White Noise Machines- Good for Your Babies or No? - Hearing and Speech Agency

White Noise Machines- Good for Your Babies or No?

No parent is ever surprised that many babies struggle with sleep. It’s one of those unfortunate trade-offs to the celebration of new life – you may have to deal with some crying those first few months… or years. The causes are numerous. They range from music to conversation, even at the lowest volumes. Sometimes it’s even the sound of noise from across your home.There is a scientific reason behind this. Babies use their high state of arousal as a survival mechanism.

Well, more and more parents are turning to white noise machines as survival mechanisms, especially when the waterworks begin. Moms around the globe are astounded when the noise and the light lulls their children into a peaceful slumber. Today, we’re partnering with Hearlink to determine if these are really good for your baby or not.

But as with any innovation or scientific miracle, there are strong advocates for and against. There was even a study published as recently as March 3 in Pediatrics Magazine to silence the growing number of endorsements. More and more questions arise- are white noise machines good for your baby?

The challenge really is in the volume. A pediatric ear surgeon in Toronto recollects a time when he walked into a patient’s hospital room and was blasted with white noise. The parents seemed totally at ease with it, stating that their birth doula had advocated for it as a sleeping aid. The bemused pediatric ear surgeon left the room and returned shortly after with a sound pressure meter. The results were just as he thought; 85 decibels were being pumped out of the machine.

As you may imagine, that’s a crazy amount of volume being blasted at baby whose hearing hasn’t even fully developed yet. The doctor and a group of his colleagues then took the time to look into these white noise machines. They purchased and tested the noise output of three. Each came away with the same results – noise levels far too high for the hearing of a baby. To put it in perspective, 85 decibels is the legal limit for workplaces. Any higher than that and governments begin to mandate ear protection for adults.

There were a couple other key takeaways just in the small sampling that the surgeon and his colleagues did. Every machine exceeded the safe limit for nurseries in hospitals, which is 50 decibels. Each of these levels hits from between 30 and 100 centimeters since that’s the standard distance from a crib. The worst offending machine pumped more than 50 decibels from over 200 centimeters!

Of course, you have the other side of the fence as well. Experts like Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, disagrees and says there is no credible evidence that moderate levels of noise (65-70 decibels) are harmful.

The jury may be out on the best answer, but the smartest tends to be somewhere in the middle. Hasa recommends thorough research and always connecting with a doctor or specialist. Questions?Comments? Let us know, and be sure to check out the Hearlink site for more helpful information.

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