Is White Noise Safe?

The topic of whether or not white noise is safe has come up regularly. Most often it is new parents inquiring, as they have read, or heard from a friend or family member that it’s important to use for babies.

In today’s post, I will answer the question of whether or not it is safe to use white noise as well as provide additional information about white noise that any new parent may want to consider.

Is White Noise Safe for Babies?

Yes! When used appropriately, white noise is completely safe and actually very beneficial. The biggest concern I hear from new parents is that they are worried or have read that noises that are too loud can damage their baby’s hearing. While this is true, did you know that when your baby is in utero, they are continuously exposed to noise levels equivalent to a lawn mower?! That roughly 70 decibels! For comparison, here are a few other examples:

  • Freeway traffic = 70 dB
  • Quiet conversation at home = 50 dB
  • Workplace = 80-85 dB
  • Hairdryer – 85 dB
  • Laundry dryer 70 dB
  • Jet takeoff =100 dB

 

What is a Safe Zone Level for White Noise?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has established a “safe zone” level for white noise that nurseries in hospitals are supposed to follow. This range is 50 dB or lower. While I think it is good to err on the side of caution, my recommendation is to stay within 50-70 dB on a regular basis. I will usually advise my clients to use the higher level to help soothe their baby initially and then lower it to the 50-60 dB range for sleep. Remember, your infant has had a good deal of exposure in utero to the levels created from the heartbeat, blood and fluid moving throughout mom’s body.

 

White Noise Benefits

There are a number of reasons to use white noise, but most notable and of the most interest to new parents is that it helps their baby sleep better. What is the correlation for helping babies sleep better? Well, a basic explanation is that babies spend roughly 50% of their sleep in a stage called Active Sleep. Active sleep is a very light stage of sleep where a lot of movement can happen and they can be woken easily. If there is outside noise like a dog barking, children screaming or pots and pans being moved about, your baby is likely to wake easily. White noise will help to drain that external noise out, helping them sleep longer and more soundly. Additionally, white noise helps calm babies because the noise reminds them of the comforts of being in their mother’s or surrogates tummy. It is soothing and calming to their nervous system.

 

Favorite White Noise Machine

My all time client’s favorite white noise machine is the LectroFan. It has 10 white noise settings and 10 fan settings as well as a wide range for volume control!

 

Using White Noise Appropriately

As a Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Newborn Care Specialist I definitely recommend the use of white noise. However, to help keep babies safe, I have a few rules. They are:

  1. Place the white noise machine 3-6 feet away from your baby’s crib. Do not place it on the crib rail.
  2. Only use a “fan” type noise. No rain drops, music, crickets, thunder, ocean noises etc.
  3. Download a decibel reader on your phone to measure the decibels. I use Decibel X.
  4. Using the reader, place your phone in the crib area where your baby’s head would typically be.
  5. Keep the decibel range between 50-60 dB.

Decibel Reading

 

Have questions about your baby’s sleep or the use of white noise? We are happy to help! Please contact us here or call now. 

The content contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or to replace the advice of any medical professional. It is based on our opinions and experience working with newborns and their families. Other’s opinions may vary. It does not represent the views of any affiliated organizations. The reader understands that the term “Babynurse” is often a word used to describe a newborn caregiver. However, unless otherwise disclosed, we are not licensed nurses in any state. By reading and/or utilizing any information or suggestions contained in this blog, the reader acknowledges that we are not medical professionals and agrees to and waives any claim, known or unknown, past, present or future. This blog may contain affiliate links.
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