All new parents know how difficult it can be to catch up on sleep when you have a restless baby at home. While there are plenty of tricks to get a newborn baby to sleep, like swaddling, singing lullabies, and dimming the lights, which are all proven techniques, an increasing number of parents are turning to white noise machines as a sleeping aid for their baby.
While using white noise to help your baby get to sleep can be effective, few parents know when to stop using white noise for their baby. To help you use a white noise machine properly, we explain exactly when you should stop using them and why. From there, we will also highlight five mistakes you should avoid if you are planning to use a white noise sound machine to help your baby sleep.
When Should You Stop Using White Noise for Babies?
Deciding when to stop using a white noise machine for your baby can be a somewhat difficult decision, especially if using one is helping. With that said, you do not want your baby to become overly dependent on white noise as a sleeping aid, as it can impact their sleeping patterns as they grow older.
While there is no specific age when parents should stop using white noise for their babies, most pediatricians and sleep experts agree that parents should begin weaning their babies off of white noise somewhere between 12 months and 18 months of age.
By the time the baby reaches their first birthday, they start to develop a conscious awareness of their surroundings. At this age, a baby can begin developing habits, which is why you do not want them to become reliant on anything to fall asleep. Ideally, the older baby should sleep soundly without needing any aid.
Weaning the Baby Off of White Noise is Important
It is important that you gradually wean your baby off white noise when you deem it appropriate to stop using it, rather than removing it abruptly. In most cases, sudden changes, like the immediate removal of a white noise machine, are not good for babies.
For some babies, the consequences of any sudden changes can be sleepless nights and increased crying. Ideally, you will slowly turn the volume of the white noise machine down over at least a week until completely turning it off, as this will help your baby adjust healthily.
5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using a White Noise Machine for a Baby
Now that you know when and how to stop using a white noise machine for your baby, we can discuss some of the most common white noise mistakes parents make in their attempts to help their baby fall asleep.
- Using a Low-Quality White Noise Machine
Unfortunately, some white noise machines are not very high quality. If you want the best results, you should spend the extra money on a white noise machine designed for babies.
Low-quality white noise machines also produce inconsistent sounds, which can disrupt your baby’s sleep. The best white noise sound machines also have a feature where they will shut off when the baby is completely quiet, and gradually increase in volume when they detect crying and other noises. This will help your baby get better sleep than a machine that produces non-stop white noise.
- Not Using a Gentle Setting on Your White Noise Machine
For your white noise machine to have the calming effects you are looking for, ensure that you use it in a gentle, low-volume setting, especially when you first turn it on.
If your white noise machine has a setting that increases the volume gradually, this can help. Ideally, the intensity should increase slowly from a decibel level of 65 to roughly 72. These are safe decibel levels that will comfort rather than startle your baby.
- Leaving the White Noise Machine Off Because the Baby Fell Asleep Without It
Some parents assume white noise is only useful for helping babies fall asleep, but white noise is just as effective at helping babies stay asleep. If you want your baby to get a full night’s rest, make sure that the white noise machine is on, even if your baby has fallen asleep naturally. It helps drown out environmental noise and household noise that can wake your baby out of deep sleep.
Not only will this help your baby have less disrupted sleep, but it can also reduce the number of times you have to wake up throughout the night to comfort and swaddle your baby. Talk about a win-win!
- Assuming You Can Create White Noise Without a Proper White Noise Machine
Some parents assume that they can use the static generated from a radio or television to help their baby sleep. Unfortunately, this high pitch white noise is harsh and hissy, so it can disrupt your baby’s sleep rather than comfort the baby and help them stay asleep.
You want to use low pitch white noise that is monotonous and subtle, the same type of white noise that a high-quality white noise machine will generate. Ideally, you will use a white noise machine designed for babies and toddlers, as they create sounds that can help comfort a baby and lull them into sleep.
- Using White Noise During the Day
While it might be tempting to use white noise to keep your baby calm during the day, this can reduce the overall effectiveness of your white noise machine. When you use white noise appropriately, meaning only at night when you want your baby to fall asleep, your baby will start to connect that low, rumbling sound with sleep.
If you use white noise too often and at the wrong times, your baby will get used to it, and it will no longer be an effective sleeping aid. Simply put, white noise should be reserved for sleep, rather than as a calming tool during daylight hours.
You can use many techniques to help your baby fall and stay asleep. While white noise sound machines can be incredibly effective, it is important to use them properly and to know when to stop using them. By following the information above, you can rest assured that you are using white noise the right way, giving your little one just the right amount of white noise exposure.