Of all the standard advice I give out to parents regarding their kiddos’ sleep, the one piece that seems to immediately make a difference is the implementation of white noise. There are all sorts of products on the market (check out my favorites list here), but my number one recommendation is the cheapest, loudest box fan you can find! Something like the good ole’ Lasko 3733 will do the trick. Just turn that baby on to the loudest setting, face it towards the wall (so your little one doesn’t get too cold), and you have the most effective sound machine on the planet. But why is white noise for baby (and everyone else!) so helpful? Read on to find out…
A box fan on it’s loudest setting will seem too loud for mom and dad, but will be the perfect volume for baby. Also, as a hilarious aside, another household object that is the perfect loudness would be something like a blowdryer…which one would NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES EVER USE AS A WHITE NOISE MACHINE! Except if you are Lori Broady on a show called My Strange Addiction (episode info), where they showed how you’re addicted to sleeping with your blowdryer, and you co-sleep with your 4-year-old, and have burned her on not one, but multiple occasions, and how you have started a fire with your blow dryer addiction…
Turn It Up!
Moving on, the volume of white noise is of utmost importance. The womb is very, very loud. I’ve read reports that the decibel level inside the womb is about 90 decibels. N-I-N-E-T-Y. That’s as loud as a lawnmower! So, you want your newborn to sleep well? Crank up that fan as loud as it will go.
Don’t Believe the Hype
Some new parents, and even some more seasoned parents, think it’s wise to have babies nap not only without white noise, but while also being exposed to ambient noises. The thinking behind this is that somehow baby will learn to “sleep through anything.” Let me tell you this right now – having an infant who can sleep well in that kind of an environment is about as common as having a baby that is “by the book,” and sleeps easily on a schedule without too much help from mom and dad. It might be possible, but it’s unlikely. And frankly, it’s unfair.
There is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t give your baby and child every possible chance to sleep successfully. Darken their room, turn on a fan (or white noise machine), and you’ll be on your way to creating cues for them so their brains are immediately attuned to sleep when those cues are given. Doing the best you can to make sure their sleep environment is as accommodating to their needs as possible is definitely the way to go.
But Is White Noise A Sleep Prop?
No! I wish everyone slept with white noise! It’s not a sleep prop because you’re not responsible for giving it to your baby over and over again for them to sleep (a paci would be a good example). White noise is no more a sleep prop than a mattress. And there’s never a reason to wean it. You could argue that it’s harmful for a baby to sleep without white noise because it’s so beneficial.
When implementing white noise for baby…
- Turn it up!
- Use it for all sleep when possible – naps and bedtime
- Keep it on – don’t use timers
- Baby can use it throughout their childhood – there’s no need to “wean” from it since it’s not a sleep prop!
- Mom and Dad could use it too!
If you want more tips on creating the perfect sleeping environment for your little, and getting them on an age-appropriate sleep schedule, sign up for my newsletter!
Using a fan for white noise was the last thing on my mind. Until Natalie suggested it. It’s great, my 8 month old now sleeps through the night and during naps. Unlike before, we used the radio for white noise and the break in music to commercials would wake him. Now when he goes to his room and hears the fan he puts his head on my shoulder, he knows its nap time. I love it. I just put him down and to sleep he goes.
Not sure if you’ll get this or not! But i read about half and half about getting baby ready for sleep. Half of things say keep blinds open during the day and the other half says darken it up so baby knows it’s time for sleep. My baby is 6 weeks old and I’m sure, well pretty sure, she knows her nights and days. Should i try darkening her room for naps? Black our curtains and blinds shut?
Hi Sarah! You should check out the newborn section in my book!: https://www.amazon.com/Getting-Your-Baby-Sleep-Trainer/dp/0999086707/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514923638&sr=8-1&keywords=getting+your+baby+to+sleep+the+baby+sleep+trainer+way. I talk about why darkness is important for naps and nighttime – and definitely a good idea to start implementing now with your 6 week old. 😉 Also, I have a newborn video series coming out soon too I think you would enjoy!
I’ve recently purchased your book! I have the Lectrofan white noise machine which I recently purchased because it was recommended by Susan Yara (You made an appearance on her YouTube channel). Silly question but the “white noise” option has different levels such as “brown”, “pink” white noise. Are all these acceptable? I wish I could have found your recommendation sooner because I spent $50 on this machine. Thank You!!
The Lectrofan is a great one!! I can totally see why Susan recommended it. My personal favorite is brown noise <3
Thank you so much for the prompt response! I can’t recall where you mentioned not to place the sound machine on baby crib. I think obviously for safety reasons. However, where is the best placement? Our baby currently sleeps in our bedroom. I’m afraid to leave the sound machine on too loud afraid we may not hear our other two toddlers who are in a separate bedroom. They are 4yrs and 2yrs.
Probably in one of my blogs on sleep safety. I would use your best judgment and use it a a volume where you can still hear your other kids, and placing it *under* the crib is fine, just not in the crib or anywhere where she baby can touch the machine or the cord.
I am looking for a white noise app and there are lots on the market! Do you have any recommendations ? And are fan noises the best for a baby? My baby is now 3 months old .
You can find my favorite one here: