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Sleepless nights are to be entirely expected when it comes to having a baby.
Many parents look for safe and effective methods for getting their babies to sleep the whole night through, and one of the most effective is using a white noise machine (like this one which is available on Amazon). These are designed to drown out background noise, and make it much easier to fall asleep.
White noise machines are effective for babies and adults, but you should be careful not to become too dependent on them. There aren’t exactly any negative health benefits associated with using them, but just like relying on any other piece of technology, you’ll notice it when it’s not there.
This article is designed to give you more information on using white noise for babies. But most importantly, when should you stop using white noise for babies?
When To Stop Using White Noise For Babies
There isn’t really a hard and fast answer to when you should stop using white noise for your baby, but a fair time is between 1 year and 18 months old. Around this time your baby will be through much of their early development, and will be much more aware of their surroundings and so it makes it an ideal time to wean them off the device.
It’s worth bearing in mind that every baby develops at different speeds, so this isn’t to say you should just turn off the white noise machine on their first birthday regardless. You should aim to coincide turning off the white noise machine with when your baby starts sleeping through the night, and doesn’t need night time feeding any more.
As previously mentioned, this will be different for every baby, and so just make sure you’re conscious of their development, and time it with everything else that’s changing in their life. If you’re unsure based on this information, consult with a healthcare professional about what stage your baby is currently at. Being around your child everyday will help you to work out the best time to remove the white noise machine.
The key is to make sure your baby continues to sleep soundly through the night. If this doesn’t happen, even if you’re careful about stopping the white noise machine, then it’s completely up to you whether you continue using it or not. You just need to be conscious that the more your baby becomes dependent on the device, the harder it’ll be to take it away in the future. Especially when they start talking and can tell you what they want.
The most important thing to bear in mind when deciding when to stop using white noise for your baby is to not just remove it one night. Being used to sleeping with a white noise machine on in the background will make normal night time noises seem incredibly loud and distracting, so make sure you go about this in the best way. This is explained in more detail below.
Are White Noise Machines Good For Your Baby?
When it comes to deciding what’s right for your baby, new parents are always the most conscious of what might be harmful. This is completely understandable, particularly if it’s their first child. This line of thinking covers everything from diapers to clothes, and cribs to buggies. And of course electronic items, such as white noise machines.
White noise machines have been a popular sleep aid for babies for many years. A study completed all the way back in 1990 confirmed that white noise helps babies fall asleep faster, and they’ve been popular ever since. The fact that they help babies fall asleep faster is essentially a given, even without scientific proof to back it up, as many parents have used them for many years.
Child psychologist Mary Ann Schuler, author of the Baby Sleep Miracle says that babies sleep in a noisy environment better than in a quiet environment. Go through the presentation on her sales page in which she talks about this. As far as the program goes, I cannot recommend buying it because:-
- I have not bought it myself.
- There are no unbiased reviews on the web. All reviews I came across were clearly promotional in nature. I suggest you don’t waste your time in trying to find a genuine review because I did try hard and couldn’t find one.
However, the program does have a 60 day money back guarantee, so you have the option of returning it if you feel it’s not worth your while.
Even if your baby is a sound sleeper, using a white noise machine can have massive benefits (more for you than your baby). It’s particularly useful during weaning times, as babies can become very awake very quickly, and this is best to be avoided if you don’t want to be up all night.
The other obvious benefit is that they cover up household background noises that can have an effect on a baby’s sleep pattern. This can be anything from road noise and barking dogs outside, to people, TVs, and other noises inside.
When babies are very small they sleep very easily, but as they get older it becomes more difficult to keep them asleep. So the last thing you want is for your baby to wake up if your neighbor’s dog starts barking in the middle of the night.
However, there are some possible cons to using a white noise machine for your baby. The biggest is the fact that your baby can become dependent on having white noise in the background while they sleep, and while this isn’t damaging to their health, it can make things much harder when you’re sleeping away from home, or if the white noise machine breaks.
The other important thing to consider is that many white noise machines can actually be turned up very loud; in many cases too loud for use around a baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics tested 14 white noise machines in 2014, all of which were designed for babies, and found that all of them exceeded the recommended noise limits (50 decibels). This doesn’t necessarily need to be a problem though, just be conscious of the volume control, and make sure the device is set up away from the baby’s crib.
The other big drawback to consider is the presence of EMF radiation around your baby. Obviously, we’re never going to be able to escape all EMF radiation, and we’re still not completely sure what impact it has on babies, but it’s best to avoid it just in case. For this reason, and to help combat excessive noise levels, set the white noise machine around 7ft (2m) away from where your baby sleeps.
How To Wean Your Baby Off A White Noise Machine
As mentioned above, the worst thing you can do when it comes to stopping white noise for your baby is to do so suddenly. After all, they will have become very used to sleeping with one, especially if you’ve been using it since they were very little. If it’s simply removed one night all the background noises it was covering up will become very obvious, and you’ll likely find yourself facing many sleepless nights if you do so.
The trick is to wean them off it slowly, just as you do when you move them from milk onto solids. Think about the same logic applying: that you’d rather not deal with the consequences of a sudden change. All this really means is that you’ll have to be patient with stopping white noise, and plan ahead to have it removed from your baby’s routine by a certain time.
All you need to do is slowly turn the white noise machine down. For at least a week or so (possibly more if your baby is a light sleeper), start off with the machine at its normal volume, and then simply sneak in later in the night to turn it down. Make sure you do this very slowly, and only turn it down by a tiny bit each night. Your baby will be most sensitive to background noise in the early stages of this process, so be careful you don’t turn it down too much too fast.
As they get used to sleeping with a quieter white noise machine, start off at a lower volume when your baby goes to sleep, and then continue turning it down through the night. Keep this up for as long as it takes until the noise is barely audible. By that point you should be able to just stop using it altogether.
Doing it this way will help your baby get used to natural background noises, even if they’re asleep when this happens. In fact, it’s better that they acclimatize to background noises while sleeping because it’ll make everything easier in the long run. Hopefully by the time you’ve removed the white noise they should be falling asleep naturally, and staying asleep the whole night through.
What Kind Of White Noise Is The Best For Babies?
Standard white noise is the audible equivalent of TV static; think the noise a radio makes when not tuned into a station. Although this sound might not be particularly appealing, it’s great at covering up unwanted background noise simply because it occupies all standard frequencies, and so makes an ideal barrier.
However, many newer white noise machines also come with a range of relaxing sound effects built in. These include things like rain, forest sounds, birdcalls, and whale song. When it comes to a sleep aid for your baby, normal white noise is probably the most helpful, but there’s no harm in experimenting to see if you have different results with any other soundtracks included on the device.
Just as with anything, all babies will respond differently. You might find that your baby doesn’t like white noise, and prefers something else. Or you might find the complete opposite, and that your baby doesn’t like any noise at all. There’s absolutely no harm in trying a white noise machine out and seeing if it has any positive impact on your baby’s sleep schedule.
What If I Choose Not To Stop Using White Noise At The Recommended Time?
The recommended period of 12-18 months was chosen mainly because it’s when most babies have reached the end of the “baby” stage, and are moving towards toddler. It’s a time when many other things are changing in the baby’s life, and so it makes sense to include this change in with all the others.
However, if for whatever reason you choose to continue using a white noise machine, the only real problem you’ll encounter is dependence on the sound. The longer your baby continues to use the device, the more of a problem this will become, and it’ll be much harder to remove it from their routine once it becomes ingrained.
If your baby is a very restless sleeper – as some are – then consider switching them onto something else that essentially does the same job. A good alternative would be audiobooks, as this is a much more useful thing to be listening to and will hopefully set up good habits for later in life. That said, you would still encounter the same problems of dependency, just with a different sound.
Some people claim that your baby being dependent on white noise is a dangerous habit, but this is something of a mountain being made from a molehill. There’s not necessarily any danger associated with white noise, apart from volume levels, and so it won’t necessarily do any harm for them to continue using white noise to drown out background noise.
If you have any concerns about using white noise with your baby, then speak to a healthcare professional who would be able to give you much more personalized advice.
When it comes to answering the question “when to stop using white noise for your baby,” there isn’t one clean answer that will work for everyone. If you started using it for some sleep relief, you might be unwilling to give it up, which is completely understandable. However, if you’re conscious that you don’t want your baby to become dependent, then stop it around the 12-18month mark.
That said, you know your own baby, and you’ll be able to work out what’s best for them. The only obvious dangers associated with white noise for babies is volume (which is easy to keep under control), EMF radiation (slightly harder to control), and dependency. The last one is the only real cause for concern, but this is still easy to avoid. The most important thing is to see what works best for your baby, and to remember that you can always start using white noise again if their sleep pattern changes.
Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, please share it. Also, read my guide on noise cancelling headphones for babies.