My 4-week old baby can't seem to stay asleep for long periods of time without white noise. I have found it to be a lifesaver. Since I started playing white noise for him he's gone from waking up every 15 minutes during daytime naps to sleeping in 2-3 hour stretches, and at night he's gone from 90 minutes to 5-6 HOURS of sleep in one stretch!!!
My husband is opposed to white noise and pulled up all these articles that say that white noise is developmentally inappropriate for babies because it interferes with the development of their hearing. I certainly don't want to hurt my child, but I can't take many more nights of waking up every 90 minutes and spending an hour calming a crying baby.
What have been your experiences with white noise?
I have used a white noise machine set on "ocean" since my daughter was maybe 6 months old? she's 20 months old and we still use it (it is a lifesaver- though it only increases her sleep time though because it helps to block out noises that would wake her). She only occasionally sleeps for long stretches though (maybe I get one 4-5 hour stretch at night every 6 months, though they've become more frequent the last month or so). I suspect you just might have a baby who will be a better sleeper than mine and his sleep is just developing this way.
She doesn't have a lot of words yet and sometimes I wonder if it's from using the machine, but I have no proof, only that I have read in passing comments like yours. I have never actually found a study only people talking about the studies (or single small study?) saying that white noise can affect something like hearing/language development! I am not especially worried about it. She is bright and communicative and gets her point across fine, and I think her hearing is awesome though she hasn't been tested. Do you have any links to actual studies?
I asked my pediatrician about this because I had similar concerns, and she said not to worry unless it was crazy loud for long periods of time. For her first six months we frequently used a vacuum cleaner to get her to sleep. Now she's almost 10 months and we use a quiet white noise machine ("sound screen") to block sounds in her room. Her hearing seems totally fine. She responds to quiet noises, turns her head in the right direction, etc.
I say do what keeps you sane, and as much sleep as possible is definitely essential. Especially in the newborn period--I feel like all bets are off and it's just about survival during those first few weeks/months. If we worried about everything that it was possible to worry about with babies we would go bonkers, I think!
Maybe this is reassuring?
Fiction writer by training, writer/editor of anything anyone will hire me for by trade. Me + D=my girls E (4/2011) and little N, 1/2014.
I have only ever heard of the "white" noise from U/S being potentially damaging, never outside noise. I guess it might depend on the white noise. A hair dryer or vacuum right next to baby would probably be over kill but a fan or a white noise machine on a quieter setting would be fine.
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I did read that instead of actual white noise, choose a sound from nature, like ocean waves or water trickling. That's what I did. I found them all in iTunes. My son loves it. It's called White Noise for Babies. There's a hundred songs or something. He loves about 5 of them. I could NOT survive a car ride without them!