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The low down on White noise ----

I think almost every to-be parent looks at “white noise” as unconvinced as any other, I mean come on, the noise is described in colour...... however, if you look closer the description of it is actually quite clever. It goes along the analogy of white light, light which is a uniform mixture of all the different possible colours. In frequency/sound, white noise is a uniform mixture of random energy at every frequency, the description is actually quite brilliant, and white noise in turn is many frequencies with equal intensities.

The term white noise is also referred to as the “sh” noise and has been proven to have the most incredible in pact on newborns and small babies within their first year. White noise is a substantial tool in drowning out inconsistent background noise and contributing to the settling of your little one during sleep. White noise is also very similar to womb sounds such as your heart beating, blood flowing, mommy breathing, the muffling sound of mommy's voice, etc. The constant repetitive sounds of white noise can also help your baby stay asleep, which can be the most challenging part. Babies love white noise. They have already spent 9 months in the womb so they are used to "noise". Background white noise is actually calming for your baby as it resembles the kind of environment they initially developed in.

Often a new parent will bolt to the sound of their crying baby only to find they are perfectly OK and lying exactly where they were put down to sleep.

Dr Harvey explains in his world famous book The Happiest Baby On The Block, “Silence actually drives them crazy! Hours of quiet can push babies into screaming. It’s as if they’re begging, please, someone make a little noise!” If you think about it, it actually makes perfect sense, once a baby has been born, we take away their dark environment and replace it with a bright one, we pull them from the warmth of their amniotic swimming pool and furthermore, take away those reassuring sounds that mom is close and baby is safe, there is no surprise babies hold on to the need for sound so strongly.

There are so many pro’s to using white noise, white noise reduces stress in babies as when played it will take them back to the womb and immediately start to relax them, helps babies go to sleep and stay asleep as background noise is muffled out and plays the same consistent frequencies throughout their sleep cycles, helps babies to cry less by setting in the calm reflex and even better will help YOU to sleep better as well. There is no science to it, if baby sleeps, mom sleeps, if moms sleeps, mom can conquer all.

There are however some cons, as there are with any magic tricks in the art of raising babies. The white noise needed by your baby has to be tailor made. Not every baby likes every white noise presented to them; there is an array of white noises and they need to be tested to find which works for your baby. Some like the tone of a hair dryer, others like the rumble of a car engine, others like the high pitch of the radio static between channels. Finding your babies sound can take some experimenting. Also, don’t be fooled as to what white noise actually is, playing the radio/CD’s and other instruments that are not steady in pitch, tone and consistency does not classify as white noise, playing your “Westlife” CD is not going to have the same effect as playing a white noise app or switching on the tumble dryer.

Be warned, there is an art to getting the white noise mastered, it is all about the volume. Baby sleep consulting from Australia recommends the average white noise to be played at around 70 decibels during a babies sleep deprived tantrum, this is as loud as a vacuum cleaner. The loudness won’t be kept forever, just enough to capture babies attention long enough for baby to begin to recognise the “sh” sound and to begin to settle. Yes, 70 decibels appears loud, however, the volume of the human body sits at around 75-92 decibels during pregnancy, also suggested by Dr Harvey Karp. White noise should be played during babies wind down routine 10-15 mins before they are put down to sleep and left to play gently in their room until they wake naturally. 40-60 decibels is perfect; this is the volume of rain falling, dishwater running etc.

White noise is completely safe and a vital tool in completing your baby’s requirements for optimal sleep, however, research does need to be actively played out by the parent. We put such vigorous research into baby stimulation classes, products for hair and skin, why wouldn’t we do the same for the safety of their sleep. Any product that has not been passed by the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants, or has not been recommended by a qualified infant sleep professional should not be used. Ensure that any online article suggesting a product is qualified to do so, average Jo has no place commenting on a product that can neurologically alter the natural development of your baby! has been the most educated article out there to date that covers both sides of the fence and is a brilliant read to any parent concerned about the use of white noise.

Nicci Proome

Infant Stimulation Specialist &

Paediatric sleep consultant

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