If you’re a parent, you already know the value of those toys and techniques that occupy your baby’s attention and free you up to take a break every now and then. However, when it comes to getting an infant to sleep, some of us struggle to find a better way to keep them down longer with a more restful and healthy sleep.
Sure, you need a few more hours of sleep for yourself, but you also care for the health of your baby. Babies typically need somewhere around 15 hours of sleep per day and without yet having created their own biological clock, their sleep patterns can be unpredictable at best. That inevitably leads you to look for some options that can help you both, which brings you to the best sound machine for your baby to get to sleep.
But before we get into that, we should determine what kind of sounds affects babies.
DO SOUNDS AFFECT BABIES?
A fetus starts to hear around 18 weeks into a pregnancy, when the inner ear and nerve endings in the brain begin to develop further. This allows for them to begin hearing noises well before they are born, which can be a great time to start interacting with your baby.
Infant recognition of sounds and behavior have been studied for decades now. A few of these studies have found the ability for them to distinguish between their parents’ language and a foreign one, recognition of a soap opera theme song and much more.
In fact, a recent study was performed using an MRI to scan the brain activity of sleeping infants while they subconsciously heard adult sentences being spoken in angry, mildly angry, happy and neutral tones. From the tests, it was shown that their brains had actually shown distinct patterns of activity to each tone, to which it was concluded that babies are perhaps influenced by sound and conflict.
So it stands to reason that relaxing sounds can benefit your child in a positive way while she sleeps. Let’s get into some of the popular options.
THE BEST SOUND MACHINE FOR A BABY
1. White Noise
White noise is defined as an equal amount of noise at every frequency that a human can hear, all played at once. It is a very specific sound and not to be confused with the steady hum of a fan or a gentle rainfall – though they sound similar. Think of that black and white static noise coming from a television not receiving a signal. Here is an example (be sure your volume isn’t on blast).
When you (or your baby) hear a change in noise frequency during sleep, that abrupt change is what literally wakes you up. So, unlike a television show with neverending drama and noise, or a CD of different songs that begin, intensify, end and repeat, the consistency of white noise could be favorable as it blocks out extraneous noise that can startle a baby out of sleep.
So, does white noise help a baby sleep? Well, unfortunately there aren’t any definitive studies related to restful sleep in infants. However, a study was conducted by Ph.D. Jue Zhang, associate professor at Peking University in China, to determine the effects on sleep patterns between those exposed to either pink noise (a similar tone to white noise) and no noise at all. Out of 50 participants, 75% reported a more restful sleep. He adds that the steady drone of pink noise slows and regulates your brain waves, which is a hallmark of super-restful sleep.
2. Nature Sounds
Like white noise, the sounds of nature are typically a constant flow of noises that don’t involve abrupt changes in frequency that are likely to wake a sleeping baby. Sounds like the ocean tides rolling in and out, a flowing stream or constant rainfall are examples of calming noises.
If you’re looking for the best way to get your child to sleep, here may be your best answer. In a trial conducted at a daycare in order to determine the effects of lullaby music compared to the sounds of rainfall in inducing sleep during nap time, it was determined that not only did the sounds of rainfall put more children to sleep in 20 minutes, it also did so faster than with lullaby music being played.
3. Calming Music
Classical music is a popular choice for mothers that want to add a little music to their little one’s life at an early age. There have been ample studies that link classical and opera music to lowering blood pressure and even calming children with autism as they lay down to sleep. But the benefits of relaxing music doesn’t end there.
Another trial was performed to determine the effect of music on the quality of sleep in elementary school children. Those children subject to background music at nap time observed significant improvements in sleep efficiency and duration in comparison to those that didn’t listen to any music or noises.
…children subject to background music at nap time observed significant improvements in sleep efficiency and duration.
What’s more, classical music has shown to be beneficial in getting preschoolers and toddlers to sleep faster than not using any music at all. In addition, toddlers found even greater benefit than the preschoolers.
4. Womb Noises
Of course, some of the most soothing sounds for a baby to sleep are womb noises. They’re quiet, gentle and completely natural. Your baby is already used to hearing the wooshing sounds of blood being pumped through the heart and umbelical cord, which makes this one of the most natural and calming sounds you can set up for your infant.
They’re already used to lower-pitched noises while still a fetus, so perhaps a general womb melody could be calming for a child. Of course, there is no research to back the benefits of playing womb noises for an infant.
As you can see, there are several options to help you get your baby to sleep. However, you can probably judge that the best sound machine for your baby to get to sleep quickly is either going to be the sounds of rainfall or that of a calming musical melody. They’re soft, natural and studies have confirmed positive use in not only a fetus and babies, but in a developing children. We’ve previously rated them as one of the must haves for a newborn.
So, what now? All of these are available in CDs, phone apps and sound machines that can all be purchased and downloaded online or in retail stores everywhere. Listen to a few samples on youtube and determine which one will be best for your baby.