Hands down the best gift I received when my second daughter was born was a sleep machine from Brookstone. It was given to me by a mom of four who knew from experience that white noise would drown out a noisy toddler and help a newborn sleep. My first daughter was the world’s worst sleeper, so I was desperate for any sleep aids. My new baby turned out to be a champion sleeper, partly perhaps because she just was wired that way, but I can’t help but believe that the sleep machine helped.
She is 6 years old now and still sleeps with the sleep machine on. Actually, she can’t sleep without it. So yes, it becomes habit forming, but to me, it was a small price to pay for getting your child to sleep better.
But a “not so small price to pay” is the hearing damage that a baby can suffer if you blast the white noise and put the machine too close to your baby’s crib.
A new study, published online Monday by the journal Pediatrics, says parents should be cautious with sleep machines because they can generate sound levels that could place infants at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss.
Fourteen different sleep machines were tested at maximum noise levels of 65 sounds. The machines were placed at three distances: 11.7 inches — simulating placement on a crib rail; 39 inches — placement on a table near a crib; and 78 inches — across the room from a crib.
The study found that when set to their maximum volume:
- All 14 sleep machines exceeded 50 decibels (the current recommended noise limit for infants in hospital nurseries) at 11.7 inches and 39 inches away
- All but one machine exceeded that recommended noise limit even when placed across the room.
- Three machines produced outputs greater than 85 decibels when placed on the crib rail.
After the study, the recommendations are to place the machines as far away as possible from your baby and never in the crib or on a crib rail, keep the volume at a low level, and only put them on for a short duration of time.
Do your children have sound machines in their rooms? Do you?