Have you ever struggled to fall asleep at night? Of course you have- everyone has! Chances are, your child likely also has this problem, and as a result it may cause you to lose sleep too. However, thankfully there is something you can do to help.
You’ve likely heard of a sound machine before, but have you considered using it for your baby? These devices provide a variety of soothing sounds that will help your baby drift off into a deep sleep. In fact, many of these devices will likely also help you to sleep better. There are numerous sleep sound machines on the market today, but here are the 10 best that should specifically help your child fall asleep. We’ve also got plenty of other information about these products so that you know what to expect and can make the right decision for your child.
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5 Tips to Make Sure Your Sleep Sound Machine Functions Well
1. Decide if you want a night light/visual features/certain sounds: The main difference between sound machines is whether or not they are designed specifically for babies, or if they are designed for everyone. Machines designed for babies are more likely to have features like a night light, a projector, or certain sounds like lullabies or a heartbeat. You will not typically find these in general sound machines, so if they are important to you, be sure to get a machine that lists them. If your child is older or you don’t feel you need visual elements, a standard sound machine will be fine.
2. Test out sounds to find what your child likes: This will be important once you decide on a machine. The majority of machines come with a variety of sounds, and it will be helpful to try out different ones and see which works best for your child. If a sound has been selected it is sure to be a calming sound, but your child may react different to certain sounds. Be sure to keep an open mind and try different options.
3. Make sure the machine is plugged in or has batteries: Make sure when you purchase a sound machine that you understand how it is powered, especially if you are planning to travel a lot with it. For example, don’t leave your home on a trip with your sound machine thinking it has a battery backup only to realize it doesn’t and that you left the cord at home. That will make for one unhappy baby!
4. Test out the timing: Nearly all sound machines will have a timer feature that can shut off the sound after a specified amount of time. Just because this feature is there doesn’t mean you always have to use it. If your child is a light sleeper, there is a good chance when the sound shuts off they will wake up. This may be a great idea during nap time, where the duration of sleep is meant to be shorter, but consider leaving the machine on during the entire duration of overnight hours.
5. Determine a good location for the machine: Finally, you want to make sure that your child can’t accidentally (or on purpose!) mess with the settings on the sound machine. Make sure you either have a machine with a child lock feature, or that you keep it somewhere that they cannot easily reach.
What is the Best Sound for Babies to Fall Asleep To?
Birth can be an overwhelming and very unsettling experience for babies to go through. They are thrown from the only world that they have known so far into a bright, big place filled with unfamiliar sights, sounds, and feelings. A lot of the first few months of your baby’s life is spent simply adjusting to this new world around them. During this period of adjustment, many babies cry a good bit and some of them experience colic. Sometimes parents find it difficult to settle their baby down and may struggle to soothe them and help them rest and sleep.
The Fourth Trimester
There is a concept called the fourth trimester that is all about treating your baby’s first few months as if they are still a fetus. This is because, due to head size, a newborn human baby is born rather immature compared to almost any other animal. So, in the first 3 months or so, they are still very much like a fetus and require extra special care. To help your baby adjust through this transition period, doing things to replicate the conditions of the womb can be very helpful and comforting for your baby. To do this, you should try to keep your baby close to you as much as possible such as by holding them or through babywearing. Other great things you can do to replicate the womb are walking, bouncing, rocking, swaddling, and replicating the sounds of the womb.
Sounds of the Womb
So, that begs the question, “What does the womb sound like?” The womb is actually a very loud place with constant noise for your little one to hear. This can be surprising because often times, we make the mistake of trying to minimize all noise to help calm a baby which can actually be more disturbing to a baby because they aren’t used to silence. Loud, sudden noises are not ideal and may scare babies, but replicating the sounds of the womb can be very beneficial. The loudest, most constant sound that a baby hears is the rushing sound of blood through the placenta. The best way we can replicate this sound is with white noise or other similar sounds.
Replicating Sounds of the Womb
To make sounds similar to what your little one heard in the womb, there are plenty of options available. You can use a white noise machine to create a sound that will be familiar to your little one which is a popular option as it can be left near their sleeping space to help them stay asleep at night and during naps. Other options would be a CD that has white noise on it or a video that plays white noise.
Alternatively, you can do other things to make sounds similar to white noise that also do a great job at replicating the noise that your baby heard in the womb. Think of anything that makes fairly loud, steady, and constant sound. Water rushing, a hair dryer, a fan, or even a vacuum cleaner can all be good ways to make sounds that will help your baby relax and sleep. Then, of course, you can always go with the tried and true shushing. Making a shushing sound for your baby does wonders to help them calm down and relax so that they can more easily go to sleep. This works especially well when paired with other techniques to replicate life in the womb such as babywearing or swaddling and rocking or walking with your baby.
Sound Over Silence
So, basically, while you don’t want any sudden or surprising sounds that could disturb or scare your baby, you don’t necessarily want total silence either. A lot of people tend to think that quiet is best for little babies, but that just isn’t true in most cases. You are much more likely to have success in getting your little bundle of joy to slumber when there is some sort of constant sound like white noise or shushing than when there is no sound at all.
Product Criteria of Evaluation
Price is always a major determining factor for us when selecting products. Not everyone has an unlimited budget, and this is especially true for items that aren’t a necessity. A sleep sound machine is certainly not a necessary item (although it may feel like it is once you get used to using it!), so we paid particular attention to cost and made sure to include some more affordable options along with more expensive options.
Getting a good night’s sleep is very important, especially for growing babies. For this reason, we always consider user ratings and see if they are satisfied with the quality of sleep their baby got using the particular sound machine we are reviewing. The sound quality or price of a machine may be great, but if it doesn’t seem to help a baby to fall asleep and stay asleep, it will largely be a waste of money.
This is important for many items in the baby industry, but less so when it comes to sound machines. There is not as much of a safety concern in this instance, so the importance falls more heavily on factors like price and user ratings. However, we still like to include well-known brands (such as HoMedics) that has been around for decades and is proven successful in this industry.
Ease of Use
Finally, ease of use is incredibly important for any item you are using with your child. Not only do you not want to risk using something wrong, you also don’t typically have a lot of time to spend to get it right. When it comes time for bed, you don’t want to have to spend a lot of time setting up a sound machine. For that reason, we looked for items that had easy displays that could get you set up in no time at all.
Do sound machines actually work?
Yes! Sound machines get a lot of attention because they are proven to help people of all ages (including babies) sleep better at night. These machines are successful for a few reasons. First, sound machines give your brain something calm and consistent to focus on which will help it to relax and drift off to sleep. Second, the sound from the machine will help block out other noises that may disrupt your sleep such as cars outside, TV, or other people in the house.
Will it prevent me from hearing my baby during the night?
It shouldn’t. A sound machine is not meant to be so loud that you cannot hear other sounds over it. While you want the volume up enough that it can be heard and be beneficial, it shouldn’t be so loud that you couldn’t hear your child crying during the night. Test your volume control on your machine and set it to something you are comfortable with. If you use a baby monitor, it should still pick up on a child crying even if there is also a sound machine running.
What is the best sound to use?
This depends! Many people recommend using white noise, but this may not work for everyone. Nature sounds, especially rain or ocean waves, are very popular as well. Test out different sounds and see which seems to work best for your child. There is not one right answer, and in fact that is why most machines give you a variety of sounds.
Should you only use a sound machine at night?
No! Some parents think sound machines are only to be used at night for sleeping, but that isn’t true. Another particularly useful time to use a sound machine is during nap time. In some cases, a sound machine is actually more beneficial during nap time because there tends to be more noises happening during that time of the day. Use the machine to block out other children in the house, the school bus outside, TV, and any other disruptive noises.
Is there an age restriction with sound machines?
No! Babies of all ages can benefit from using a sound machine. The principles of the machine apply to people of all ages, so don’t worry about starting to use it when your child is too young. As we said, you should still easily be able to hear your child through a baby monitor, so there is no safety concern there. If you are worried you won’t be able to hear them, turn the volume down on the machine.
There you have it! These are the 10 best sound machines on the market today. You can easily make your decision by thinking about what you want from a sound machine- do you have a certain sound you need? Do you want or need features specific for babies? To help make things more clear, here is some additional info and frequently asked questions.