Sound machines can be extremely helpful in giving baby a comfortable sleep environment, especially when they are used safely and consistently. There are a number of different styles on the market, each of which has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Learn about all the options before you buy, so you can purchase the sound machine that's most likely to give baby (and you) a great night's sleep.
White Noise Machines
Many sound machines emit white noise or a constant sound. According to pediatrician and author Harvey Karp, white noise is important for infant sleep because it mimics the familiar sounds of the womb. For older babies, it can provide a buffer against the sleep-interrupting noises that are part of your household. White noise machines come with different features and associated price tags, and there are lots of options to choose from.
myBaby Soundspa Lullaby Sound Machine and Projector
The myBaby Soundspa Lullaby Sound Machine and Projector is a white noise machine with three different sounds, including ocean waves, womb sounds, and falling rain. It also offers three lullabies and projects images on the walls of the nursery. You can set it to run all night long, or you can choose from four different timed intervals. It does not have the ability to play MP3s, but it is very affordable. It retails for about $20 on Amazon.com, where past consumers have rated it with four stars.
Munchkin Nursery Projector Sound System
The Munchkin Nursery Projector Sound System is another good option. This voice-activated machine plays four white noises, including ocean waves, rain, and womb sounds. It also plays lullabies and projects your choice of three soothing images on the wall of baby's nursery. There's a soft glowing night light to comfort baby and make it a little easier for parents when baby awakes at night. There are also three different timer settings. This machine retails for about $26 on Diapers.com, where users have given it four stars.
Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine
Offering 12 different preset sounds, as well as the ability to play MP3 tracks, the Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine is another good option. This compact machine includes a glowing night light and easy-to-use controls. It also has a battery back-up feature to make it portable for travel and ready for power outages. There's a timer for turning off the white noise after your baby has fallen asleep. This machine has four stars on Amazon.com, where it retails for about $40.
Developed according to the guidelines in The Happiest Baby on the Block, this small unit provides the shushing noise that can calm some colicky infants. Unlike the other machines, it does not play all-night white noise. Instead, you can set it for 15 or 30 minutes of shushing. It uses two AA batteries and does not have a light. It retails for about $35 on the Baby Shusher website, where it has received numerous positive reviews.
Plush Animals with Sound Features
Another great option for adding a sound machine to your nursery is to use a sweet plush animal with a sound feature. Although this type of sound machine looks like a toy for baby to snuggle, it's important to keep it outside of the crib.
Cloud B Sleep Sheep
The Cloud B Sleep Sheep is an adorable plush lamb that plays four different sounds to help baby fall asleep, including a heartbeat, ocean waves, and whale calls. It includes a timer with two different settings. You can attach the sheep to the outside of your baby's crib or place it on a surface in the nursery. It retails for about $30 at Babies R Us, where it has received four stars from past consumers. Cloud B makes several different versions of this design, featuring various animals.
DEX Products Womb Sounds Bear
The unique feature of the DEX Products Womb Sounds Bear is that it uses a recording of real womb sounds to comfort baby. The womb sounds are the only noise option. This stuffed animal can sit on any surface in the nursery, and it features a 40-minute timer and volume control. It retails for about $23.
Summer Infant Mommies Melodies Bear
This soft stuffed bear, which comes in brown or pink, plays womb sounds, noises from nature, and lullabies. It has a timer to automatically shut it off after 15 minutes, and it can attach to the crib or rest on a surface. There's also a volume control. The Summer Infant Mommies Melodies Bear retails for about $20.
Cloud B Tranquil Turtle
Similar to other plush animal noise soothers from Cloud B, the Tranquil Turtle plays comforting white noise sounds and features a timer. However, this design also projects a soft blue light in rhythmic waves to help provide visual, as well as auditory, soothing. It retails for about $45 on Diapers.com, where consumers have rated it four and a half stars.
Safety of Baby Sound Machines
In January of 2014, the journal Pediatrics published a study about the hazards of baby sound machines. In the study, researchers measured the decibel level from several different machines at various distances from the infant's crib. The results indicated that many machines were capable of producing noise that was loud enough to damage an infant's hearing, especially when used for extended periods of time. In order to maintain a safe sleeping environment for your baby, you should follow these guidelines outlined in the study:
- Place the machine at least 12 inches away from your baby. Ideally, the machine would be even farther away.
- Don't run the machine at its highest volume.
- Consider using the timer to have the machine turn off after the baby has fallen asleep.
Many Choices for Sleep-Deprived Parents
Sleep-deprived parents have many choices when it comes to baby sound machines. Take the time to review the options, and then choose the machine with the features you need and a price you can afford.