A study was done in the 90s, which showed that babies who hear white noise fell asleep before those who did so silently. This was attributed to the possibility that this noise resembled the sounds the baby hears inside the womb. Once this statement has been discarded, it seems that the white noise isolates the baby from other sounds, including those of his own crying, helping him to return to calm and fall asleep.
White noise has the peculiarity of being a sound in which all frequencies are at the same volume, without any protruding over the other. This means that when listening to it at a sufficient volume, the rest of the surrounding sounds are canceled out, and the person is left in a kind of situation of sound isolation, hearing only white noise.
When a crying baby hears it, it gradually stops crying, calms down, and in some cases even falls asleep (especially if it cries because it wants to sleep and cannot find a way to finish falling asleep).
White noise is a sound in which all frequencies are at the same volume.
This could be a panacea for parents which is why there are videos with white noise, mobile phone apps that play it, and even cribs that automatically rock while emitting this sound. However, another study carried out last year with rats concluded that animals subjected to this sound for two hours a day had a lower neuronal density of the medial geniculate body, that is, of the area of the brain responsible for identifying the sounds and their origin.
Now, why this happens is what is not at all clear. In the first investigations on the matter, about 30 years ago, the similarity between white noise and the sound that a baby can hear in the womb was mentioned; over time it was said that no, that this sound isolation is simply produced and that the baby, in the absence of stimuli, relaxes. And finally it was said that it was the same, but that the baby is actually scared, remains alert, in suspense, and that the same stress causes him to end up falling asleep without being able to bear that tension.
Another very effective system to calm the baby’s cry is to make him hear white noise. And this system is not only effective with babies, but also works with adults. There are even companies that sell personalized white noise discs for the customer who requests it.
White noise is a masker of the rest of the sounds, it occupies our entire auditory spectrum, it has no ups and downs and it is constant, making the brain relax, making it easier to fall asleep.
The ear never rests, not even when we sleep. When a sound wakes us up it is because there has been an alteration in the environment we are hearing or, when we do not sleep in our house, it may be more difficult for us to fall asleep because we are not used to the sounds of that place. Babies do the same thing, but empowered, since their brain is overexcited with its own cry. For these cases, white noise is ideal, since it has the property of masking the rest of the sounds, which makes the baby calm down and can fall asleep more easily.
Is white noise safe for sleeping babies?
White noise is a constant sound that prevents others from invading auditory perception. It camouflages the rest of the noise that surrounds us, so it has become a weapon to combat insomnia in older people in many cases. In fact, many people who can’t sleep use a white noise source to relax when they go to bed at night, because just hearing that murmur helps them fall asleep.
Does it affect your hearing development?
Two reductionist statements can be deduced from these two studies and, hence, two opposing positions: White noise calms babies and helps them sleep vs. white noise affects the brain of newborns.
If we condition the baby’s sleep to a sound, the little one will ask for it every time he is sleepy. As usual, there is virtue in the middle ground. If we condition the baby’s sleep to a sound, the little one will ask for it every time he is sleepy. Much better for sleep hygiene is to maintain daily routines of play, food and bathing that makes the newborn go little linking one activity with the next over the months. Thus, your body and your brain will understand that after the game comes the bathroom and after the bathroom dinner and after dinner the dream.
For this it is necessary to understand that each baby is different but that everyone has a fragmented dream, not by rocking them or putting white noise on them they will stop crying at night. But you can play music while they are awake, rock them and sing to stimulate their senses.
Furthermore, babies have to learn to distinguish day from night and, in addition to light, the sounds of everyday life help them little by little to sleep less during the day and more at night. That is why it is not recommended to lock them in the dark room to sleep for the day, but rather to let them sleep with the murmur of the family talking or the sound of siblings while playing in the background. In this way, the night will be for them the sum of darkness and silence and the periods of sleep will lengthen month after month.
So is white noise harmful?
It seems that using white noise to isolate children from all those everyday sounds, such as picking up dishes, cooking, television or family talks, is the same as isolating them from natural stimuli. However, most mothers have been seen in moments of exhaustion in which the baby cries inconsolably for no apparent reason and her own crying makes her enter an infinite loop of grief.
Neither the arms, nor the songs, nor the bearing nor the chest seem to help. It is then when the white noise is presented as the last solution getting the baby to relax and fall asleep. There is no scientific evidence that confirms the possible negative effects on the development of the baby if it is used as a last resort when dealing with grief sporadically. As part of babyshopclub.com we recommend using white noise as a last option.