Making noise to help your baby sleep can seem like just about the most unnatural thing in the world to do, but there is a method to this madness. Until he was born, your baby spent his entire existence inside the mother’s womb, which is, quite frankly, a very loud place. Consider this; prior to being born, your baby spent his entire existence surrounded by fluid. Although fluid greatly muffles sound quality, it does transmit sound. Actually, it transmits sound quite efficiently. Consider the last time you were under water. You probably could not make out clearly anything that was being said above the surface of the water, but you were able to hear noise quite clearly. Studies have shown that the average noise level inside the mother’s womb is about twice as loud as a typical vacuum cleaner, making it a very loud place indeed for baby.
Your baby spent most of her time in the womb asleep. The muffled noise, as loud as it was, not only did not hinder her from sleeping, but actually helped her to get the sleep she needed so that her developing body could get the rest it needed. White noise, fairly level tones played at a volume roughly equal to that of a vacuum cleaner, can simulate that environment for your baby, helping her filter out noises that may be more stimulating, and cause baby to want to stay awake to satisfy her curiosity.
White noise can come in many forms. CDs are available with a variety of white noise sounds, as are machines specially designed to create white noise. If you don’t wish to use one of those items, you can get by without spending any extra money by simply turning a fan on in the room where baby sleeps, or even by vacuuming the floors when it’s time for baby’s nap. Fans are perhaps the best source of white noise, because they offer the added benefit of circulating the air in the room, something which has been shown to reduce instances of SIDS.
Whatever you use to create the white noise, try to keep the volume at about the same level as a vacuum cleaner. While this is not as loud as it is in the womb, it is generally loud enough to drown out outside noises without hurting your baby’s ears.