Infant sleep machines and noise
Many parents use these machines to mask other sounds like sirens outside. But as a recent study at the University of Toronto showed, these machines can (and do) exceed accepted volume levels for adults, let alone infants.
And finally, here you can watch a marketing video, produced by “MomMe Must Haves”.
Of course no one knowingly hurts or upsets their children. The research from U of T recommends that if you are going to use one of these machines, move it further away and turn down the volume. Or perhaps cuddling and humming or singing to your baby might be just as effective (more effective?) than a machine in the room, even if the machine can play your baby’s favourite songs? (Do infants really have favourite songs? Really?)
And yes, there is another side to this issue. Here are the concluding words from Melinda Wenner Moyer’s response in Slate to the brouhaha about these machines:
“So where does this leave us? Clearly we need more research on white noise. Until we get it, I’ll turn my sound machine down a few notches and avoid letting my kid snuggle ear-to-speaker with those white-noise-making stuffed animals. But am I going to worry, based on this study, that I’ve caused my son irreparable hearing loss or swear off using a sound machine when baby No. 2 arrives? No. First, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never put my sound machine on its most abrasive setting, turned it all the way up, and placed it within a foot of my son’s ears for eight hours at a time. Second, while it’s true that parents may not have needed white-noise machines 20 years ago or 2,000 years ago, the world is different now. And while it’s important to consider risks when we make choices in how we raise our kids today, we shouldn’t forget that these same choices can provide important benefits, and that the two need to be weighed together. I am certain that white noise has helped my son get a lot more shut-eye these last few years, and that this extra sleep has been undeniably good for his health and development — not to mention my sanity.” (You can read her whole piece here.)
Where do I stand? Moyer’s article makes sense to me, since she is suggesting that we use our brains when deciding about how we raise our children. But I am concerned about the impact of all the noise to which we are incessantly exposed. It makes me think of what Dr. Branzaft wrote (see the previous post), where she argued against our “getting used” to noise. That is not a good solution. Reducing the levels of noise, when we can, is a better choice. So if your child has difficulty going to sleep, yes, perhaps a white noise machine could help. But then again, maybe there is another way to help her/him?