One of the more common questions I’m asked, is, “What is the best way to use white noise.” Of course there isn’t just one answer. It depends on what it’s being used for, who’s using it and what state are they in when it’s being used. I will attempt to go through the most common scenarios and offer my tips and suggestions. And as I always say, everyone is different, and what I’m about to suggest isn’t gospel… it’s just a starting off point.
A Hysterical Baby
On those nights when baby is just beside themselves and screaming at the top of their lungs, try a little shushing before bringing in the white noise. The main reason being, they aren’t even going to hear the white noise over their own cry. First get their attention by using the shush technique. When you’ve quieted that little baby roar to a volume quieter than the volume you’ll be playing your baby sleep sound (around 50db), then turn on the white noise. A common mistake parents often make is introducing the white noise during the peak of the meltdown and then becoming frustrated when it doesn’t work because the baby doesn’t hear it. First shush, then white noise.
A Fussy Baby
If it’s one of those nights where your clean diapered, full bellied baby isn’t happy and just won’t go down, white noise may just be what the doctor ordered. This can especially be true if using white noise has become part of your bedtime routine. When that familiar sound comes on, the calm shouldn’t be too far behind. A nice swaddle is also the perfect companion to your white noise.
As a Masking Sound
Maybe it’s not the getting your baby to sleep that’s the tough part, but it’s the keeping them
asleep that can be the challenge. Whether it’s the creaky floor board, the neighbor’s dog or the UPS man knocking on the door, white noise is great for keeping those disruptive sounds at bay. Have your speakers on the opposite side of the room from your baby. Then make sure the sound level measured by your baby’s head is right around 50db. The idea is that we want to fill the room with sound, thus masking out all the unwanted noise from external sources. Yes, often the greatest weapon against noise, is noise.
I should also note that using white noise as a masking sound isn’t just for babies, and it’s not just for sleeping. Adults who are light sleepers also have great success using white noise. Also, white noise isn’t always synonymous with sleeping. It’s becoming more and more common to hear it playing in the office space to give you a little “privacy” in your cubicle. And the reason why your doctor is playing sounds of the ocean in the waiting room… it’s not just to help relax you, but to mask out some of the conversations around you too.
As Relaxation Sounds
It’s been a hectic day. Nothing has gone right and you’re about at the end of your rope. Try adding some white noise. Now, we’re not talking about your baby’s white noise in this situation, because, let’s face it… the sound of the vacuum cleaner isn’t going to relax anyone. Try a white noise Nature Sound. The sound of the ocean, or a gentle rain, or a rushing river block out the crazy world around us and take us to a place much happier. And nature sounds make for a perfect backdrop for your power nap as well. If you're trying to find your calm while still being productive, pick a volume loud enough to block out the distractions around you. If the Nature Sounds are a being used as a backdrop for sleep time, go with a volume a little lower.
White noise can be an extremely effective tool for you and your baby. And this list if ideas is just the beginning. Whatever situation you choose to use it for, it may take a little experimentation to find just the right time and setting to use it. Be patient and let the white noise bring you your peace.