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  • Writer's pictureKevin Hale

How Can the Sound of a Vacuum Get My Baby to Sleep?

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

It’s a valid question. How are we really suppose to believe that the sound of something that sends the pets diving for cover can calm a baby?

Well, the difference between you and your baby (and your pets), is that your baby loves noise. But not just any noise… white noise. You see, those first nine months of your baby’s life living in it’s mother’s womb, is time spent in constant noise. (Okay, technically the baby doesn’t start hearing until 18-20 weeks, but you get the idea.) Constant LOUD noise made up of a combination of the mother’s breathing, beating heart, blood circulating and even mom’s growling stomach. When you start layering all these sounds, they stop sounding like anything specific, and become more of a wall of sound… which is what white noise is. And just to put everything in perspective, the volume in the womb is around 75 decibels, which is about as loud as your gas powered lawn mower.

Sleeping baby

Now imagine having all that noise, that you’ve lived with for every second of every day of your life, suddenly gone. A world of noise, to a world of quiet. That can be very stressful for a newborn. Cue the white noise sleep sounds. Sounds like the vacuum, or the hair dryer, or the running water are very similar to white noise. They are a wall of a constant, even sound and produce something similar to what your baby lived with every day before they were born.

So the fact that some parents swear by the sound of the vacuum (or the washing machine, or the clothes dryer, or the shower, or the fan, etc.) shouldn’t be much of a surprise. It really doesn’t matter what the device is behind the noise, just as long as it produces that white noise type sound. And because there’s no one quite as resourceful as a sleep deprived parent, parent’s quickly figure out what white noise generating thing in their house connects with their child and get’s them to sleep.

There’s also another extra added benefit of using white noise baby sleep sounds for your child, and that’s their sound masking quality. Have a noisy barking dog next door? Or know the mailman will be knocking on the door during nap time? White noise does a masterful job of blocking out unwanted noise. When you have a wall of sound present, you’re really not going to notice changes in the other sounds around you.

When it comes to calming your baby, noise probably ins’t the first thing that comes to mind in achieving that goal. But it’s not any type of noise, it’s white noise. And yes, the vacuum cleaner is just one of the many baby sleep sounds that produce that type of white noise that seems to putting our little ones at ease. So the next time you’re struggling at bed time, make sure they’re belly is full, they’re dry, you’ve got the perfect swaddle in effect, AND you’ve added that final critical piece… white noise.

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