White noise for our babies is an amazing thing. I was blown away, as I know many other parents have been, to see just how effective how these sounds are in almost immediately calming our children. I’ve spent a lot of time in past articles talking about why using white noise is so effective with infants (see “Why Babies Like White Noise" ), so I won’t go into great detail about it here… but the Cliff’s Notes version is, while in the womb, babies developed in a world of constant noise, so it makes sense that this noise they’ve continuously been exposed to, would calm them.
While us parent’s love the fact that these baby sleep sounds work so well for our kids, most of us aren’t exactly thrilled with the sounds themselves. I don’t think you will find a bigger fan of white noise for babies than me, however the LAST thing I want to hear when I’m trying to fall asleep is the sound of the vacuum cleaner, or the hair dryer or the washing machine. Me, I’m a fan of hearing the ocean or the nice low rumble of a Thunderstorm… Nature Sleep Sounds are what bring me comfort.
So… does that magical world exist where our babies can fall asleep and find comfort to a sleep sound that also possess similar qualities to grown ups as well? Co-sleepers rejoice, because that answer is a definite YES! Of course, since no two people are alike, it might take a little bit of trial and error to zero in on those sounds that both parent and child will find acceptable. But rather than starting from scratch, there are ways to narrow down the list.
First of all, one of the things that all baby sleep sounds have in common is the type of sound they are emitting. One of the common characteristics the vacuum, hair dryer, shower and electric fan share is that they are a consistent, steady wall of sound. If you were to look at a visual representation of these sounds on a wave form monitor, they would almost be a straight line…. no peaks and valleys, or ups and downs of the volume level. Remember, that consistent, constant sound is the only thing our babies heard whey they were in the womb… they have a emotional connection to that sound, and hearing it brings them comfort.
Like I mentioned above, sounds that bring me comfort and help me sleep are the sound of the ocean and of thunderstorms. Those sounds would be my starting point. You should also make a list of what sounds connect with you. Then from there, look at the traits of your list of sounds… are they relatively consistent in their volume levels? If not, start eliminating the sounds with a lot of ups and down’s from your list. Or see if you can find a version of that sound that is more or less consistent. For instance…some recordings of the ocean really focus on the waves crashing on the shore… you get the initial boom of the wave hitting the beach, followed by the splash and spray, and then the quieter sounds of the water retreating back into the ocean. Whereas other ocean recordings are done farther way from waves and give you more of a consistent over all roar of the ocean. While both are great and sound wonderful, if your looking for something pleasing to both you and baby, the Ocean Roar would be the better choice. (And interestingly enough, the steady roar of the ocean also sounds remarkably similar to Brown noise, which works very well for some children.)
So, yes! Some of your favorite Nature Sleep Sounds can also be a very effective Baby Sleep Sound. Just be sure that when you’re selecting your Nature Sound you find one that is steady and consistent without a lot of volume changes (the ocean roar, a rushing river, a steady rain shower). When looking for those traits one can find sleep sounds that are pleasing for both parent and child.