Are Noise Machines Safe?
There has recently been research done that indicates that white noise machines are not good for the baby’s hearing. A new study in Pediatrics suggests that some noise machines can produce sounds so loud that they could potentially damage infants’ hearing and auditory development. Here is what Dr. Karp has to say about that. Surprisingly, babies cry usually reach levels up to 100 dB (as loud as a power lawnmower…and 10 times louder than a hair drier ). Loud sounds, like vacuum cleaner and hair drier sounds, have been recommended by pediatricians and parenting books for decades to calm fussy babies. But, it is very important to remind parents to only use very loud noise during infant crying. However, the new study just released by the journal Pediatrics omitted 3 critical points: 1) In the womb, all babies are exposed to the sound of whooshing through the arteries…that is louder than a vacuum cleaner (measured at 75-92dB)…24/7. 2) Moderate sound – used all night – is perfectly safe and has been shown to be helpful in boosting sleep, which is why so many families use white noise CDs and downloads. 3) Noise injury is primarily related to the high pitch of sound. The 3 sleep sounds on The Happiest Baby white noise CD are specially engineered to reduce high pitch and amplify low pitch frequencies. That makes them safer…and makes them closer to the sounds babies actually hear in the womb than any other source of white noise. When considering recommending white noise for babies, it is extremely important to consider the potential life saving benefits of white noise. Poor infant sleep causes parent exhaustion..and that leads to many very dangerous situations…including postpartum depression, maternal obesity, child abuse and sleep deaths because the exhausted parents put the baby on the stomach or bring the baby into their bed…which causes ~1000 accidental suffocation deaths/year. By enhancing sleep (and reducing crying) low pitched, rumbly white noise may help prevent these very serious problems. So when a baby cries, increase sound level – for a few minutes – to the level of a vacuum cleaner. And, for safe naps and all night sleeping keep the sound about the level of a soft shower. (Encourage parents to place the sound within a few feet of the baby’s sleep area…and to listen to the sound themselves…to judge whether it is too loud.) In the study’s conclusion, the authors correctly recommend sound machine sellers to instruct parents on the dangers of loud sound played for extended periods. However they cite no evidence to support their recommendations that the sound needs to be as far as possible and as quiet as possible. If sound is played not at an adequate level, it completely fails to work. There is a “sweet spot” that is effective to promote sleep (65-70dB all night)…and a totally different “sweet spot” (~90dB) to stop crying. http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/03/health/noise-machines-study/
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