White Noise: Not the Right Noise
If you've been having trouble getting your baby to sleep, you're not alone. But before you buy an infant noise machine to drown out the bumps (and TV voices) in the night, you should know that a new study in the journal Pediatrics suggests that those devices produce sounds so loud that they exceed safe levels for adults ─ levels that are potentially even more dangerous for infants.
While the study, “Infant Sleep Machines and Hazardous Sound Pressure Levels,” was intended to measure the maximum output levels of these machines, the findings indicate that continual use of noise machines could cause damage to infants' hearing and hamper auditory development.
Fourteen different infant noise machines were tested in the study, and all 65 sounds were played at their maximum volume. The researchers placed the machines at different distances from the crib: at 30, 100 and 200 centimeters. All of the machines tested exceeded 50 decibels, the current recommended noise limit for hospital nurseries, and several of the machines had a noise output of more than 85 decibels. All but one machine exceeded the noise limit from 200 centimeters.
Researchers determined that exposure to these machines on a nightly basis could affect hearing, speech and language development. If you do use noise machines in your baby’s room, experts suggest that you place them more than 200 centimeters from the crib and keep the volume low.