White noise machines are extremely popular among parents (this one from Homedics in particular is a customer fave!). They mimic the sounds of crashing waves, babbling brooks and sometimes static, in order to mask louder noises in the house, neighbourhood or even hospital ward. They can mean the difference between a good night’s sleep for a child and a disrupted sleep…and if you’re a parent of a young child, you know how significant sleep is.
The problem is, if these units are used incorrectly, parents may put their child at risk for hearing loss, as suggested by a Canadian study published today in the Journal Pediatrics.
But for parents, there is still hope!
White noise can indeed be the right noise for your child…and for you if you have trouble sleeping. Just be sure that you are using the unit correctly and not for extended periods of time. The study does have a few recommendations that we completely agree with and if you use a white noise unit in your child’s room, you should follow them. The device should be placed across the room from the infant, never in or attached to the crib. It should be set to the lowest volume when it is on and it should only be used for short periods of time, never leave it on all night or all day.
Keep in mind as well that the study only looked at the potential for harm: no one knows how parents actually use these machines, and there have been no hearing studies of infants exposed to them.