Life Hacker: There are lots of white noise and other sound machines (and apps) marketed for getting babies and kids to fall asleep—and stay asleep. But before you reach for the soothing sounds, there are a few things to consider.
Certain sounds are naturally soothing, relaxing, and help promote sleep (rainforest sounds or ocean waves, for example). But white noise, or even something like soft lullaby music, can also serve to block out noises that might be interfering with a child’s sleep, from city noises outside to the sound of older siblings playing in another room.
Many babies will fall asleep faster with white noise playing in the background, and stay asleep longer. In particular, babies who are accustomed to being around a lot of noise or sleeping through noise might find the total silence of nighttime to be a more challenging environment to fall asleep in. Then again, other babies simply won’t like the white noise. If you do decide to (safely) try a sound machine, you may way to start with a free app first to determine whether they’re in the “yay” or “nay” category when it comes to white noise.
The cons: Even if you’re reveling in some better sleep now, if you’re not careful, the white noise usage may create other, more longterm problems. As Healthline reports:
In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) tested 14 white noise machines designed for infants. They found that all of them exceeded recommended noise limits, which is set at 50 decibels. In addition to increased hearing problems, the study found that using white noise increased the risk of problems with language and speech development.