Do you have a hard time putting baby to sleep? Contrary to belief, keeping your nursery completely silent may not be the answer.
Think about it - back in your cosy womb, baby is used to all kinds of white noise lulling her in and out of sleep. Naturally, it will be difficult for baby to adjust to a completely quiet nursery out in the human world.
Which explains the existence of baby sound machines, and why they are so important. Especially in the early days as sleep is so crucial to both baby and mother. It can be a lifesaver, no exaggeration there.
Baby Sound Machine Reviews
Also known as a white noise machine, here are our top picks of some of the best baby sound machines in town (in no particular order):
Best White Noise Machine for Baby
The very original that has been around for more than 50 years, Yogasleep is the gold standard in white noise machines. It is the best fan for white noise because it has this built-in real fan inside that creates soothing sound of rushing air (the best white noise) without the disturbance of actual moving air. Despite being a very straightforward machine without much fancy features, it is regarded as one of the very best baby noise machine because it truly drowns out almost all sounds.
*Can be used by adults too (the best white noise machine for snoring).
Best Portable Sound Machine for Baby
For a portable version of the Yogasleep, the brand has came out with this Hushh model which is equally as excellent. At just 3.5" in diameter and 3.8 ounces, it fits easily in a diaper bag and comes with a baby-safe clip that attaches to virtually anything. There are 3 sound options (bright white noise, deep white noise and gentle surf) which you can adjust the volume and features a child lock. We especially like how it is USB rechargeable, and has an LED nightlight to prevent any stumbles.
Best Baby Sound Machine (soft toy)
Just because it is called a machine does not mean it has to look like one. This unassuming Sleep Sheep looks like your usual cuddly soft toy at a glance but it is actually a sound machine for baby. Featuring four soothing sound options (from gentle stream to ocean surf), you can say this is the best nature sound machine. It also has a hook to clip onto the crib, stroller or even car seat so this is another best portable sound machine to consider. We like how it comes with auto shut off function.
*Available in a bigger size with night light (in the form of gentle water reflections).
Best Sleep Machine with Breathing Motion
While we are on the topic of soft, cuddly sound machines, here is another option. But that's not the main reason - this cute otter actually mimics the rhythmic motion of breathing to naturally soothe baby with its soft belly that moves in an up-and-down motion. Along with up to 30 minutes of calming music, sound effects and soft lights, you can customize it just the way baby likes. Overall, its design engages 11 sensory discoveries to engage baby’s sight, hearing and touch senses.
*Available in a Koala design too.
Best Multi-functional Baby Sleep Machine
This is a favourite - the Hatch Baby Rest that combines nightlight, sound machine and a time-to-rise alert all in one easy-to-use device. All these, controllable via your phone! Yes, imagine this: baby woke up in the middle of the night and you can just turn on the soothing sounds using your phone. Doubling as a nightlight, there is also a time-to-rise setting for when baby becomes older. Colour, brightness, sound and volume level are all customizable with presets (sound + colour combinations) recommended by sleep experts available for selection. Program them to turn on automatically, or tap on manually as needed.
*Available in Rest+ version (additional features i.e. 2-way audio monitor, toddler sleep trainer, kids alarm clock)
*Adult version here (personal sleep routine, wind down content, reading light)
Best Sound Machine with Projector
The market isn't short of baby sound machines that come with a projector, however, we like the Skip Hop Baby Soother best amongst all. Its serene stars and moon projection has an adjustable pivot lens that projects onto any surface so baby can see the luminous sky from their favourite sleeping position. You get to choose the accompanying light (dimmable) and sound combination (melodies and nature sounds) to go with it, and there is an auto-off timer available that you can set for up to an hour.
*Available in an Owl version too.
Best Baby Sound Machine with Voice Recorder
Here's another baby sound machine from Skip Hop but this one here allows you to record your own voice so that you can comfort baby with your own voice no matter where you are! This is on top of the existing 3 lullabies and 3 soothing white sounds, and the removable sound module is easy to set and customize. We especially like how it features an innovative cry-activated smart sensor that automatically responds to cries (and the ability to distinguish it with other sounds) so you can get a good night's sleep. Attach easily onto the crib.
Best Rated Baby Sound Machine
When it comes to the best rated baby sound machine, it has to be this one from VTech. We're talking about a close to perfect score, from about 2,000 ratings. It's not hard to see why - Myla has melodies, ambient sounds and white noises all incorporated, which are about all the sounds you'd ever find in a baby sound machine. On top of that, gentle lights emit from Myla's cheeks and its brightness is adjustable via the button tummy. It has an auto-off timer for up to 60 minutes and its little hook (Myla's stretchable tail) makes it one of the best portable baby sound machine. Best of all? Rechargeable batteries.
Best Cheap Baby Sound Machine
It doesn't come any cheaper than this. Slightly over just $10, this Project Nursery model is easily the most affordable white noise machine cheapest sleep sound machine on the market. It doesn't compromise on quality, though. From natural sounds to lullabies, to adjustable sleep timer and glow-in-the-dark buttons, this little device is perfect for those looking for an affordable, no-fuss baby sound machine. Flexible clip attaches easily to handles and bags.
Best Natural Shushing Sound
Ok, so no baby sound machine reviews will be complete without the Baby Shusher. Dubbed the "sleep miracle", this award-winning device is a popular contender when it comes to "the best baby shower gift". The reason? It draws on the time-tested practice - shushing - to put baby to sleep. This loud, rhythmic sound reminds baby of being inside mom, where they were inundated 24 hours a day with loud sounds of blood flow and other utero noises. Andddd.......it does this using a real human voice. The results? Lulling your baby to sleep, freeing your precious time. It helps that it is so portable and easy to use - just 15-30 minutes will assure even the most resistant sleepers will fall sound asleep!
*Also available in a gift pack - Baby Shusher Sleep Miracle Collection
Why Use A Baby Noise Machine?
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, a baby sound machine is also commonly known as a white noise machine. Incidentally, this is a machine that produces white noise.
What Is White Noise?
Without going too technical into it (there are many extensive explanation you can look up on the Internet), white noise is:
"A sound created when different frequencies of sound that is audible to the human ear and brain (between 20 - 20,000HZ) are put together at a similar level."
Now, you might think: whoa, isn't that gonna sound messy? Yes, when you can still pick out and identify individual sounds from a mesh of background, it is going to be noisy.
BUT - when all sounds of different frequencies are put together at the same time, it blurs into that of a 'hissing' or 'shushing' sound which you can no longer decipher separately. And THIS, is what you call 'white noise'.
So, How Does This Works on Babies?
First and foremost, white noise promotes relaxation prior to sleep by providing this constant, soothing sound that helps baby's brain to settle down.
When the mind is quietened, it keeps baby from focusing on disruptive sounds which is what interferes with the process of falling asleep. This applies on adults as well, in fact.
Secondly, white noise helps drown out all unwanted sounds. You see, there are bound to be sudden noises which you won't be able to block out no matter how hard you try. A honk outside, a phone ringing next door, a noisy older sibling - they all may wake baby up anytime.
A white noise machine helps drown out all these sounds. It replicates this familiar environment that is Mom's belly, giving the same sense of security and comfort that is the womb.
Don't worry about the humming disturbing your baby - babies actually find them relaxing and soothing. So yes, the upshot is that: the constant, repetitive noise will help lull them to sleep AND keep them asleep. Can we all get an Amen to that?
Where Should You Place Your Sound Machine?
It's important that you do not place your baby sound machine too near to baby. Yes, it is a great tool to help baby sleep but you don't want it damage your little one's hearing in any way by placing it too close by.
The general consensus is that it should be placed at least 7 feet away from baby's crib. Be careful to keep the volume low - under 50 decibels as advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) - to protect baby's hearing.
It goes without saying that the machine shouldn't be within baby's reach, and that you should keep all cords safely tuck away.
4. Other Alternatives
If you do not want to spend extra money getting a white noise sound machine, you can definitely go the old school way of using a stand fan. It generates pretty much the same white noise, just make sure it is not blowing directly on your baby!
Another device that will work, and something that you may already have gotten for your nursery anyway, is the humidifier. We have an extensive review about the best types here which after reading, you may consider getting one of them instead of a white noise machine in the end.
5. A Word of Caution
There are published reports out there analysing the disadvantages of white noise/sound machines, the two main concerns being sound machines, if exceeding the recommended 50 decibels noise level, will potentially cause hearing damage or delay language and speech development in childre.
While it does not say that all noise machines will cause these problems, we thought it is something you may want to know. If you're getting the stronger ones, make sure they are placed at least 2 metres away from your baby and it should be safe. Sound soothers designed specially for the crib like the Cloud B Sleep Sheep are generally safe so you do not have to be overly concern.
You can go and record the sound of rain, wind or ocean (all of which have a similar effect because they are actually different tones created by the forces of Mother Nature) and play it to your baby, or you can buy a white noise or sound machine that does exactly just that, without all the hassle and fuss.
Before you go, you may like to check out the following articles related to child surveillance as well: