How Loud Should White Noise Be for Baby?

The hardest task of almost all parents especially new parents, is how to sleep their baby fast. Everyone gives their suggestions depending upon their experience and different methods. You will feel it weird but noise can really help your baby to fall asleep but this is white noise. But the real question is how loud should white noise be for baby. 

The latest research conducted in 2023 on the effect of white noise on baby sleep proved that it increases 2 hours of sleep with fewer awakening events.

The maximum threshold level of white noise recommended by NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) is 85 dB. So any white noise machine producing more than 85 dB of sound at ear level is dangerous for babies as it can cause noise-induced hearing loss. 

In this article, we will discuss how loud should white noise be for the baby so that is not harmful to your little one but helpful in sleep as well. 

What is White Noise?

White noise is a sound that reduces environmental noise. It consists of different sound waves but with equal frequencies and has no ups and downs. There are different examples of white noise surrounding us like lower continuous sound if slow speed fan or continuous rain sound etc. It is a non-pharmacological way used to help improve sleep quality.

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There are a lot of machines and apps available which produce white noise of different frequencies. The loudness of white noise is variable and controlled by a controller mounted on the machine and also available in apps. 

For effective use, one must know how loud should white noise be for babies which is not harmful to your babies. 

how loud should white noise be for baby

How Loud should White Noise be for Baby?

An experiment conducted for this purpose used a white noise machine at maximum levels at the distance of 30, 100, and 200 cm. 3 machines produced more than 85 dB of white noise which is not the safe limit for the continuous time period. 

Another study conducted used 8 white noise machines and 6 iPhone apps to produce white noise at minimum and maximum levels. They found that no machine exceeded the recommended safe limit i.e. 85db at minimum setting. 

But on Maximum level 9 out of 14 exceeded the safe recommended level of 85db at 10 cm distance. No device exceeded 85db when placed at 30cm and 100 cm away from the ear canal.

So, My conclusion is that if you want to get safer and effective results, you can use a white noise machine at 70-80 db but the minimum distance should be 30 cm from your cute babies. If you place it nearer than 30 cm, it can cause noise-induced hearing loss in children. 

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When Should You Start and Stop White Noise for Your Babies?

You can start to use a white noise machine when you feel it is needed. In the medical field in the NICU, white noise is used to sleep premature babies. So it means it can be used from the very beginning like day one of the life of babies. 

Some parents used white noise until 2 years of age and others kept using it until 3-4 years of age. It’s up to you when to stop it. But you should stop it gradually decreasing the time and at last finishing it rather than stopping at once. 

how loud should white noise be for baby

How Does White Noise Help in Baby to Sleep?

There are 2 scientific explanations about the mode of action of white noise in helping sleep. The first one is that it is a very stable sound and its tone does not change. 

Owing to this, there is no change in the attention and mood of listeners. White noise is considered as natural sound like rain dripping on the ground and leaves moving in the wind. People feel more calm and more comfortable in such an environment and fall asleep easily.

The second reason is that white noise masks the other environmental noises. WHO claimed that nearly 25% population suffered from sleep disturbance due to ambient noise. White noise helps to improve the sleep quality of babies.

Pros and Cons of White Noise for Baby to Sleep

White noise is beneficial and helpful in baby sleep when used properly. But long time improper use can cause problems. 

Can cause noise-induced hearing loss if placed too near to the babyBabies can be addicted 
Improve sleep qualityLow-quality machines can cause problem
Make baby sleep earlier Some babies don’t like White Noise at all
Its under parental controlResembles with natural sounds like rain, Sea waves and leaves moving in wind, etc. 
Buying a white noise machine can be costly for some people Resembles with natural sounds like rain, Sea waves and leaves moving in the wind, etc. 
Have different choices of selecting noisesHave different choices for selecting noises

White Noise vs. Pink Noise

White noise as discussed earlier uses all the sound waves that humans can hear but on the same constant frequencies. It mask the environmental noise and has a soothing effect on babies as well as adult. 

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On the other hand pink noise is more deeper and lower sound waves. These are more soothing than white noise. Some mobile apps have booth options white noise as well as pink noise.  

Tips to Safely Use White Noise Machine

  • Only use white noise when it is needed to sleep the baby. Do not turn it on Without this purpose, when the baby is awakening
  • Always keep the white noise machine on the greater or equal to 30 cm from the baby
  • Use a good quality white noise machine
  • Always keep the volume lower than full
how loud should white noise be for baby

Common Mistakes Using White Noise Machines

If you want to take full advantage of white noise machines, you must avoid these mistakes:

  1. Turning Off the White noise machine when the baby is asleep

White noise is equally helpful in sleeping the baby as well as maintaining good quality sleep by avoiding periods of awakening. So do not turn it off when the baby sleeps. 

  1. Playing white Noise when your baby does not need it

Keep it turned off while the baby is playing or doing other activities. If you will keep it turned on, it will no longer have a soothing effect and you will not get the benefit while sleeping. 

  1. Low-Quality White Noise Machine

Always use a good quality white noise machine as it will produce accurate white noise. A lot of apps and machines are available that do not produce the required frequency of white noise which can harm your baby’s hearing sense. 

  1. Inaccurate Frequency of White Noise

Always keep the white noise machine volume lower than the maximum. It should not produce white noise more than 85dB. Always keep it at a safe distance from your child not nearer than 30 Cm.    


White noise is a nonpharmacological way of sleeping babies fast. It is a collection of different sounds with equal frequency which have the ability to mask environmental noise like car horns, traffic noise, door bells dog barking, etc. 

There is a safe limit of white noise that it should not exceed 80-85 dB and should be placed away from the baby at least 30cm away. If it is placed near and volume increases than 85 dB, it can cause noise-induced hearing loss. 

Overall it is safe to use in babies if it is used properly. But sometimes not suitable for some babies. Some can find it difficult to purchase white noise machines. 

White Noise machines are also available in mobile apps nowadays. But their accuracy is not sure. In the medical field, it is used to sleep premature babies in the NICU. It proves that it can be used at a very early age of baby without any harmful effects. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1: Can I use white noise for my newborn baby? 

A1: Yes, white noise can be used for newborns, but it’s important to keep the volume at a safe and soothing level, typically around 50 to 65 decibels.

Q2: How do I know if the white noise is too loud for my baby? 

A2: Watch for signs of discomfort, agitation, or the baby being unable to settle down. Adjust the volume if your baby appears distressed.

Q3: Are there any long-term risks associated with using white noise? 

A3: Excessive and prolonged exposure to loud white noise can potentially harm a baby’s hearing. Use it in moderation and at safe volume levels.

Q4: Is white noise suitable for babies with colic or sleep difficulties? 

A4: White noise can be helpful for babies with colic or sleep difficulties, as it provides a soothing background sound that masks disruptive noises.

Q5: Can I use white noise throughout the night for my baby? 

A5: Yes, you can use white noise throughout the night, but consider gradually reducing the volume as your baby sleeps deeply to prevent dependency.

Q6: What’s the difference between white noise and pink noise? 

A6: White noise has equal intensity across all frequencies, while pink noise has a softer, more soothing quality. Both can be used for sleep, but white noise is more common for babies.

Q7: Should I place the white noise machine inside the crib? 

A7: No, it’s recommended to position the white noise machine away from the crib to avoid direct exposure to the sound source.

Q8: Are there any age restrictions for using white noise with babies? 

A8: There are no strict age restrictions, but always use white noise in moderation and monitor your baby’s comfort and response.

Q9: Can white noise be used to help babies nap during the day? 

A9: Yes, white noise can be effective for daytime naps as well. It helps create a consistent sleep environment regardless of the time of day.


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