You’ve probably gone through, like every carer of a little one, the agony of seeing your baby being woken at night by some disturbing external noise. It can be quite painful, on your baby’s behalf and your own, to go through such an experience night after night. And how you wish you could find something to see your child blissfully sleep through all the night-time noises! Well, actually there’s something that’s designed to do just that. It’s called a sound machine. Crafted exclusively to help your baby sleep undisturbed through the night, a sound machine is packed with different kinds of sound to help your child get used to extraneous noises without being disturbed by them. That, of course, is the best part of such a machine. The bad part is that with so many such machines out there, finding the best sound machine for baby is not the easiest of tasks. We’ve tried here to make the job easier for you by giving you a complete run-down on how to choose one.
Top 4 best sound machines for baby
Marpac DOHM-DS Sound Machine
The Marpac DOHM-DS, Natural White Noise (actual fan inside) Sound Machine, White, is a white noise machine that’s been officially approved by the National Sleep Foundation of America. The range of sound it emanates, thanks to its two-speed operation, is one feature that you’re likely to love about this device. The machine creates a typical `rushing air’ kind of static, with the help of its in-built fan. It’s ideal for use in a nursery as well as a day care center or an apartment – in fact, it’s useful in any place where there’s too much ambient noise to allow your child to sleep peacefully.
- Provides soothing ambient noise that masks all extraneous and disturbing noises
- Convenient and attractive packaging to enable easy portability
- Durable plastic construction makes it a solid and long-lasting, yet lightweight device
- Speed, as well as size of sound hole opening, can be easily adjusted and customized as per need
- Unique assymetrical fan provides tone and volume flexibility
- Easy to use, with 8-foot power cord
- Designed for use in North America only
- Noise can be irritating and disturbing for some
- Volume control is poor
- Plastic body tends to heat up and starts smelling after some time
Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine
The soothing sounds of the Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine, White, make it a good device to try out if you’re looking for a good quality, non-intrusive sound machine to help your baby sleep. One feature that makes it a great gadget to have around is its MP3 player plug-in facility, which allows you to play your little one’s favorite songs simply by connecting to this machine.
- Has 12 high-quality soothing sounds, along with MP3 plug-in feature
- Equipped with timer for automatic switch-off; this also helps save battery power
- Intuitive controls make this machine quite easy and convenient to use
- Has a soft glow nightlight which you can use to check on your baby without disturbing it
- Space-saving design makes the machine suitable for travel or moving from one corner of the house to another
- Comes with dual power option – you can use either AC plug-in or batteries to power it up
- Highest volume is pretty loud and can harm your baby if the machine is inadvertantly kept at that level
- Loose cheap parts make rattling noise
- Not built for long-lasting use
- Night lights can’t be switched off
Cloud b Sound Machine Soother
Your little one can cuddle it during the day and play itself to sleep with this machine at night. The dual function Cloud b Sound Machine Soother, Sleep Sheep, Eight Sounds, is packed with the soothing sounds of nature and the comforting sound of a mother’s heartbeat. What makes it really convenient to use is the velcro tab which you can use to secure it on the exterior of your baby’s crib.
- Has two sleep-timer options, one for 23 minutes and the other for 45 minutes
- Contains 2 AA batteries for convenience and ease of use
- Sound machine can easily be taken out of the toy
- Comes with a range of 8 sounds, easily controlled by four buttons
- Volume control is easy, with a simple dial mechanism
- Not really crafted to last long
- Doesn’t contain any white noise
Baby Shusher – The Soothing Sleep Miracle for Babies
The manufacturers call this a revolutionary product. Whether or not the Baby Shusher – The Soothing Sleep Miracle for Babies is the mircale device they claim it to be, one innovative feature which does stand out is the speed with which it can soothe and put a baby to sleep. The secret evidently lies in the sound machine’s rhythmic, time-tested `shush’ sound.
- Has built-in sound sensor, along with user-controlled volume
- Comes with two timer options (15 and 30 minutes)
- Uses recorded human voice to help the baby sleep
- Flexibility for use even while traveling – in crib, stroller, car etc
- Strap is included in this BPA-free product
- Difficult to use single-handed as switch controls are the twisting type
- Can’t be placed on the floor or any other surface
- Needs a screw driver to change the battery
We know how difficult it can be for you to put your little one to sleep in the midst of chaotic noises, which are a given whether you live in an urban or a rural setting. Contrarily, it can be equally difficult to put it to sleep in total silence. A sound machine is thus a good option to create the right kind of ambient noise for your little one to sleep peacefully. But the challenge lies in choosing the best sound machine for your specific needs.
As long as you remember to keep the volume within manageable levels, the Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine, White, seems to be a good option. The convenience of using it to play your baby’s favorite lullabies with its MP3 plug-in mechanism gives this device an edge over the others. Even without plugging in the MP3, it offers a range of 12 soothing sounds to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep for your little one. The automatic switch-off facility and intuitive controls are other features of the device that you’d probably like. And to add to the benefits is the portability of this sound machine, which, incidentally, also has a dual power option and a nightlight to help you check unobtrusively on your sleeping child.
What does a sound machine really do?
Well, the name says it all. It’s a machine that makes sounds which are soothing to your baby’s ears and help block off other, jarring sounds, thus enabling your child to sleep well through the night. Also called a sound conditioner or a white noise machine, a sound machine basically works by helping your child get used to sounds in the background while trying to sleep. Though they work on the same broad principle, a key difference between a sound machine and a white noise machine is that the latter produces electronic static and thus helps mask external noises in the background. A regular sound machine also does the same thing but plays natural sounds and melodies in addition to statics.
How it works
As to the how a sound machine works to help your baby sleep, it’s all about giving your child an environment that’s somewhat similar to that of the womb. After all, the womb is where your baby spent nine months in the midst of all kinds of noises. So trying to put your little one to sleep in the dead quiet of a room is an onerous task indeed. And once asleep, the chances of it being jolted to wakefulness at the slightest of sounds are high. By producing a constant kind of noise, a sound machine works to drown any external noises, thus helping your child remain asleep.
Kinds of sound machines for baby
As mentioned, there’s now a large variety of baby sound machines to choose from. It’s a matter of getting hold of the one that comes closest to your specific needs, and of course that of your baby.
Portable sound machine: If you’re a frequent traveler and want a sound machine that travels with you, the portable variety has obvious advantages. This kind of machine is battery-powered, with the new ones packed with rechargeable batteries that you can easily charge with a USB cable.
Plug-in sound machine: Here’s another convenient variety that simply needs to be plugged into an electric outlet to play.
Stuffed animal type: Yes, you guessed it right. The case of this sound machine is shaped like a stuffed animal, with which your baby can play itself to sleep.
Combination: Ideal for those parents, and kids, who love variety. If you’re not able to decide between two kinds of sounds or sound machines, try the combination variety, which merges the features of more than one machine. These kinds include alarm clock, baby mobile, baby monitor, night light/projector and more.
Things to look out for
Once you’ve decided which kind of sound machine you’d rather opt for, here are a few things you ought to check out before buying one.
The first thing you may like to look at is whether it’s powered by electricity or batteries or a USB port. Batteries, of course, come with the advantage of anytime, anywhere use, but then they are somewhat on the expensive side. So the choice of powering would eventually be guided by your budget. Nowadays, many sound machines come with a remote control, which helps switch off the device without getting close to it once your baby is asleep. In some machines, you’ll find a sleep timer fitted in, which allows you to pre-set the time for switching it off. That works really well if you’re familiar with your child’s sleep pattern. On the flip side, however, this kind of machine won’t play through the night. So it’s important to decide which one suits your needs best.
Then you need to consider the kind of sound the machine makes. From animal sounds, white noise and heartbeats to nursery rhymes and natural sounds such as waterfalls and waves, sound machines these days are packed with a huge variety of ambient sounds. As a carer, you’d know what’s likely to work best for your baby, so choose accordingly.
Visual appeal is another point to be factored in while purchasing a sound machine – after all, you don’t want an ugly-looking machine by your baby’s side. In any case, with so many designs available, why not go for one which gels with the decor of your child’s nursery.
A word of caution
Like all things to do with your baby, purchasing a sound machine also requires a degree of caution. You naturally wouldn’t want to buy something that’s likely to be harmful for your precious little bundle of joy, so before you take the plunge, check out how loud the machine is. Excessive volume can be counter-productive to your child as it can damage its ears. Find a machine with safe sound levels. Also, be careful about how long you should let the machine run and how close to the child you should keep it. Since over-exposure can be really detrimental to your baby’s hearing, getting a machine with a timer may be a good idea.