Sleep machines for infants are a popular choice for parents who want to ensure their infants aren’t disturbed by loud noises while they sleep.
However, the dangers of the machines can be similar to the ones adults face when listening to headphones too loudly on a consistent basis. According to a study shared last year by USA Today, sound machines may generate sounds that are too loud, increasing the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.
Blake Papsin and his colleagues at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto used a sound level meter to test the maximum noise levels of 65 sounds in 14 different infant sleep machines when they were placed at 3 distances: 11.7 inches (on a crib rail), 39 inches (on a table next to a crib) and 78 inches (placed across the room from a crib).
The sounds were nature-oriented (rain, wind, thunder, insects), white noise, and mechanical sounds (traffic, machinery) and heartbeat sounds.
The results showed that at their maximum volume:
- -11 infant sleep machines reached more than 50 decibels at 39 inches and 11.7 inches, the current recommended noise limit for infants in hospital nurseries.
- -13 infant sleep machines exceeded that recommended noise limit even when placed across the room at 78 inches.
- -When placed 11.7 inches away, 3 machines exceeded 85 decibels. If played continuously an infant would be exposed to sound pressure levels exceeding the occupational noise limits during an 8 hour period for adults.
Papsin encourages parents not to leave infant sleep machines on for long periods of time not only because of possible hearing loss, but because infants need stimulation from a range of sounds for proper development. Placing these machines as far away as possible and at a low volume for short amounts of time is the safest way to go.
It can be a stressful time for parents when they are trying to get their newborns to sleep, as they are sleep-deprived themselves. Be patient and stay strong, babies can’t tell daytime from night time, but slowly adjust to more reasonable sleep schedules as time goes on. For baby sleep tips to help put you and your baby at ease, click here!