Sleep Training: Does White Noise Really Help Children Sleep? - Sunday Hug

Sleep Training: Does White Noise Really Help Children Sleep?

Question of the Day

I heard that white noise helps children sleep, so I downloaded the app. Does loud crackling like this really help a child sleep? I am worried that my child may develop hearing problems. It's like the noise of a construction site, and it's so embarrassing.

Parents who encounter white noise for the first time are often surprised. You will encounter noises that sound like those produced by objects such as vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, or the chirping sound of a radio. It's a far cry from a soft lullaby, but can this noise help your child sleep?

What is White Noise?

First, let's look at the definition of white noise.

'White noise' refers to noise in which sounds with different frequencies are mixed with the same intensity within a certain spectrum. According to a study by the Korean Society of Industrial Psychology, white noise improved concentration by 47.6%, and improved memory and memory by 9.6%. It was said that there was also a stress reduction effect of 27.1%.

Some people prefer to study in a cafe rather than a quiet library. This is because the sound of these people talking in a cafe feels like white noise. In a person's brain waves, alpha waves increase when they are in a stable state, and beta waves increase when they are anxious.


When listening to white noise, alpha waves increased and beta waves decreased in most people. It has been proven to be effective in reducing stress and calming the mind. The best effect of white noise is that it makes life’s noise inaudible.

Let's look back at a situation where we were startled by a noise. Most of the time, it’s because of an unexpected loud noise from somewhere. For example, if your baby is taking a nap and suddenly the doorbell rings or you hear loud singing outside, the baby can wake up and cry.

When white noise is turned on, it is difficult to hear a sudden change in sound. Even when the doorbell suddenly sounds, the sound is buried in the white noise.

Does white noise cause hearing problems?

However, it is difficult to define precisely how much white noise should be played continuously for several hours in order to keep your child’s hearing safe. This is because each child has a different sensitivity to sound and different reactions to various noisy situations.

There is also research showing that if you leave a white noise machine next to your baby and they then listen to loud sounds of white noise for a long time, it can damage their auditory nerve cells and adversely affect the development of speech and emotion. Therefore, experts advise that when playing white noise to a baby, you must keep a distance of 30cm or more between your baby and the source of the sound and set the volume to 50dB or less.

crying baby

Noise causes hearing damage in proportion to its magnitude and duration of exposure. If the sound is quiet, listening to it for a long time will not cause harm to your ears. If you turn on white noise too loud and it reaches your child's ears, your child might cry and have a hard time, and it could cause problems later. However, most of the white noise used to put a child to sleep will not be that loud. Do not worry too much.

Tip: If your baby finds it particularly difficult to nap during the night compared to sleeping at night, we recommend that you actively use white noise. During the day, there are many noises in life that can cause a child to wake up startled. Blackout curtains and white noise help keep the child calm.

White noise is like the sound a fetus hears.

Another strength of white noise is that it is similar to the sounds babies hear in the womb. When our children were fetuses, they heard various sounds from inside their mother's womb. It is said that the sound that the baby hears inside the mother's womb is similar to the sound of a vacuum cleaner or a hair dryer.

So, when putting a newborn baby to sleep, white noise is a big help. If you wrap your child in a stable manner with swaddling, etc. and play white noise, your child will feel as if they are in the womb and find a sense of stability.

baby being swaddled

Are you still wondering if you can use white noise? If your baby falls asleep comfortably through the white noise and continues to sleep deeply, it may be effective. However, since each baby has different temperaments and characteristics, some children are bothered by white noise. It's good to experiment to find the way of using white noise that is right for your baby.

Tip: Through a smartphone application, you can try out various types of white noise. For some babies, the sound of their parent’s 'shhhh' sound is preferred. These babies might enjoy listening to the recorded voice of the caregiver.

Author: Eun-Kyung Beom, Pediatrician
- Baby Sleep Education Expert
- Director of Baby Sleep Research Institute
- Formerly Director of Gwangju Central Children's Hospital