You’re hoarse from singing every lullaby known to man and have been rocking like your life depended on it, but still your baby’s no nearer sleep. A common scenario for most parents, but that’s where a white noise machine can help. A tool some families swear by, these nifty devices are designed to soothe your little one with a variety of comforting sounds, including some that will be familiar from the womb, like a heartbeat and loud whooshing, as well as typical background noises such as a whirring fan and rainfall.
If you’ve not used one before, you might be surprised at just how loud the machine needs to be for it to work, but rest assured that this won’t disturb your little one. Just as many babies find the roar of the hoover or washing cycle strangely soothing, they won’t flinch at these machines; babies are used to tolerating as much as 95dB in the womb. That’s a noise level similar to a lawnmower! While playing your white noise machine at full volume might initially be an earache for the rest of the family, the good news is that you can turn it down once baby’s dropped off.
With a variety of features from night lights to nature sounds, as well as clever functions like cry sensors and real womb recordings, here’s our pick of the bunch.
This award-winning range of white noise machines in the guise of a cuddly teddy offers a raft of convenient features. Emitting not just white, but also pink noise, which the makers suggest is an optimal combination, the myHummy also contains a sleep sensor that detects when your baby stirs, and automatically turns the machine on, reducing the need for you to get out of bed.
Alternatively, you can set it to play for 12 hours non-stop. The machine part is hidden in a pocket inside the teddy to keep out of baby’s way, and you can pop the teddy outer in the washing machine when needed.
With 20 different sounds to choose from, including six types of white noise, nature sounds like rainfall and crashing waves, and six fan sounds, there should be something for all the family here – not just the littlies.
The machine supports continuous play, or you can opt for automatic switch-off for up to seven hours, meaning you won’t be disturbed much if your baby takes to this machine.
Another advantage is that despite its compact size, the Avantek features high-resolution speakers, which make for a more comfortable listening experience.
The UK’s best-selling baby sleep aid is perhaps most unique for its use of actual recordings from the womb and a real heartbeat. Could this be the secret to its success? In addition to the white noise in utero sounds, you can soothe your baby to the tune of rainfall, a harp or a vacuum cleaner, all combined with the comforting rhythm of a resting heartbeat.
A nice touch of Ewan the Dream Sheep is his nightlight, which glows softly, again, to mimic the environment in mummy’s tummy, while the sheep’s tail loops onto things to make him suitable for travel.
One downside could be the fact he only runs for just 20 minutes before shutting down, which might not work for babies that take longer to settle.
Emitting just pink noise, the Whisbear provides continuous play for 40 minutes, as well as a cry sensor that will turn the machine on for a further 20 minutes if baby wakes.
The magnets inside the paws of the Whisbear bring his arms together into a loop, making him portable – just hang him onto the bar of the pram or car seat and you’ve got a mobile white noise machine.
A standout feature of this bear is the fact it functions as both a soother and a sensory toy – its ears and paws rustle and are made from a variety of colourful fabrics to stimulate baby.
At under £20 and with lots of useful functions, this model from Klearlook is good value for money. There are six sound settings including white noise, rainfall and a lullaby, as well as ocean, rainforest animals and a heartbeat.
There is some flexibility with the timer, which you can set for 15, 30 or 60 minutes, while another bonus of this buy is that it’s small enough to fit in your handbag, making it great for travel.
Since this not just designed for babies, you can even take advantage of the handy headphone port and enjoy some relaxation time without disturbing the rest of the family.