Monday, May 18, 2009

White noise for less puts baby to sleep

In this week’s baby bargainista column, Jenny shares how she found a white noise solution to lull her newborn to sleep without breaking the bank.

It’s midnight. You’re exhausted and dying to go to sleep – but your wee infant is (a) awake and ready to party, or (b) awake and screaming. All the usual methods of soothing the tiny baby – shushing, rocking, swinging, bouncing – have failed and you are desperate for a solution!

Does this scenario sound familiar? If you’re a parent, most likely yes. We recently went through a bout of sleepless nights with our youngest (she was about 8 weeks old at the time). After running through the list of what could be keeping her awake and fussy long past her usual bedtime (Was she hungry? Gassy? Needing a new diaper?) we were stumped.

Enter the Internet! We got online and connected with other parents to seek out a solution. A number of moms recommended a white noise machine – apparently white noise or static mimics the sounds baby hears in utero (similar to the familiar strategy of driving a fussy baby around the block – the quiet drone of the car’s engine coupled with gentle movement has been known to soothe baby).

However, we balked at spending upwards of $50 on a machine designed to create what was, essentially, static. Surely we could improvise something cheaper!

Luckily, from past experience we had a couple of tricks up our sleeves:

1. Running water can be very soothing – but once we filled the kitchen sink to our normal dishwashing level, if she was still awake we didn’t want to keep wasting a precious resource by running it constantly.

2. We unearthed a few Solitudes CDs from when our oldest was having difficulty settling, and the soothing sounds of new age music combined with waterfalls, rushing rivers, and babbling brooks worked like a charm – for a while. Then the problem became, what to do when the CD was over and the sound of silence woke her up again?

3. In the old days, we used to tune our radio receiver to a spot between stations. The static simulated the sound of rushing water quite nicely. However, what to do in these days of satellite radio?

Then we found This sanity-saving website offers free static or white noise, and the sound was close enough to the sound of running water to keep Girl #2 soothed. A well-placed laptop plugged in near her crib or bassinet was enough to keep her sleeping through. A fantastic freebie for frazzled parents!

What’s your go-to solution for soothing a fussy baby to sleep?

photo credit: Our Angel is Now Home by Ivan Makarov on flickr.
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  1. I love this idea. We found that putting a fan on at low worked as well when our boys were infants(although it could get chilly in the winter). I also like to sleep with white noise so I'm going to use this website the next time I'm in a hotel room, or other strange place.

  2. Ooh, I never tried a fan - great idea! Thanks for your comment Louise!

  3. I like falling asleep with the TV on with the volume turned down low. I used to have an infant music box for my boys. When they'd wake up, a soft light would turn on and a quiet lullaby would play. It seemed to work well at the time.

  4. We loved the white noise. We burned a CD from clips found for free in the internet and ran it on repeat all night. We used it until she was about 2 years old. It really helped bringing it with us when we travelled, as it gave her something familiar to help her sleep and feel comfortable.
    We are huge fans of the "happiest baby on the block" method of Dr Harvey Karp, it really helped our daughter.

  5. iTunes offers an app called White Noise Lite. It's free for those of you with an iPhone or iPod Touch (equipped with a built-in speaker so you don't need to put ear buds on baby). Hat tip to @dbarefoot


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