Q&A: Is pink, white or brown noise best for baby?

Posted in All, Babies, Safe Sleep Spaces and tagged , .

White, brown, pink …  you might be tricked into thinking that we’re describing Neapolitan ice cream, but we’re actually talking about various types of noise.

All thoughts about delicious desserts aside, our topic today is the different kinds of baby noise machines available and how to choose which is best for your baby. Surprisingly, not all white noise is created equal, so before you choose your flavour, you might like to consider the other colours on the spectrum.

Now, sssssshhhhh. Let’s put on our science hats and learn about the different kinds of noise machines.

What’s the deal with white noise?

White noise is a common term used to describe non-descript background noise. It varies from things akin to static, heartbeat sounds, right through to rain sounds, waterfalls, whale songs. Or like the things you might hear in meditation at your yoga class.

The main purpose of white noise is to drown out other sounds. Firstly, the theory is that white noise not only drowns out other potentially disturbing sounds. Secondly, it can mimic the sounds they hear in the womb, forming a positive sleep association for your baby. They hear the sound, they know that means sleep.

To define genuine white noise you have to know that this particular sound is always man-made. The particular tone of white noise is made by generating a number of different sound frequencies together to produce the static hum you hear.

What’s pink noise then?

A useful way to think of pink noise is to consider it as white noise’s more natural counterpart. Rather than the combination of frequencies used to form white noise, pink noise runs on one frequency only. This frequency is designed to closely mimic natural sounds, like waterfalls or light rainfall.

The deeper sound of pink noise is designed to promote a more sound, restorative sleep.

By comparison to white noise, pink noise is a relative newcomer to the market, and the jury is still out. Initial studies suggest an increase in deeper sleep and a subsequent memory boost.

And what about brown noise?

Brown noise is the really deep voice of the group. Considered to be a rougher sound, it is more comparable to rolling surf, or a rushing river.

You’re very unlikely to come across brown noise in any baby sleep aid. In contrast, brown noise is considered useful for focussing on tasks, and general relaxation.

Which one is best for babies?

Ultimately, whichever one you choose is OK. And if you don’t want a separate machine, or just prefer to use your phone, there are white noise apps, YouTube and Spotify playlists with plenty of options to try.

Some babies don’t even like white noise! It’s all about trial and error.

When it comes down to putting baby to sleep, just make sure you don’t have anything playing too loudly close to your little one’s sensitive ears. Safe Sleep Space recommends nothing louder than 50 decibels, and preferably, no closer to your baby than two metres.

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