As a pediatric sleep coach, I’m often asked “will my child always need a white noise machine?”
I know, for a fact, there are a few, easy things parents can do to help their babies and toddlers sleep better:
- Use a white noise machine
- Keep the room dark
- Stick to wake times
But I’m often asked by parents how long their babies and toddlers will need these things.
So today, I’m answering these commonly asked questions.
Keep reading to learn why I recommend white noise machines, black out curtains, and wake times, and the surprising answer to the question above!
The Inside Scoop on White Noise
White noise machines are a nursery essential.
For newborns, these machines can mimic the sound of the womb, which can comfort and soothe your new little one.
For older babies and toddlers, a white noise machine cuts out the background noise that can often startle your little one out of a light sleep.
And I’ve found that families with multiple children love the sound machine, because their older children don’t have to be quiet little mice while the younger baby or toddler naps!
But will your child need one forever?
Will My Child Always Need a White Noise Machine?
Maybe! Maybe not.
I, for one, use a white noise machine to help me fall asleep and stay asleep!
In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recommends adults use white noise machines to fall asleep faster in this article.
So yes, your little one might prefer to use a white noise machine long after they are sleep trained.
But instead of looking at this as a negative, think about it this way: you now have a proven tool in your tool belt to help your child get the sleep they need.
And with the advent of portable sound machines (and even mobile apps!) it’s not too inconvenient to turn on a white noise machine–even while you’re on the go.
Lastly, if the idea of your child needing a sound machine to fall asleep every night for eternity seems inconvenient, ask yourself this?
Would I rather sacrifice my baby’s (and my!) sleep now in order for them not to need a sound machine later?
I’m willing to bet the answer is “no!”
The Inside Scoop on Sleep and Light
Did you know that light exposure is one of the most crucial aspects of good sleep?
Every human–your baby included–has an internal clock that is largely dictated by light and dark.
So when it’s dark, our bodies produce more melatonin (the sleep hormone), which helps us fall asleep and stay asleep.
This is why it’s difficult for most people to fall asleep with the lights on or the blinds open (during the day).
And THAT’S why I recommend parents use black out shades for naps and early bedtimes.
Because it’s much harder for your babe to fall asleep when light is streaming through their window.
Will My Child Always Need Complete Darkness to Fall Asleep?
I think this depends on the child! Some can fall asleep anywhere and everywhere, regardless of noise and light.
And some children need a dark, quiet room.
I really don’t think it’s possible to “train” children who need a dark room to sleep well in bright spaces.
And sleep is important! It’s a BIG factor when it comes to overall health.
So will your child need complete darkness forever? Maybe! But again–I think it’s worth it to consider their sleep preferences.
The Inside Scoop on Wake Times
I always advise my clients to utilize wake times in order to meet their child’s sleep needs.
Simply put, wake times are the amount of time your baby is awake between sleep sessions.
Wake times are important, because if a newborn, infant, or toddler stays awake too long between sleep sessions, they could become over tired, which means it will take longer for them to fall asleep.
It also means they will likely wake up more often at night.
Will My Child Always Have to Use Wake Times?
Again–this depends on the child. Some are very sensitive to sleep and need consistent routines well into elementary school!
Does this mean your child will never be able to skip a nap or stay up late? No!
But having a consistent bedtime, wake up time, and nap time are helpful when introducing good sleep habits.
Look at it this way: there are hands-on sleep associations (being fed or rocked to sleep, for example) and those that don’t require your intervention: white noise and dark rooms.
The associations that don’t require your continual involvement help teach your child how to sleep without you, which is the ultimate goal, right?
So instead of looking at a white noise machine and black out shades as lifelong inconveniences, consider this: with these tools, your child won’t need you to fall and stay asleep and will be much more likely to have great sleep habits well into adolescence and adulthood.
If you need more guidance when it comes to teaching your little one how to fall asleep and stay asleep without your help, reach out! I’m happy to chat with you about my sleep consulting services!