Expert opinions

Ewa Misko-Wasowska

Paediatrician and a mum of two explains how does the white noise work and why newborns do not like sleeping in the silence at all

Ewa Misko-Wasowska

Crying newborn makes us feel helpless. So often we just do not know how to help, despite the best efforts. Being a doctor does not change much either. The reasons of colic or prolonged crying that is hard to soothe, are still not fully understood. We suspect immature nervous system, gastrointestinal tract or the intestinal flora but it can be many different reasons.

Some things, however, we do intuitively. Swaddling, rocking, providing dummy, breast or bottle for sucking as well as shushing sound are very much justified. They all provide  similar sensations to those that the baby has been experiencing in the womb for so many months. Not many of us know that there is an instant noise inside the human body and it is no different in the womb. It is no surprise that the infants will not feel very safe in a total silence. Steady noise and in particular white noise is one of the elements that may help to soothe the newborn and small baby.

White noise reminds baby of a blissful life in the womb, but it also "masks" other sounds of the surrounding environment that can be disturbing and wake the baby up.

One of the studies evaluating neonates has shown that 80% of babies fell asleep within five minutes in response to white noise, while only 25 % were able to fall asleep in a silence. Another study conducted at the adult population have shown that listening to white noise activates brain centers responsible for feeling pleased and rewarded. What is also interesting - it has shown that adults who have difficulties falling asleep or tend to wake up at night find white noise as beneficial as Babies do.

Therefore, let's switch on hushhhhhhhing and sleep well!

Ewa Misko-Wasowska, paediatrician
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