Blocking Noise for Sleep

Parent Q&A

How Can I Deal With Hum of Ceiling Fan From Downstairs May 13, 2018 (6 responses below)
Do certain sounds help your baby sleep? Mar 23, 2017 (11 responses below)
  • We just moved into a new place and one of the bedrooms is directly over a bedroom downstairs. That neighbor is super super nice and welcoming but she runs her ceiling fan all the time because her unit doesn't have great ventilation. I'e been to her apartment and the ceiling fan is silent for her. However, from the bedroom upstairs, it's a low hum that's just audible enough to be annoying and make us have trouble sleeping.

    Her fan is not wobbling or old or anything that shows it needs to be replaced, and it is totally silent in her unit so I don't think the landlord would replace it anyway. And it really is just a *little* too audible for me, not too bad. It's probably the particular frequency (or something) of the vibrations.

    So I'm NOT looking for advice on getting her to replace it! But how can I deal? White noise machines annoy me a little too but maybe that's better? Any ideas?'


    I know how annoying this can be!  Wondering if you have a nice thick carpet in your bedroom?  Maybe with a thick pad underneath.  Good luck..

    You say you just moved in. As a native New Yorker who didn't "hear" the constant, often quite loud street and neighbor sounds when I lived there, I would guess that within a week or two you will simply get used to and won't "hear" it either... Give your brain a chance to adjust, anyway. After a few weeks, if you are still bothered, consider earplugs. There are some very comfy ones on the market designed for airplanes and I bet they would work for your situation as well.

    I use a noise maker to drown out noises at night. Yes the noise maker makes noise but it is “white noise” and the rhythm is regular. The best one is by marpac. I also recently got a blue air air purifier after the northern fires. It clears my air and gives a very pleasant hum. 

  • Do certain sounds help your baby sleep?

    (11 replies)

    I am having my first baby in July and trying to do some research on good sleep routines that will help her in a noisy household (we have two dogs). I've seen research that suggests that some form of white noise helps babies for the first year. Do you think a site like this would be good?

    What kinds of noises do you think are the most soothing for babies? Are there any other websites or playlists you use for your baby? 

    I wouldn't buy anything in advance. Many babies sleep fine despite a noisy environment. We lived 100 feet from the Bart tracks and had a dog and our baby mostly slept like a rock.

    Admittedly, my husband and I were both sound sleepers as children, and perhaps our daughter inherited this tendency, but she could sleep through anything, including noisy restaurants. I remember reading that, in fact, many babies find background noise rather soothing, perhaps evidence that life continues and they haven't been left all alone. Whatever sleep routine you choose (or whether you just wing it), I don't think noise-versus-quiet will necessarily play a part. Have the best possible labor and delivery, and enjoy your little girl.

    We used the Homemedics Sound Spa white-noise machine for our first baby, which is great. It's $20 on Amazon and has 6 options, all of which are nice (I like the ocean, rain, and summer night ones the best), and realistic-sounding. What I like best about it is that it doesn't auto-shut off. I find that for babies, anything that shuts off after, say, 20 minutes causes them to wake up! This can run all night.

    If you do go the white-noise machine route, be sure to wean the baby off of it at some point... I know some older kids (and adults!) who are still totally dependent on their white noise and have to travel with a machine, or use their phone w/ an app open next to their heads... it's silly.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


White noise machine so older child isn't disturbed by baby?

Nov 2010

Hi - I'm looking online and I only see white noise makers that play in intervals. I'm looking for something that can play continuously all night. Does anyone know if this product exists? If so, can you recommend which one you are using? I'd like my daughter to use this as we are expecting and don't want the new baby waking her up in the middle of the night. MH

Here's an inexpensive option that meets your requirements--I'd recommend getting an old radio and tuning it to the white noise between two stations. We used this with our older son and it really worked. Lisa

We love our white noise machine, the Marpac SleepMate. It plays continuously the whole night, and our kids sleep great. You can find it on It is a bit pricey compared to other machines, but we think it's well worth it. Monica

You could use an ipod hooked to simple speakers (like the separate pairs you hook up to computers) and then download something from itunes like soft rain, ocean sounds, etc. and set the Ipod to keep looping through your playlist. This way, if you don't quite like how it sounds, all you have to change is the playlist. occasional insomniac

We have two of the Homedics Soundspa Lullaby machines, which we use as a white noise machine. They sell them at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, though the employees never know what you're talking about when you're asking for the white noise machine. You kind of just have to stumble on one in the store or you can just get one through Amazon.

The white noise options include rain, heartbeat, and ocean. You can also select twinkle twinkle and rock-a-bye-baby if you want to make yourself go insane.

The machines also have little projection options that have a jungle, ocean, and one other theme I can't remember now. Those work as a night-light and rotate in a big circle on the ceiling.

After two years both machines still work, though the projections on both no longer rotate, though they do still light up. Leah

For white noise at night, I use a boom box with a 'rain & peepers' nature CD, and I set it on 'repeat all.' It plays all night, with a gap of only a few seconds between plays. It's called Midnight Rainshower - A Week in Hawaii, part of the Atmosphere Collection. It does a great job of drowning out any noise that doesn't have much bass to it. Thea

We never had a special white noise machine, just a regular radio/CD player. 2 things that worked: keeping the radio on a static station at low volume all night, and buying a white noise/nature sounds CD (there are lot of those available online) and putting it on repeat so that it played all night. sleeping better now

We use an ipod shuffle that we had around and were not using much. We then bought 1 track - Pacific Ocean - from iTunes and put the shuffle on repeat song - all night. We have a little player for the ipod which works out great for this purpose. He's been sleeping though the night since we started using this - about 5 months old to current (12 months). Beats buying another device and when we travel the 'noise' is already on it plus more Hope that helps! scoles

I HIGHLY recommend the Marpac Sound machines. My FIL has used one for 20+ years and when our daughter was born, he bought one for us. She used it for 2 years and now our son has it in his room. You can adjust the volume and tone (higher and lower pitches) of the noise to mask noises outside of the room. It is a very steady white noise. We have brought it with us on multiple trips and haven't spent a night without it on for 3 + years - it is great! Mary

Soundproofing baby's room

Aug 2010

I have a room that I'd like to soundproof so outside noises won't wake my 7 week old baby. Specifically, I have a door leading to a hallway of 2 other doors...when my neighbors slam their doors, the sound travels through our door and creates a loud thud. In addition, the floorboard above the baby's room makes creaking sounds and we can hear footsteps upstairs, which also startles the baby. I'm thinking the insulation isn't quite there and the floorboard needs some nailing down upstairs? I'd like to soundproof the door and the ceiling of the baby's room if at all possible, but am not sure how to go about doing so (i.e. the best and most economical solution). My husband and I don't have a lot of handyman skills either...should I start by consulting a contractor or specialist? Are there quick and easy fixes that I can purchase from hardware stores and do it myself instead? We have permission to make changes to the door, ceiling, and the flooring upstairs. Any advice, recommendation, or referral is much appreciated. Thanks!

I know it might not seem this way right now, but I think the best thing for your baby (and you!) in the long run might be to not soundproof so s/he learns to sleep through the noise. A kid who can sleep anywhere is a great asset -- think of the times you'll be in hotels, have friends over, etc. and not want to be tip-toeing around. Just something to think about. Mom of 2 Good Sleepers

This isn't quite what you asked for, but I wonder if you've considered it? We live very close to the houses next to us, and have had issues like barking dogs, loud music, parties and so forth. So I understand where you're coming from. My son and my husband are sound sleepers, but I am not. Noise bothers me a whole lot. And the thing that has helped me more than anything has been, not soundproofing, but white noise. I actually just use an air filter (hey, two benefits for the price of one!), and keep it on all night. It blocks out almost everything, and I fall asleep and stay asleep much better. Anyway, something you might consider. Karen

Don't do it!! Your baby will adapt to sleeping through sounds. If you soundproof the room s/he won't develop the ability (that we all need) of being able to sleep through some level of disruption. Some humans sleep less deeply than others, but designing a disruption-free environment will make it harder, not easier, for your child in the future. Babies are adaptable

Maybe you shouldn't worry about are tremendous sleepers (my kids can sleep through pretty much any alarm clock...not particularly useful when directed at them). I've never inoculated my children with sound machines or music and they do fine. jan

Instead of soundproofing, you might want to go with adding white noise to the baby's room. There are gadgets you can get that do exactly that. White noise rocks!

Your baby will stop startling when he/she gets old enough. For now if you swaddle your baby these noises won't wake her/him up. I encourage you to not train your baby to sleep only in silence because it will make traveling and visiting friends much harder because your child really won't be able to sleep unless it's silent. Letting your baby figure out that external noise is normal while sleeping will help him/her to sleep better as they get older especially when the environment changes and there are other ambient noises. --glad my kid can sleep with some noise

When our daughter was an infant, I nursed her to sleep she slept in our bedroom which was a little room next to the kitchen. We lived on Hearst street which is a rather noisy street. And although we put on some classical or gentle music on the stereo, we were not especially quiet often talking and rattling pots in the kitchen as we cooked or washed up etc. The result of this is that our daughter got used to sleeping in a noisy environment. The same was true for her brother, six years later when he came along. Now, with a child of her own, her child (my granddaughter) also sleeps very well in a little room off the kitchen, a noisy environment. Think of it this way: when you were pregnant you were not in a totally quiet environment whenever your baby was asleep. So, why worry about soundproofing her environment now. At seven weeks babies may occasionally be wakeful for various reasons. They may be teething or having some little digestive disturbance. Learning to sleep through an amount of noise, will be helpful to her in her life since most of the places she'll be sleeping in will not be soundproof ones.

Using a white noise machine to drown out snoring

Jan 2009

I remember reading in BPN something about snoring and white noise machines. Some spouses had used the machines to good effect. I could not find this information again, but am interested. My question: Is it better to use the ''swishing air'' type machines, or the ones that make nature sounds. I'm thinking the former, if it is to drown out the snoring, but find the idea of nature sounds more appealing. I would appreciate any recommendations. Sleepy

Our white noise machine does them all, so test them out. I find the birds and water delightful if you want background noise during the day while you're doing something else but it's distracting/annoying for me when trying to sleep - it's really a loop of sounds and you pick up on the loop. The birds in particular get obnoxious if they are too loud and we've really taken a liking to it and play it rather loud (we use it to prevent out kids from waking each other up). Google ''Conair Sound Therapy''. Worth every penny. Shhhh

I recommend just using a loud fan, or a white noise machine that has a fan-like noise (if you really don't want a fan). Someone got me a white noise machine with nature sounds, and initially they seemed really nice, but they are irritating after a while because they are loops, and they wont cover up snoring. Elisabeth

Using white noise machine with baby - when to stop?

Feb 2007

Living in SF, we had quite a bit of ''urban'' noise - i.e., street noise. We used a white noise machine (ocean waves specifically) with our baby. He's now almost 1 year old, and we no longer live in such an urban setting. My husband thinks we have to stop the white noise machine, so he's not addicted. Our pediatrician at his 9 mos. visit seemed to think using a white noise machine indefinitely was not a problem. Thoughts? anon

Stop when your child says he wants it off. I found it very funny that your husband says he's afraid he'll become addicted to it. What does that mean? I've never heard of a ''white noise junkie.'' My son has had the same music & moving light for six years - he loves it and now so does his two year old brother. They both go to sleep quickly, sleep well and stay that way all night. I think this is in part to the safety, similarity & security that they feel in the comfort of their own room with sounds & sights they are used to. What could be wrong with that??? -Let's see what other BPN-ers think...

I can't see how using a white noise machine can be ''addicting''. Many adults use one, and I think it definitely can help with a more restful sleep. I've used one with my 2yo daughter since she was born; we take it with us when we travel and it helps her settle down to naps and bedtime in strange places with strange noises. But she doesn't need it to get to sleep - it's just part of her familiar routine like a bath and a story. The only negative aspect I could imagine is that it does mask the normal household evening noises to some extent, so it a baby wouldn't ''get used'' to the noises so that they can sleep through them. But I'm not so sure of this - I think some light sleepers will wake up to noise regardless of how conditioned they are, and some babies will just sleep through anything. Fan of white noise

Our daughter also listened to ocean waves all night long and during naps. It was a cue for her to know it was time for sleeping. It was great at blocking out household noises and was comforting to her. My husband and I often joked that she would be dependent on the waves forever and what would her college roommate think? Well, right around her third birthday she told me out of the blue ''I don't want my waves anymore.'' And that was that. I don't know what triggered her choice. It was shortly after she had moved into a big girl bed, so maybe it was related. Amy

I personally feel that it is to your child's great advantage that he learn to sleep with noise (real noise - not white noise). We live in such an incredibly noisy environment generally that learning to sleep with noise makes for an easier life. anon

Don't stop! Why rock the boat if it helps your child sleep better? We have one in each of our children's rooms. We even have a spare one that we take w/ us when we travel. White Noise Fan

My husband uses white noise. His theory is that he got used to it when he was born premature and spent a few months among machines. He grew up in the country and still used white noise through childhood (can you imagine choosing the sound of a fan over the sound of crickets or rain?) As his wife I've gotten used to it and I only turn it off when there is rain to hear. On the rare occasion when we are away from home without white noise, He doesn't seem to have trouble sleeping - he says that's only been true recently since he turned 30. I wouldn't worry about it one way or another but if you really want to wean then just turn the volume down very gradually. anon

White noise machine for toddler's bedroom

Feb. 2004

I need a white noise machine (or ''sound conditioner'') for my toddler's bedroom and I'm wondering if anyone can recommend one and tell me where to get it. I'd prefer one with ocean noises and that sort of thing, but I wouldn't mind just a basic machine (I'm not sure how much they cost). I've tried static on the radio, but it's too inconsistent and harsh, and I don't have a portable CD player, so I can't use a CD. Ellen

Hi -- We use the HoMedics SoundSpa Acoustic Relaxation Machine (a big title for a simple sound machine), which is advertised for $12.99 at It sounds a little electronic, but it has a number of sounds, including a heartbeat. We have turned on the ocean waves sound whenever we put our daughter to sleep (or back to sleep in the middle of the night) since she was about 9 months old (she's now 22 months), and I think it relaxes her and drowns out ambient noise that might distract her. Best of luck

Ellen, The sound machine I use is from HoMedics, and it works great. It has six different sound settings, from waterfalls, to spring rains, to white noise. I just found them on ebay for as little as $16; normally I think they're about $35. The really nice ones from Hammacher and Schlemmer are around $65, but only have white noise. Good luck and Happy Sleeping! Chris

I have one from Target that was only about $10 and is great. It shuts off automatically if you want and has about 6 sounds (including ocean, rain and crickets) and uses very little battery power. It's also small. It puts my toddler (and the rest of us) fast asleep in no time. I think it is Target's own brand and came in a small red box. I had one from Sharper Image that was expensive ($50+), sucked batteries dry weekly and broke in a matter of months. The sound quality was better than Target but it wasn't worth the extra $$. Nic

They have very nice ones at the Sharper Image called ''Sound Soother''. I think they run about $100 though. You could probably try e-bay for a used one. Star

One in-home child care provider used a fan, plain and simple. The kids always slept really well. I don't know what a white noise machine is exactly, but a fan is useful in hot weather too. mom of light sleeper

I have one I've used for myself for years. It has a variety of sounds (I prefer ''summer nights'' with chirping crickets)and has never broken. Conair is the manufacturer and I purchased it at Walgreens. anon

We bought a white noise machine (the Homedics Sound Spa) for our baby at Target about a year ago and now none of us can sleep without it! It cost about $15 and has about 6 different sound options (summer night, white noise, river, etc). Check Sound Sleeper

I bought a white noise machine at Rockridge Kids. I don't remember the brand name, but it was the only one that they carried at the time, which was maybe two years ago. It has ocean wave sounds as well as several others, but we only ever use that one. It helps drown out other noise very well.

The Sharper Image sells these (they run around $100) in their store--they are called ''sound soothers''. They have a web-site if you can't make it into a retail outlet: Sarah

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Blocking noise so baby can sleep

Nov 2005

Has anyone tried any of the white noise machines on the market? What were the pros and cons? What's a good one and where can it be purchased? Right now the baby uses a loud ceiling fan. However, as it gets cooler we're not going to want that air blowing around. thanks! karlyn

We never did go in for one of the machines, but what worked pretty well for us was to put a radio in the baby's room and set it on a non-station (i.e., static), at pretty high volume. There are also white-noise CDs you can buy. ssshhhhhh ....

I did not actually buy it, but I remember seeing one at Target. It had several different ''noises'' (ocean, rain, white noise) and it was under $20. They also have a similar CD there if you have a CD player. anon

We've been using our Sleepmate white noise machine in our son's room for the past 3 years. It's great. Debbie

We have a '' HoMedics - EnviraScape Sound Spa, Model # SS-200. It works wonders. Our daughter loves the sound of water and we used to run water to sooth her (not a good idea). This machine has six different sounds: heartbeat, mountain streams. ocean waves, white noise, summer nights and spring rain. \x93Mountain streams\x94 does the trick for her. It can be plugged or battery operated. It has volume control and a timer. We got it at target. I cannot remember the price exactly but it is between $15 and $20. Julie

We've ordered two from Hammacher Schlemmer ( and they've worked for many years. Our daughter has dropped one of them a few times and it still works no prob.

Jan. 2003

I am looking for some type of product that will create ''white noise'' in my baby's room in hopes to block out noise and help her sleep. We bought a warm mist humidifier; it makes a humming noise and that works great, but I don't like to leave it on throughout the night for safety reasons. I was thinking about buying an air purifier for this purpose. Would appreciate any ideas of what you use.

I'm not sure if Costco still has it, but a few months ago they were selling a ''nature sounds'' clock radio, about $70. Or how about just tuning a radio to some static? J12

In regards to the white noise rec.: You can create a white-noise generator using a radio set to static. My husband and I live on a busy street, and found this to work better than any commercial sound machines. Ideally, use a radio with tone controls, and turn the treble down and the bass up. Set the radio to static; we tune to the bottom of the FM dial. The low frequency white noise is great for masking traffic and other engine type noise (lawnmowers, etc). jessica

I know you can buy white noise makers that imitate noise in the womb (just do an online search) but what I have found to work is putting on the radio, and turning the dial all the way to the left and letting the static be the white noise. I suppose you don't have to turn the dial all the way to the left, but I have found that static to be more consistent (!). Hilary

When this was an issue for us, we always used an electric fan, the large kind that fits in a window. You can get them cheaply at places like Longs Drugs. You can get white noise machines, very expensive, at places like the Leading Edge, but the one I tried out wasn't loud enough to block out much. You can also get white noise CDs -- I got a really good one (''Gentle Breeze'') by ordering from this site: Hannah

Hi there, Try the white noise sounds and soother from Sharper Image. It was given to me by a friend at a baby shower and was truly the best gift I was ever given! I do think it is rather pricey though, but I feel it would be worth the money. We have used it since birth for our daughter and she is now 13 months old and we continue to use it. It has various settings such as heartbeat ( for newborns )and our favorite is the brook .or rain setting. It lulls her to sleep and drowns out any outside noise as is our house is rather small. It is also portable and we bring it on any trips we have and it provides a somewhat familiar atmosphere for our daughter when we are in a foreign setting......... Good luck! Julie

Instead of buying ''products'' I think it's much easier just to buy CDs with the kind of sounds you're looking for. Get a small, portable (and cheap) cd/casset player for your kid's room and it will much more useful as you can play fun sing-a-long music during the day, stories, etc. and then soothing sounds at night such as rain and ocean sound recordings. I think I've even seen them at Target at one of those displays where you can hear selections before you buy the CD. I was also just reading about a CD called ''For Crying Out Loud.'' It has recordings of blow dryers, vacum cleaners, rain, and other noises that work to soothe babies. Someone told me you might be able to get it at Toys R Us or Rockridge Kids. A mother in my Mom's group said her husband burned a CD of the blow dryer that they play over and over for their baby. When we want to have something going for longer than the length of the CD (you mention having something go all night) we turn on the radio and find some static, which also does the trick. anon

We bought one of those things that has a selection of sounds - white noise, ocean, brook, rain forest, etc. - even a heartbeat sound. I think we got it at Sharper Image, so it probably wasn't cheap, but it was great! We used it every night and for naps. You can play it continuously or on a timer. Our daughter was very colicky and we went through hell trying to get her (and us) to sleep. I can't swear that this was the answer, but we believe it helped - and it was relaxing for us to hear as well. We also took it with us when we went away, and think it helped when she had to sleep in a strange place. Now that she's older, we play familiar lullabyes for the same purpose instead of the white noise, but we haven't gotten rid of it, because younever know when you may want to listen to the sounds of the waves! A cheaper answer: Tape record the sound of a hairdryer or vaccuum. Stephanie

Instead of a humidifier or air purifier, you may want to consider a product designed specifically to create white noise. There are several such commercial products (Sharper Image, Brookstone...) and even some specifically for babies (I think it's Fisher Price that makes an aquarium white noise machine for cribs). We got ours cheap by buying it on Ebay. As an alternative, I've heard of people making their own audiotapes of things like vacuum cleaners, fans, refrigerators, etc. and playing them at bedtime. anon

For my daughter, who is now three, we use this wave sounds cd, which we found at target. There is no synthesizing or other weird sounds, just waves - it's actually quite pleasant, but prepare yourself for possible dependancy on this technique. My daughter can't really sleep through the night with out her waves going, but, it does work like a charm. The only one we've found that's just pure waves is at target in their little life sounds section. good luck! jen

In desperation one night I used our popcorn popper (the hot air variety). It worked like a charm!!

We bought a white noise machine from It works very well. It just makes a whooshing sound which you can adjust. Debbie

A recording of ocean waves (mine has gulls in the background as well) makes for very soothing white noise. Melanie

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