Infant sleep machines can be used to mask environmental noises in busy households or to provide ambient noise to soothe an infant during sleep, but they can also contribute to babies’ hearing loss.
In an April 2014 Pediatrics study, “Infant Sleep Machines and Hazardous Sound Pressure Levels,” published online March 3, the maximum noise levels of 65 sounds in 14 different infant sleep machines were tested at three distances:
- 30 centimeters (to simulate placement on a crib rail)
- 100 centimeters (simulating placement near a crib)
- 200 centimeters (to simulate placement across the room)
All 14 machines exceeded 50 dBA, the current recommended noise limit for infants in hospital nurseries, and all but one exceeded the recommended noise limit even from 200 centimeters away. The findings also determined that regular exposure to white noise through an infant sleep machine on a nightly basis can affect hearing, speech, and language development.
Even though the maximum output levels were measured in this study, the authors encourage parents to move infant sleep machines farther away than 200 centimeters and to lower the volume to protect infants’ hearing.