When children have difficulty falling asleep, sometimes parents are recommended to try white noise machines to help soothe the children asleep.
A recent study showed that at the maximum volume, that 13 of the 14 most popular white noise machines brands were dangerous for the hearing of infants even at 6.5 feet distance (2 meters). Researchers remind parents that the structure of the baby's ear is different from an adult's ear, and their ear canal is straighter and wider, which amplifies sound.
This increases the likelihood that certain frequencies, like the ones created by these machines, could damage hearing. Researchers also commented that many infants and young children are just as soothed by parents singing a lullaby or reading them a book.
I often recommend reading a short book, no more than 10 minutes long, to children before sleep. Research has shown that reading books to children is important for both cognitive and speech development, so it is established it is safe and beneficial!
Children learn that a short reading session is part of their bedtime routine, and they learn to relax and be soothed by their parents' reading. While we cannot be sure the exact effects these white noise machines have on the infant ear, there are other activities that we know can help aid sleep in a consistent, bedtime routine.