The womb is an intensely noisy place, from the thumping of your heart to the gurgling of your stomach. Babies come from this very noisy place into a world that — at least at night — is the very opposite. Your baby’s immature reflexive system makes him/her quite jumpy, causing your infant to wake at the sound of a dog barking or dishes being washed.
In this guide, we will discuss what a baby sound machine can do for you and your infant and then review these five products to identify the best baby sound machine:
What Is a Baby Sound Machine?
A baby sound machine is just what it sounds like — a machine that produces sound to soothe a baby to sleep. Also called white noise machines or sound conditioners, the sounds produced by baby sound machines like heartbeats and nursery melodies are often different from those made for adults. But many of the sounds, like rain or ocean waves, are the same. These sounds mask the everyday noises that may startle your infant.
What Types of Baby Sound Machines Are There?
Using an electrical outlet for power, plugin sound machines for babies are the easiest to find and least expensive to buy. They’re often the ones with the most features because they don’t have to rely on battery power that would drain quickly in a feature-rich sound conditioner. Mounted on a crib or sitting a distance away, a plugin sound machine can quickly become a regular fixture in the nursery.
Great for frequent travelers, you can soothe your baby to sleep no matter where you are with a portable sound machine. But the downside of these units is that batteries need to be changed regularly. Some newer models have solved this problem by including rechargeable batteries that can be charged via USB ports.
Huggable by day and soothing by night, stuffed animals also sometimes include sound machines. Most machines are removable so you can wash the stuffed animal without ruining the sound-maker. You can find stuffed animal sound machines in a variety of species and colors to fit your baby’s nursery and they make adorable additions to the room.
Combination sound machines do double-duty with another function. The most common second functions are nightlight or projector, alarm clock, or mobile. A nightlight or projector won’t only give your infant something to look at; you also won’t have to stumble into a totally dark room if the baby wakes!
An alarm clock can gently wake your little one to help him/her get used to the normal circadian rhythms. Finally, the mobile option is another possibility but being closer in proximity to your baby, he/she will likely reach for the objects as they move overhead.
Why Use a Baby Sound Machine?
Machines that create sound, white noise, in particular, have been studied to determine whether they’re useful for parents to use.
In a 1990 trial, twenty infants aged 2-7 days were studied while listening to white noise. 80% of those who listened to white noise fell asleep within five minutes while only 25% of those who didn’t listen to white noise fell asleep in the same amount of time (source). This study shows that white noise can help a baby go to sleep quicker and easier, something most parents — especially in the first days of their child’s life — would love to see.
Another function of a sound machine is to reduce crying and help the baby de-stress. A 2014 study on newborns found that the most effective method to reduce crying during a painful procedure (a heel prick blood draw) was to play white noise in the background. Infants who listened to white noise were the least likely to cry or act out (source). This shows us that background sounds can play a key role in calming a baby.
Finally, there’s one reason which doesn’t need scientific evidence. If your baby gets a better night’s sleep, so will you. You won’t have to constantly get up to soothe an upset infant, so you can sleep happily through the night knowing your baby is content, too.
What Questions Should You Ask About a Baby Sound Machine?
What power source does the baby sound machine use?
Many sound machines for babies run on electricity. These were once the only ones available on the market and often included the most features. But since they need an outlet to work, they’re more difficult to move from room to room or taken on a family trip.
In contrast, battery-operated baby sound machines are quite easy to move around but exchanging batteries for new ones regularly can get expensive. If your mind’s made up on getting a battery-operated one, consider buying rechargeable batteries and a charger (if it’s not already included with your sound machine).
What features does the machine have?
Baby sound machines often come with many features. One example are timers which shut off the sound after a specific period of time, thus preventing your baby from becoming dependent on the sound conditioner to stay asleep.
But note that the abrupt cut off of the white noise can often jolt the baby awake and set him/her crying and wake you in the process (then you have to reset the timer and start the sleep cycle over before your child wakes up again). But some models have an automatic shut-off, meaning it prevents you from running the machine through the night.
Another common feature is a remote control, which allows you to turn the machine on or off without entering the room, thus lowering the chance of waking up your little one. Though useful in some situations, you may not have much use for it if you plan to sleep in the same room as your infant.
What sounds does the machine play?
Baby sound machines play a wide variety of sounds, including animal noises, ambiance, or even a heartbeat. Before buying a machine, try to find a few sounds online you think your baby will like and play them as he/she goes to sleep. Note which ones your baby likes and which ones make him/her fussy. Then you’ll be able to look for a sound machine that comes close to matching the sounds your infant likes.
What does the machine look like?
The last thing to consider when shopping for a baby sound machine is its appearance. I have to say, there are some downright ugly baby sound machines. Luckily, there are some beautiful models too, including some to match different styles of nursery décor. The five models reviewed below are all good examples of some with nice appearances.
Reviews of the Best Baby Sound Machines
Skip Hop Moonlight & Melodies Nightlight Soother-Owl
A wise choice for any nursery, the Owl Baby Skip Hop Moonlight and Melodies Sound Machine is a combination sound machine that will really brighten the mood of the night. Beyond just playing four melodies and four sounds, the Owl Baby is also a nightlight and projector.
Intended for the nursery, at 6 inches and 2.5 pounds, the Owl Baby is still small enough to fit into a suitcase and brought with you on a family trip. But it doesn’t include batteries, so you’ll need an electrical outlet nearby. But considering the number of great features, the lack of a battery option isn’t a bad trade-off.
One of the neat features of the Owl Buddy is its nightlight, which has a dimmable LED light that projects from the owl’s belly. This feature would have been great when I was caring for a fussy baby! I had to stumble in the dark of the nursery every time the baby woke and this nightlight would have emitted just enough light for me to see without disturbing the little one.
Another great feature is its starry night projector, which includes a pivoting lens that turns the projection to where it’s best seen by your baby without having to turn the entire owl. Other great features include speakers in the wings of the owl, allowing for optimum sound quality, and an automatic timer that shuts off the sound after 15, 30, 60 minutes, or not at all. Mix and match the sounds and light options for a good night’s sleep for you and your baby.
- Useful dimmable nightlight and projector
- Great sound options with nice variety
- Adorable design
- No battery option
- Some sounds are a bit “harsh” sounding
Baby Shusher Sound Machine
Does shushing your baby seem to calm him/her? It works for many babies and that’s what the creators had in mind when they designed the Baby Shusher Sound Machine. To a baby, shushing is like white noise, which, as noted, is proven to calm babies and help give them peaceful sleep. A bit hypnotic on babies, older children, and adults alike, the Baby Shusher mimics the sounds of the rushing blood flow and muffled environmental noises of the womb.
Small and portable, the Baby Shusher is designed to go with you anywhere you’d like. It runs on batteries and while an AC adapter would have been nice, it’s not a big deal as it comes with an automatic timer which sets to either 15 or 30 minutes, thus saving battery life. There’s really no reason to run the Baby Shusher all night since its purpose is to get the little one to sleep, not keep him/her there.
Another useful feature is its attached wrist strap, which can come in handy if you’re on the go and don’t want to risk losing the Baby Shusher somewhere.
The sound machine’s surface is smooth and easy to clean with a damp cloth. It also comes with a one-year warranty against material and workmanship defects. While the Baby Shusher does lack some of the features of other models, it’s still a great little machine that does what it’s supposed to do: calm a fussy infant.
- Effective; Does the job well
- Good for travel
- Handy wrist strap
- No AC adapter
- No continuous sound option
- Abrupt cut off of sound
- Difficult to use one-handed
Sleep Sheep Cloud B Soother Sound Machine
Cuddly and cute, the Sleep Sheep On-the-Go Soother Sound Machine by Cloud B is a great companion for your baby’s trips to dreamland or just to the grocery store. Playing four sounds — Gentle Stream, Spring Showers, Ocean Waves, and Harmonious Whales — the Sleep Sheep will lull your little one into a restful sleep.
Designed with on-the-go parents in mind, this stuffed animal sound machine comes with an attached Velcro strap perfect for fastening to a car seat or stroller. Easy for anyone to use, the Sleep Sheep has four push buttons for the different sounds and a volume control. An added feature is an automatic timer, which turns the sound off after 23 or 45 minutes to save battery life and for extra convenience.
Just the right size, the Sleep Sheep On-the-Go Sound Machine stands 8 inches tall. This makes it easy for little ones to hold on tight. Included are two AA batteries but, as mentioned, you’ll save more money in the long run by buying rechargeable batteries and a charger. To wash, simply remove the sound box and wipe with soap and water.
The Sleep Sheep On-the-Go Soother Sound Machine is the winner of several awards in its industry, including the iParenting Media Award. From its fluffy design to its tranquil music, this stuffed animal sound machine may be just what your baby needs for a restful sleep.
- Good for travel
- Easy to wash
- No AC option
- No continuous sound option
- Abrupt cut off of sound
Baby Neptune and his underwater pals have gathered together to ease your baby into a restful night’s sleep. The Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother Sound Machine is a wonderful combination sound machine with real-life imagery and classical music or ocean wave sound.
The machine is a little too big to pack into a suitcase so it’s best to keep it at home. Your toddler will likely get a lot of use out of it there!
It comes with a cute remote designed in the shape of a starfish which you can use to reset the machine’s images and sounds without reentering your baby’s room. Attachable to the crib via an adjustable buckle, the Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother Sound Machine is also great for bedside use.
This sound machine is quite feature-rich and batteries drain quickly. Thus, it’s best to use its AC adapter instead. Among its main features is a cast of underwater characters that project on the wall as they dance to the music and light show. An automatic 25-minute timer turns off the images and sounds, but not before fading slowly from sight and hearing. This unique feature will help your baby slowly drift off to the land of Nod.
- Lights and sounds wind down slowly and smoothly
- Useful nightlight feature
- Neat underwater lighting effect
- Poor battery life (due to being feature-rich)
- Not intended for travel
An inexpensive option for parents looking for a sound machine to use in both a nursery and on family trips, the myBaby Spa Portable Sound Machine plays gentle sounds that will soothe your baby right to sleep. You have six high-quality sounds to choose from — White Noise, Heartbeat, Ocean, Summer Night, Thunder, and Brook — and a volume control which can drown out even loud city traffic!
Made portable enough to go on family trips, the myBaby Spa Portable Sound Machine is just 6x7x2 inches and weighs 8 pounds. While at home or in a hotel, use the outlet adapter to play your baby’s favorite sound. Then, while in transit, you can switch to battery mode. This sound machine runs on four AA batteries, which are included.
One useful feature is its timer, which allows you to set the sound to go off after 15, 30, 60 minutes, or not at all. This is a handy way to save battery life while on the go while allowing the machine to run non-stop when plugged into the wall outlet.
Overall, this is a very nice unit at an affordable price. Place this machine near your baby’s crib and you will likely never have to worry about your baby’s sleep again.
- Great sounds
- Good for travel
- Both AC and battery operated
- Short sound loops
- Cord frays easily
- Volume a bit low even on highest setting
Which Baby Sound Machine Is Right for You?
The sound machine is a great little addition to any nursery as it helps calm a baby down and help him/her drift off to sleep. The five reviewed sound machines are all great examples of what’s available on the market. Of these, the best baby sound machine is the Owl Baby Skip Hop Moonlight and Melodies Sound Machine.
While it doesn’t run on batteries, the Owl Baby is small enough to easily fit into a suitcase for family trips. With a 15, 30, or 60-minute optional timer, you have the best of both worlds as you can choose whether to use it.
This sound machine also has the widest variety of sounds and music available (four songs and four sounds). And the reasonable price, extra features, and adorable owl shape make it a great addition to any nursery.
Now Over to You!
What are your thoughts about baby sound machines? Leave your comments below!