I used to be a ‘bad sleeper’. That is, before kids. After kids, sleep definitely changed, and my definition of sleep has changed with it. But because I seemed to need it more than before, falling asleep wasn’t as big of an issue as it used to be. Instead, my kids getting to sleep became the primary issue. But, I quickly realized that somtimes, things that helped me get to sleep before, would help my babies too.
As a doula and a childbirth educator, sleep is a topic that frequently comes up with parents before baby arrives and after. It is one of the biggest changes to routine that parents experience after the birth of a baby. When babies are born, they are nocturnal and often don’t sort out their days and nights until at least 3 months, but often 6-9 months after birth. Which means your sleep routine will be changing too. In addition, they are also used to the comfort and safety of the womb. Knowing that can help us to figure out what will help to calm our babies after birth.
When teaching prenatal classes we talk about the 5Ss, which is a system founded by Dr. Harvey Karp, author of the popular book ‘Happiest Baby on the Block’. The 5Ss are a simple system of 5 ways to help calm your baby whether they need to sleep, or just need to be calmed and comforted to a happier level again. It’s a system, and a book that I highly recommend to new parents. If you are looking for more information, you can learn more through his books, on his HappiestBaby website, or on his YouTube channel.
One of the 5Ss that we discuss is Shushing or Shhhhhh-ing. The Shushing or Shhhhh-ing is a type of white noise that helps to mimic the muffled sounds that babies hear while they are in the womb, which can help them feel more safe and secure once they are born. This is something that you can learn to do yourself to provide white noise anytime and anywhere. Why would you want to do this? Because, white noise like this is a well known/studied way to help calm babies, children, and even adults as well.
Furthermore, white noise is essentially background noise – other examples aside from what I’ve talked about above include: the sound of a radio station with no music but static instead, the sound of the dishwasher (or a washing machine), the sound of a vacuum or a fan, or the sound of a car (which most experienced parents will tell you often puts a baby right to sleep).
There are many options listed above that you already have available to you to provide white noise. To get a break from ‘being’ the white noice machine, some people like to buy special white noise CDs or actual white noise machines. Some items for babies like bouncers or swings often have sounds built in – many are music or nature sounds, but some offer white noice options as well.