Can Infant Sleep Machines Hurt Babies’ Ears?
Infant “sleep machines” (ISMs) are used to produce noise to mask other sounds in busy or loud households. The intended goal is to soothe an infant during sleep. The consistent use of these devices, however, present concerns about potential hearing loss and one Pediatrics study, Infant Sleep Machines and Hazardous Sound Pressure Levels, explored these concerns.
14 different infant sleep machines and the maximum noise level of 65 decibels were considered at three separate 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)
The current recommended noise limit for babies in hospital nurseries is 50 dBA and all 14 machines exceeded that level. All but 1 of the 14 exceeded the recommended noise limit even when placed 200 centimeters (or 6.6 feet) away. The findings from this study also revealed that regular exposure to white noise through an infant sleep machine may be damaging to infant hearing and auditory development.
The authors encourage further study and suggest parents and guardians lower the volume and keep the infant sleep machines farther away than 200 centimeters.