Up All Night? These White Noise Machines Help Babies Get Their ZZZ's

by Ileana Morales Valentine

Getting a baby to sleep can feel like a Herculean task, but white noise has been scientifically proven to help. The best white noise machine for babies can be a lifesaver for parents of young infants still learning how to establish a bedtime routine for their baby, and are invaluable for drowning out other noises in and outside of the home ⁠— like creaky floors, older siblings, and traffic.

Types Of White Noise

The gentle, consistent humming sound of white noise is made up of a balance of low, high, and mid-frequency sounds where no one frequency stands out — examples include a waterfall where drops of water hit the ground at different speeds. This sound can also mimic noises heard inside the womb that newborn babies were accustomed to and comforted by. A white noise machine replicates this type of noise on command, and some may have one or several types of white noise options, including:

  • Pink noise: This is a sound that is louder at low frequency range and softer at high frequency — think waves lapping or leaves rustling.
  • Brown noise: A sound that is exceptionally deep at the low frequency end and that lacks higher frequency sound — similar to the "low roar" of a waterfall or thunder.
  • Other soothing sounds: Many white noise machines for babies also offer other similarly soothing sounds, like lullabies.

Decibel Levels

Though most manufacturers don’t disclose the decibel levels of their white noise machines, it’s worth paying attention to your machine’s volume level. A study of several white noise machines for babies found they exceeded the 50-decibel noise level recommended for babies. But there’s a simple way to protect your baby’s hearing while using a sound machine: place the white noise machine at least 7 feet away from the baby and don’t use it at the maximum level.

Extra Features

White noise machines for babies can also have some extra features you may find worthwhile, like projected images or portability. If your baby prefers white noise all night, be sure to choose one with a continuous-on setting.

With all this in mind, below are the best white noise machines for your baby, including several highly rated picks with thousands of reviews on Amazon.

Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently of Bustle's editorial and sales departments.


A Cult Favorite: The Sound Machine With 20 Different Sounds

The LectroFan white noise machine plays an impressive 10 kinds of white noise, including brown and pink noise, plus another 10 fan sounds that include a powerful industrial fan and more mellow oscillating fan. Backed by more than 9,000 reviews, shoppers commented they love all the options for finding the best noise for snoozing.

While the decibel levels of this machine are not listed, it does offer precise volume control that allows you to select among a range of sound levels, including a very faint whisper.

White noise can play continuously for hours, and it also has an option for a 60-minute timer. This is a nicely compact, non-looping white noise machine, but is notably without bells or whistles like a night light or projector. It works with a USB cable or plugs into the wall with an AC adapter. You can buy it in white or black hues.

A helpful review: “When we brought our baby home from the hospital, I helped him get to sleep by saying “shhhhh” near his bassinet. I soon realized shushing a baby to sleep every night was not my idea of good times. So far we’ve used four different white noise makers (not including myself) and this is by far the best. I have since gladly retired as a white noise machine. [...]”


A White Noise Machine That Doubles As A Night Light

This highly rated white noise machine comes with a convenient night light built in, which is especially helpful during nighttime feedings. Reviewers report the soft glow of the night light is bright enough to feed an infant (or change a diaper) but not too bright to disturb a sleeping baby.

As for white noise, there are plenty of non-looping sound options like the pink noise of rain, seven fan sounds, and 10 nature sounds, including a fetal heartbeat setting. It also comes with 32 precise volume settings. It plugs into a wall unit and can play continuously or on a timer for 30, 60, or 90 minutes. This pick comes in white or navy blue.

A helpful review: “[...] First the white noise is just perfect, super relaxing ... My favorite part [is] the light, it’s a glow and just what I need for baby at night. Dim enough to not wake the baby or my husband up. The sound comes out the bottom and has the most soothing quality. I really love this purchase!”


The Best Investment: A 3-In-1 White Noise Machine

This highly rated pick has nearly 4,000 reviews, and its modern, simple design fits into any nursery room decor Though it's the priciest on this list, it's an investment beyond the baby days. The Hatch Baby Rest is a sound machine and night light that can also be used as a time-to-rise machine (like an alarm clock for kids) so it grows with your child from baby to toddler to preschooler, and it also has a toddler lock on the machine.

The smart machine allows you to change settings remotely, which means you can adjust the noise or light without getting out of bed. Using Bluetooth and a smartphone app, parents can create custom daily programs for naptime and nighttime. Although decibel information is not transparent, the app has a simple volume slider that gives you fairly precise control over sound levels.

This machine offers 11 non-looping sounds, including the white noise of television static, pink noise of lapping waves and rainfall, or the brown noise of a laundry dryer. The night light uses 11 soft colors (including one fun rainbow hue) with adjustable brightness settings. For simple powering up, the AC adapter plugs into a wall outlet.

A helpful review: “The app is super easy to use. I programmed the settings so that the nursery is set for bedtime light/sound when baby's bedtime rolls around every night. The sounds are soothing, especially the waves one, that I bring it on trips so baby has a consistent noise environment. If I have to change baby's diaper in the middle of the night, I light it at the lowest levels, and it's pretty easy to see without waking baby up too much. Though it's a pricier than other sound machines, the Ok to Wake function makes it worth it. I can see this being used for years and years.”


The Best On A Budget: A Portable White Noise Machine

In addition to being a practical option for helping babies nap when you're out and about, this portable white noise machine is the most affordable pick on the list and one that is perfect for parents on a budget. This machine from Project Nursery was designed by moms with a clip that conveniently attaches to diaper bags, strollers, or carseats. It has four sounds, including white noise and a heartbeat, plus two lullabies.

The sleep timer can be set for 15, 30, or 45 minutes, but the sound machine can also run all night. Reviewers report the batteries lasts a long time with this portable sound machine, and parents love using it while out or even when riding in the car. Glow-in-the-dark buttons are brilliant for added visibility at night. Keep in mind there is a faint loop, though reviewers commented it is detectable by adults — not infants.

A helpful review: “It blocks noise where baby sleeps in our bedroom and clips onto her rocking bassinet in the family room. It helps her sleep in the car on long drives, clipped on to her carseat. The white noise, ocean and lullabies are awesome and the low volume is enough to still hear baby in the next room but keep her comfortable. [...]”


A White Noise Machine With A Projector

You can soothe your little one before bed with white noise and images of a starry night using this white noise machine designed with a projector. This pick has 28 non-looping sounds, including several kinds of white noise, pink noise, and brown noise, as well as a fetal heartbeat sound.

The night light and projector can be set to one of several color options, including blue, yellow, and green. Adjust noise and light settings for continuous use or on a timer for 30, 60 or 90 minutes. For babies who have trouble sleeping with too many distractions, you can easily turn the projector and night light off and simply use it as a soothing sound machine. As your baby grows, you can slowly introduce the projector into their routine and may find it provides a source of comfort for toddlers and older children.

This sound machine comes in black or white and can run on an AC adapter into a wall outlet, USB, or rechargeable battery (though it's not included).

A helpful review: “I bought this for my 4 month old as he loves to sleep with white noise. We also use a mobile that shines lights onto the ceiling. It got tedious to constantly replace the batteries of the mobile and our other white noise machine had a timer. I love that this machine plays a variety of white noise sounds continuously. You also have the option to set a timer if you want. I really enjoy the star projector as my son loves staring at lights when he winds down for bed.”