For sleep deprived new parents, white noise machines can be a game changer, proving time and time again to be an extremely useful tool for promoting sleep in your baby, helping them to fall asleep faster and more easily. Any improvement in baby’s sleep or reduction in the amount of time it takes for them to fall asleep is a huge win, especially after all other techniques have been exhausted.
The term “white noise” refers to a sound, not dissimilar to television or radio static, that contains sounds of all different frequencies together, much like how the colour white is made of all the different colours together. Because it contains all frequencies, it can effectively mask other sounds. Additionally, young babies are already very used to this sort of repetitive, blurred sound from their time spent in the womb, and is thought to have a soothing effect on them, helping to relax and settle them and lull them to sleep, particularly during the first few months of life.
White noise machines are simply devices that produce constant white noise to aid sleep. They help to mask out household sounds like traffic, television or noisy older siblings. White noise machines for babies frequently also offer a variety of other repetitive sounds that are soothing to babies, such as lullabies, nature sounds like rain or ocean waves, and heartbeats. Because of this variety in sound, they may be marketed as sound machines or sound soothers, and this article will use these terms interchangeably as they all serve the same purpose: to use sound to help baby sleep.
Simply turn the white noise machine on at bed time and allow your baby to gently relax and drift off to sleep. It makes a great addition to your bedtime routine by providing an effective sleep association, and can help enormously with transitioning your new baby to the outside world by providing him with the familiar sounds he is used to from the womb.
So, without further ado, here are our top 12 white noise and sound machines to improve baby’s sleep, chosen for their functionality, ease of use and different features. We start with the more premium, feature-packed machines and finish with the more simple and affordable models.
1. Marpac Whish
A white noise machine designed not only for baby, but for all troubled sleepers
Price AUD: $99.95
A brand-new White Noise and Sound machine from Marpac, perfect for baby, however, this unit can also be used for light sleepers, studying, apartment living, tinnitus, noisy environments, snoring spouses, shift workers, and much more.
You can choose from 16 sound options, ranging from simple high quality white noise and fan sounds to sleep songs, meditation options, or nature sounds.
Whish has designed a sleek, compact unit suitable to place anywhere in your home. You can even take your sleep environment with you, packing it for weekends away or family holidays. Keep in mind, this is not a portable rechargeable machine. The Whish runs plugged in with an included one-meter USB cable cord. The power plug is not included in this purchase; however, you can use any USB port such as a phone charger.
Featuring a robust volume control, from whisper quiet to louder sounds. Simply turn on the Whish and tune everything else out. It also comes with two timer options, minimising disturbances during the night.
It is important to note, if choosing a Marpac product, that Marpac is now rebranding its products as Yogasleep and transitioning to new packaging under the Yogasleep brand.
2. Dreamegg White Noise Machine
Premium white noise machine with huge library and high quality sounds
Price AUD: $108.85
This premium white noise machine is an all-in-one dreamtime unit for mums who want the very best. With a huge library of twenty four different sounds to choose from, ranging from classic white noise to natural waves and birds and also mechanical sounds like fans and trains, there’s something there to soothe everyone in the family, not just baby. For that, we picked the Dreamegg as our best white noise machine for baby.
We found the sound quality to be excellent in both low and high volumes, and the round design disperses the sound evenly around the room. It masks disruptive noises in the environment effectively for peaceful slumber. This also makes the Dreamegg useful in a variety of situations, not just sleeping.
The machine is fitted with intuitive, easy to read buttons that also control volume and activate the timer and memory function, and the gentle glow night light is dim enough to not wake your sleeping baby.
Its simple and stylish design will fit into any decor and it’s compact enough to travel with, however it’s not battery operated and comes with a USB plug you can use with your own power adaptor.
The Dreamegg is a high quality and versatile white noise machine and we can recommend it for the whole family, not just your baby. Everyone will be able to take advantage of its soothing sounds to aid quality sleep, study or relaxation.
3. SoundBub by WavHello
Bluetooth compatible so you can play virtually any sound or music
Price AUD: $100.59
This adorable white noise machine is very portable and simple to use, suitable for busy families on the go. Just press Ollie the Owl’s tummy to activate the white noise and lull your baby to sleep. It can be paired with any Bluetooth compatible device so you can play their favourite songs or music, and you can even play voice recorded messages so baby can listen to yours or family member’s voices, perfect for extended family members who aren’t close by to keep in touch with baby.
With three different white noises built into the unit and another eleven soothing sounds available to download from the app for free, you’re sure to find a go-to soothing sound.
The timer features allows you to set the length of time the white noise is to play, or you can set it to continuous in case of middle-of-the-night wake ups.
Its materials are soft and chew safe for your teething baby and the battery operated unit is light and compact, so you can take it with you out and about. The stand cleverly transforms into a clip you can use to attach to your pram, capsule or cot, or anywhere you need to keep it close.
4. Bubzi Co Soothing Sleep Owl
Soft and snuggly with a unique, calming night light
Price AUD: $54.95
Among the best sound machines for baby and especially recommended by sleep experts and Mums alike, The Bubzi Co Soothing Sleep Owl is a thoughtfully designed white noise machine that provides excellent function in a cute, cuddly character your baby will love to hold.
Choose from a generous library of white noise, soothing lullabies, nature sounds or even a gentle heartbeat to remind your young baby of their time in the womb. There are five volume levels and a handy automatic timer so you won’t have to sneak into the nursery to turn it off after baby is asleep.
Our favourite feature is the unique night light function; rather than a steady glow, it projects a calming galaxy of stars on the walls or ceiling that slowly fade into different colours, giving your baby relaxing visuals to further help them drift off into dreamland.
Soft and cuddly, your baby will love to snuggle with the Sleep Owl, and for babies over the age of 12 months, it’s completely safe to pop inside the cot. An older baby or toddler may even learn how to operate it themselves, but for younger babies, there’s an easy velcro fastening on the back to quickly attach it to the cot or pram. The battery operated sound box is removable so you can easily wash your Sleep Owl when it’s not in use.
5. Homedics My Baby SoundSpa
Uses both sound and visuals to create an all round soothing environment
Price AUD: --
The Homedics My Baby SoundSpa makes good use of both sound and visuals to help create an ideal overall environment for sleep.
There are six soothing sounds, including a heartbeat and gentle rain, and classic lullabies to choose from, though there is no classic white noise option. The inbuilt projector comes with three different baby friendly scenes to cast onto the walls or ceiling. The image quality is clear with distinctive colours and the inbuilt timer allows you to control how long both sound and visuals run for.
You’re able to use sound and visuals together or separately and it’s great for creating a solid sleep routine for baby as they will come to associate the sounds and images with sleepy times.
The egg shaped unit sits upon tables and other flat surfaces and doesn’t have a clip or strap to attach to cot rails or hang from prams, which is fair enough as you want clear images from the projector, but means you probably need a bedside table next to baby’s cot to take full advantage of the visual features. It’s powered by mains and the cord is of generous length to easily reach your outlet.
6. Marpac Hushh
Simple and compact for on-the-go use and travel
Price AUD: $48.72
Take naptime on-the-go with this portable white noise machine, designed to help baby fall asleep and stay asleep anytime, anywhere. The Hushh cradles your baby in soothing sound to create a comforting, consistent sound environment for sleep, and at 28g and 9cm across, it is ideal for on-the-go use and travel. It is easy to toss in the diaper bag, and its baby-safe flexible clip attaches to virtually anything.
This compact portable unit comes with 3 sound options, perfect for busy parents who don’t want to spend too much time scrolling through an abundance of sound options. With this simple little number, you can choose from bright white noise to deep white noise, or gentle surf sounds, with a wide volume range. The child-lock setting allows you to pick and lock a desired setting and volume to prevent younger hands from altering the sound or turning the unit off.
Forget batteries and electrical outlets - Hushh is powered by a lithium-ion battery and can operate all night long on a single charge and comes with convenient USB cable for recharging. Throughout night-time or naptime, it masks disruptive noises to promote longer, more restful sleep cycles and provides just enough light by amber LED to see by without causing wakefulness for parent or baby.
7. Zazu Suzy Portable Baby Soother
Super portable and high quality, best for travel
Our best travel white noise machine is the ultra portable Zazu Suzy, a must have for mums who spend a lot of time out and about but don’t want to compromise their baby’s quality sleep.
At just 9cm in diameter and weighing less than 300g, you can toss Zazu Suzy into your bag anywhere you go and attach it securely to your pram with the large velcro strap when in use.
There are six distinctive soothing sounds to choose from including classic white noise, heartbeats, shushing and lullabies and a number of volume settings which you can adjust depending on your surroundings. As a product specifically designed for portability, Zazu Suzy does a decent job of drowning out background noise but might not be quite up to the challenge in especially loud urban environments.
We love the innovative cry sensor which automatically activates your preferred sound whenever it hears your baby cry so they can be soothed back to sleep sooner, and this feature works surprisingly well.
Sounds will automatically stop playing after 20 minutes to preserve battery life however there is no option to change this so you’ll have to turn it on again if it takes baby longer than this to fall asleep.
8. Baby Shusher
This much loved favourite echoes the sounds of the womb
Price AUD: $46.99
The award winning, much loved Baby Shusher is simplicity at its best. Its rhythmic “shush” sound, voiced by a real human, lulls your baby to sleep and is designed specifically to be reminiscent of the sounds of the womb.
The adjustable volume goes up to a maximum of around 80 decibels, which is close to the 90-95 decibels said to occur within the womb, without running any risk of exposing your baby to potentially dangerous sound levels.
Battery operated and made of a durable BPA free plastic, it comes with an adjustable wrist strap so you can keep it close even whilst holding or rocking your baby. For the best and most soothing results, it’s suggested that the Baby Shusher be used within half a metre of your baby. It is, however, turned on by twisting the unit, requiring both hands, so there could be a bit of baby juggling. The timer can be set to fifteen or thirty minutes so you won’t have to risk waking a sleeping baby in your arms when it’s time to turn it off.
A baby registry favourite, the Baby Shusher also makes a thoughtful and useful gift for expecting parents. This popular product does exactly what it claims to do: effectively soothes a fussy or crying baby by using human, womb-like sound to activate the calming reflex.
9. Project Nursery Giraffe Sound Soother
Cute design looks great in your nursery
Price AUD: $41.95
The Project Nursery Giraffe Sound Soother is styled like a friendly giraffe and will fit right into your nursery, doubling as an adorable piece of decor.
Press the buttons on the giraffe’s tummy to choose from the library of three natural sounds and three lullabies which all offer a clear and crisp, high quality sound. The classic Brahms lullaby in particular gets a more upbeat makeover which could stimulate your baby into bopping along with the music – fun, but perhaps not ideal for bedtime!
Offering both AC and battery power options for ultimate ease of use and flexibility to take anywhere, the Project Nursery Giraffe Sound Soother is simple and super easy to use with one touch adjustable volume and timers. It’s a great choice for parents only needing a basic, no fuss option but who also appreciate cute nursery items.
10. Skip Hop Stroll & Go
Lightweight and compact, perfect for strolls out and about
Price AUD: $21.69
This is a cute and simple sound machine to help soothe baby when out and about. Either sit the owl shaped unit on a flat surface or use the silicone strap to easily attach to your pram or nappy bag.
It’s durable and appealing to baby and can even double as a stroller toy with its soft rubber controls and fabric covered speakers. There are two soothing classic melodies and two nature sounds to choose from, three auto off timer options and volume control, operated by three AAA batteries.
For a portable unit, we found that the volume is quite low even at its loudest setting and it may be a bit of a struggle to hear when in busy urban environments. The sound quality is, however, sharp and clear and will be appreciated in quieter settings. Because of its small and portable design, it can be moved around easily and be placed close to your baby. In this way a lot of background noise can be drowned out successfully.
We recommend the Skip Hop Stroll & Go as a handy portable option, best for babies who already have a sound machine at home and are accustomed to white noise for napping.
11. Oricom Portable Sound Soother
Equally as useful at home or for naps out and about
Price AUD: $21.59
This portable sound soother is styled as a friendly owl and is perfect for those looking for a no fuss, affordable soother from a reputable brand, for use both in the nursery and for those who are out and about a lot at nap time.
Seven different soothing sounds are preloaded, including lullabies, nature sounds, shushing and white noise, so you have all the options at hand to help lull your baby to sleep.
The inbuilt nightlight in the owl’s tummy gives a warm glow making it just as at home in the nursery as it is out and about. Sit the owl upon any flat surface at home or hang from a hook, pram or cot with the adjustable strap.
The control buttons are on the back of the Oricom Sound Soother rather than the front, and are quite small in size, which makes it a bit tricky to operate as you have to turn the unit around to see them. They are, however, clearly labelled and you won’t have any trouble figuring out what button does what. The functions are standard and include volume control, two timer options and nightlight operation. Battery operated, there’s a handy low battery alert to let you know when to replace them.
12. MyBaby Soundspa On‐the‐Go
An affordable, compact, and portable model, for home or on-the-go
Price AUD: $29.00
The HoMedics MyBaby Soundspa On-the-Go is a must-have for new parents or households on a budget. With only 4 options to choose from, this unit is convenient and easy to use. It plays four different soothing sounds, including Heartbeat, White Noise, Ocean, and Lullaby, and has an adjustable volume control so you can get the sound just right for baby.
The adjustable clip attaches to strollers, diaper bags, car seats, and more, and it is small and lightweight enough to slip into your bag during those last-minute dashes out the front door. The auto-off timer can be set to 15, 30, or 45 minutes, making it perfect for naptime without any disruptions.
The MyBaby Soundspa On-the-Go is battery operated, with 3 AAA batteries included. So the down side to this unit is you may find in time, having to replace the batteries often and the sound quality may degrade as the battery power degrades. If you are looking for a long-term investment, this might not be your pick, but you could consider other models listed on this page that use plug-in cords, USB ports, or rechargeable lithium batteries for more longevity.
Why purchase a white noise machine?
Many parents are a little dubious about purchasing a white noise machine. After all, you can play white noise for free from your phone, or recreate it easily enough at home with fans or radio static, so why buy a dedicated unit?
Firstly, you will want any product or service you use for your little bundle to be above all, safe. White noise machines designed for babies have this in mind so you can be confident that the volume and sounds are appropriate, there are no potentially dangerous emissions, and when positioned as instructed by the manufacturer, there will be no risk of falling parts or loose cords.
Secondly, convenience and predictability, simply turn it on, set the timer and forget about it. While it’s easy enough to play white noise on your phone, what if you need your phone for other tasks, it runs out of battery, an ad starts playing or it starts ringing just as baby is just drifting off to sleep? White noise machines do just one task and they do it reliably with no other functions that could disrupt your baby.
How to choose a white noise machine for baby
Here are some common and useful features of white noise machines, as well as differences between models, to look out for when making your decision.
Types of noise. There are some differences between classic white noise and the other soothing sounds you might find on your white noise machine. Whilst lullabies are a popular choice and we culturally associate them with sleeping babies, music isn’t technically white noise nor is it as effective. Repetitive nature sounds like ocean waves rolling, are much closer in structure to white noise and are more likely to give the desired result.
Battery or mains operated. Battery operated, portable white noise machines are excellent for those who spend a lot of time out and about when baby needs to nap. Portable units tend to have a smaller library of sounds to choose from and fewer or more restricted features, for example, perhaps only one timer option. Those operated by mains are usually larger in size with larger sound libraries and more features. They typically include a night light and are often styled to be appealing as decor items within the nursery. A major advantage is not having to worry about replacing batteries, or them running out.
Visual features. For a complete, relaxing atmosphere, consider white noise machines that feature visual stimulation as well as aural. Whilst many white noise machines designed for the nursery have an included night light, some go even further by projecting calming images or scenes onto the wall or ceiling. This can help to develop a stronger sleep association as baby learns to know that gazing at the stars on the ceiling makes them sleepy, however be careful that it doesn’t have the opposite effect and provide too much stimulation for sleep!
Safety tips. The greatest safety concern with white noise machines is how loud they are, or can be, and how this affects baby’s sensitive little ears. For white noise to be effective, baby needs to be able to hear the sound over his own crying, however care must be taken to not go too far; this is not a case of the louder the better. It’s generally accepted that noises below 80 decibels will not be damaging to baby’s hearing, unless exposed for long periods of time. You should always try the lowest sound setting first, rather than the loudest, and adjust from there, and the machine should never be placed directly next to baby’s face or ears. Set the timer to turn off after baby is asleep to avoid extended exposure.
Baby might become reliant on white noise. White noise may work wonders in getting your baby to drift off to sleep and help with resettling, but they may start to rely too heavily on the white noise to get to this. Problems can arise if you’re in a situation where white noise, or their preferred white noise, is not available, and they need to sleep. This is where portable white noise machines can come in very handy, as you can toss them in your nappy bag and take them anywhere.
Baby doesn’t like/respond to white noise. As we know, all babies are different, and some simply just do not like white noise, or perhaps they tolerate it but it has no effect on their sleep. It could be worth trialling white noise for a few days (perhaps an app on your phone) before purchasing a dedicated white noise machine.