If you’ve been following along with us lately, you know we have been struggling with what is commonly known as the dreaded “4 month sleep regression”. I don’t know if all babies go through this, but I know our little Olivia did not escape it. It typically lasts a couple weeks, but can last longer. And we’re in that lucky group of parents who have been experiencing it for several weeks.
Almost everyone with a baby goes through some type of restless nights, sleep training, co-sleeping solution, etc. There are just so many methods out there and we’re not here to judge or advocate one solution over another. I just want to tell you about one strategy that could help if you find yourself running on empty and enjoying one, or 10 extra cups of coffee to get you through the day.
This is not to say we magically have a baby that sleeps through the night. We are currently working on our own plan to hopefully get there soon. But using a noise machine has definitely helped us get to a better place and allowing our little one to start self soothing.
How do sounds machines help babies sleep?
I’m neither a scientist nor a pediatrician, but when you get to the point of only sleeping a few hours every night, you’ll pretty much do all the research you can to get a few extra ZZZs. The reason sounds machines can help a baby to sleep, and thus why they are so popular, is they often drown out sounds that could wake a light sleeper. In our house, we try to get the baby to bed before 8pm. Of course, we can’t keep a completely silent house at that point. We have housework to do. There is no stopping an energetic dog (no matter how much you try). We need to prepare for work and daycare the next day. And we like to catch up on some of our favorite shows. Using a sound machine helps drown out all the activity going on so the baby doesn’t get startled awake.
The other reason sound machines are so popular is that they can be very calming to a baby. After spending so much time in the womb, a very noisy place, babies are accustomed to noise and it helps to comfort them. They can also get very easily overwhelmed by the world around them: lights, people, new places. Sound helps block out other stimulation and creates a relaxing, safe space. Of course if you’ve ever tried to shush a baby, you’re already using the noise technique. The sound machine is just another way of calming a fussy or crying baby.
We haven’t tried every sound machine out there and I’m sure there are several great ones. But we do have something to compare the SoundSpa Enliven to. We started out using the Summer Infant Lamb Slumber Buddy. There is nothing really wrong with this sound machine. It’s great for travel. and the light display is great. It just didn’t have everything we wanted. For instance, we liked to use the womb type sounds when Olivia was a newborn. The downside was the sound was pretty soft and there was no way to raise it much. So we decided to branch out and get a sound machine that could do a bit more. So we gave the SoundSpa Enliven a go a here’s what we thought:
I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t have an AC adapter enabled device, you will be buying batteries like they are going out of style. This is due to the fact that once you find something that works, you’ll want to use it all day, every day. And that type of usage requires some serious battery purchasing. Do yourself a favor and get a device that plugs into the wall. That has been one of the biggest selling points for us to use the SoundSpa Enliven.
Effective, non-annoying sounds (This is key…)
If everything works out to your advantage and your baby likes listening to a sound machine, you’ll be playing it often and will most likely be sleeping to the sounds yourself (if baby still sleeps in your room). Make sure you get a machine with sounds you can live with. If you find the music annoying, you’ll alternate between lack of sleep due to a waking baby and lack of sleep due to wanting to throw your sound machine across the room. Inevitably, you’ll end up with one where you just don’t like some of the noises. Nick hates the white noise sound on this machine and I’m not a fan of the zen music. It’s all a matter of preference. We absolutely LOVE the campfire and thunderstorm settings (as does Olivia), so we can all sleep happily to these sounds night after night. The SoundSpa Enliven also comes with everglades, ocean, brook, and fan settings. The brook is another of our favorites.
Design and colors
Many babies are calmed by soft colors in addition to sound. There are all kinds of studies about which colors you should use in which situations. You can read all about color psychology and choose the color you want. We tend to stick to blues and purples (seems bedtime-ish). I love the capability to just touch the top and change the color or sound. Such an easy and functional design component. Our room is pitch dark in the middle of the night, so I love how this essentially functions as a night light. It makes middle of the night feedings a lot easier.
If you don’t set a timer, the sounds will continue to play until you turn it off. If you choose to set a timer, you can have sounds auto shut off after 15, 30, or 60 minutes, It’s a pretty great feature if your little one only needs sounds to get to sleep at the beginning of the night.
Since we’ve started using the SoundSpa, we’ve had much better luck putting the baby down for the night. Of course we still have our challenges, but any help is much appreciated at this point.
If you’re looking for different options, HoMedics also offers the SoundSpa Lullaby and SoundSpa Mini Portable Sound Machine, which is perfect for travel.