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  Sleep – Background noise
My husband and I can’t agree on the noise issue. He feels that baby must be able to sleep through any normal household noise. I, however, am so tired and desperate for the baby to sleep that tiptoeing around does not seem a large price to pay! How do we settle this?

In fact the womb from which your baby emerged not so long ago was quite a noisy place. As well as the sounds of your body working (like your heart beat and breathing), your baby could hear music and conversations that were going on outside the womb. If you can get hold of a recording of the sound inside a womb, you may be surprised at how noisy it is! So extreme quiet may actually be disturbing to a baby, who is used to quite a large amount of background noise. Remember that in large open plan office complexes, white noise is used to mask the intensity of the noise made in the office.

So background noise can be a good thing. The gentle hum of the vacuum cleaner or washing machine, the radio turned down to a low volume, the sound of conversation in the background, are all things that may help your baby to feel safe and able to sleep. Trying to create an extremely silent environment can eventually mean that baby will struggle to sleep in any other environment, which can be hard on all of you.

The kind of noise that can be a problem and will probably waken the baby is often the very kind that is difficult to control. Things like the dog next door barking or a car hooting outside can be problematic. For this reason it may not be a bad idea to change the things you can – turn the phone down to a soft ring, and perhaps get a new doorbell. Sudden and loud noises that wake baby with a fright are not helpful in any situation.

However there are babies who are extremely sensitive to noise. If you have a baby who seems to be easily upset by small amounts of noise, then it is worth making attempts to keep the baby’s environment particularly quiet. Some babies do grow out of this phase and become less sensitive. You may want to experiment to see how to help this situation. Maybe a very soft recording of special soothing baby music will be enough to calm baby and cover any annoying background music.

So the story is that unless your baby is one for whom noise is a big issue, it may be wiser to follow your husband’s thinking, and create a warm safe environment for your baby which includes the normal sounds of household life.

See also:

Sleep - Altered sleep routine

Sleep - Appropriate sleep routines (Jacqui Flint advises)

Sleep - Dealing with Catnapping (Author Erica Neser advises)

Sleep - Darkened room

Sleep - Night Terrors

Sleep - Reasons for waking

Sleep - Sighing

Sleep - Sleep routines for Baby (Author Erica Neser advises)

Sleep - Surviving Co-sleeping (Author Erica Neser advises)

Sleep - Toddler Sleep Problems (Author Erica Neser advises)

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