Sound machines are placed on infants’ cribs to lull them to sleep. With music, white noise, and soothing sounds such as rain and heartbeat, sound machines are some parents’ solution to a good nights’ sleep for baby and for themselves. There are dangers involved with sound machines, however, and parents should be careful to not put the machines too close or too loud.

An article recently published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, suggests that infant sound machines are capable of producing sound levels that may be harmful to children’s ears and auditory development.

There are three factors that contribute to the potential for noise-related hearing loss:

  1. How loud it is
  2. How close it is
  3. How long the person is exposed to it

So if, for example, a machine is placed very close to an infant’s crib and played all night long, two of the three factors may expose the child to risk of hearing loss. If the noise is turned up loud to, for example, drown out a television or dog barking, the risk is even higher.

In order to limit the risk of hearing loss, infant sound machines should be placed as far away from the crib as possible, at the lowest volume necessary for the child to still hear it, and for a limited time frame. Machines that include a timer are a good option so they play long enough for the baby to fall asleep but not throughout the night. Some devices even have sound-activation, so if he or she wakes up during the night and cries, music will play again for a short while.

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