How To Calm an Unsettled Baby

Using White Noise

Your baby has just spent 9 months in the womb where there was a constant symphony of sound - your heartbeat and whoosh of fluids rushing in and out of the placenta. You will have heard these sounds from when your midwife was listening to your baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler stethoscope. All of a sudden, the poor little thing is expected to go to sleep in a quiet room. Is it any wonder a high percentage of newborn babies struggle to fall asleep?

Research indicates that “white noise” sounds helps many babies to relax and fall asleep more easily, especially those with colic. This is most certainly because these sounds create an environment which has been more familiar to your baby, helping your baby to feel secure. White noise is the term given to a soft low monotonous hum which contains the full range of frequencies that the human ear can hear. Examples of this are: hairdryer, washing machine, raindrops, a bubbling brook or running water, all of which are similar to those sounds your baby heard in the womb.

These soft sounds work by masking out other baby-waking noises, such as dishes clanking, people talking, siblings giggling, TV, dogs barking, etc. This can also help transition your sleeping baby from a noisy daytime house to one of absolute nighttime quiet. Eventually your baby will rely on this technique less and less to fall and stay asleep, and it is easy to wean your baby off this technique by reducing the volume by a small amount every night until you finally don’t turn the music or sounds on at all. Babies enjoy these peaceful sounds, and they are just one more piece in the puzzle that helps you to help your baby sleep – gently, without any crying at all.

Whatever you choose, listen to it first and ask yourself if this would help you relax and would it make you feel sleepy if you listened to it in bed (before you use it with your child). White noise exists all around you - washing machine, tumble drier, computer fan, air conditioning unit, bathroom fan, etc. However the most success has been found from using recorded white noise, mainly as you are able to control the volume and use it wherever you put your baby to sleep.


  1. There are several sites on the Internet that sell white noise music. Some sites allow you to listen to a sample before you buy and provide immediate download, which is ideal for trasferring to an iPod, phone or MP3 player. This way you can play the white noise anywhere you need your little one to calm down and fall asleep.
  2. If using to aid sleep, then play at very low volume while getting your baby ready for bed and only increase the volume if you feel that your baby is not settling. However, ensure that you are able to adjust the volume without the baby seeing you. You are a distraction to them getting to sleep! It may take several nights for them to calm down but persevere with it and you will see results.
  3. If using to calm down during an unsettled period (without sleep time), then again remove distractions and play the white noise. Hold your baby close and reassure them that you are there by making eye contact and gently rocking.

If you are struggling with a colicky baby or just simply a baby who does not settle, try letting your baby listen to white noise. It is worth a try and you may just be amazed at the effect.

F. Davidson is a survivor of a colicky baby. Please visit her website to read more about natural methods which are proven to calm and settle babies and to purchase white noise tracks at


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