Does your baby jolt awake at every night time noise? A sound machine may just be what you need to get your baby to sleep through the night. With so many different styles of sound machines out there, it can be a difficult task to find the perfect one for your baby.
Fortunately, I have done the hard work for you. I will go into detail on the different types of sound machines, how to compare them, as well as the best sound machines available.
Use the links below to jump to your desired section of the guide or continue reading from top to bottom to learn everything you need to know about sound machines. By the time you have finished reading this guide, you will be a baby sound machine expert.
Best sound machines for your baby
Let’s start off by taking a look at some of the greatest sound machines available. These sound machines are hugely popular with parents around the world and with good reason; they work and they work well.
You may have noticed that I have left two popular sound machines off this list. The Munchkin Nursery Projector and the Soundspa Lullaby Sound Machine. While both of these are popular, they have parts that commonly fail before 6 months. I have personally experienced this problem with both devices and as a result, I simply cannot recommend them.
Best plugin white noise machine
Marpac Natural White Noise Machine
- Styles: Black, Tan, White, Fog White
- Brand: Marpac
- 1 Year warranty
- Assembled in USA
- Suitable for babies and adults
- Cancels out background noise
Marpac originally introduced their sound machine in 1962 and has continued to hone and improve their device into what you see here. This sound machine has been a family favourite for generations. If you think the Marpac sound machine sounds like a fan, that’s because it is. Lifting the cover reveals a fan blade on a motor.
The advantage of this over a fan is that it does not blow air directly at your baby, making it suitable for use in winter. You can choose between high or low settings with the flip of a switch before fine tuning the sound to your preferred tone and volume. The sound really is quite variable, surprising considering it is essentially just a fan.
The only thing I don’t like about this sound machine is that it is ugly. Very ugly. In fact, the look of this sound machine made me consider not including it in this list. However, it is not designed to be pretty, it is designed to do one thing and it does that one thing very well; generate white noise.
Best stuffed animal sound machine
Cloud b Sleep Sheep
- Styles: Sheep, Fox, Panda, Bunny, and Bear
- Brand: Cloud b
- Sleep Timer
- Eight sounds
- Soft and cuddly
- Machine washable
The Cloud b Sleep Sheep has long been a favorite amongst parents and is easily the most popular stuffed animal sound machine available. The sleep sheeps popularity has seen Cloud b extend the line to another four animal varieties.
Powered by two AA batteries (which fortunately are included in the packaging) the Sleep Sheep is capable of producing eight different sounds:
- Mother’s Heartbeat
- Twinkle- Twinkle
- Spring Showers
- Whale Songs
- Ocean Surf
- Rockabye Baby
- Tranquil Melody
- Classical Lullaby
The sound machine is removable from the sheep allowing you to simply throw the stuffed animal cover through a wash cycle. This allows you to easily remove drool and sticky patches left by your baby.
A Velcro loop also allows you to easily attach this sound machine to the outside of your baby’s crib, stroller or anywhere else you fancy.
The sleep sheep comes with two timed options (23 and 45 minutes) before it turns itself off so that the batteries are not wasted once your baby falls asleep.
A lovely feature meaning you can simply turn the sound machine on and walk away. My only gripe with this sound machine is that despite the impressive amount of sounds it can produce, there is no generic white noise option. The rain sound probably comes closest.
Best portable sound machine
- Styles: As pictured
- Brand: myBaby
- Soothes quickly
- Rhythmic shush
- Shut off timer
- Volume controller
This sound machine is designed to be taken with you when you leave the house. Easy to clip to objects and easy to wipe down, this sound machine is many mothers first choice to take on walks and other outings with a sleepy baby.
The SoundSpa allows you to choose between four different sounds and can be adjusted by a volume controller.
- White Noise
The SoundSpa stands out from other portable sound machines because it allows you to play the sounds continuously, not just for a predetermined amount of time before shutting off.
A great feature for babies that require continuous external noise to remain asleep. A durable plastic exterior allows you to easily toss the SoundSpa in your diaper bag with little worry about wear.
Another advantage of being made from plastic is that you can easily wipe down the SoundSpa should it get sticky. The device is powered by three AAA batteries which unfortunately are not included.
I suspect this is to keep the cost down as the SoundsSpa is one of the cheapest sound machines available. In fact, you could buy three of them for the price of many other sound machines on this list.
Best Combination Sound Machine
Tranquil Turtle Sound Machine
- Styles: 3 options
- Brand: Cloud b
- Ocean sounds
- Light show
- Cute shape
- 23-minute timer
The Tranquil Turtle combines a night light and a sound machine into one cute turtle shaped package. The sound machine can play two different sounds:
- Ocean waves
- Tranquil Melody
The night light is where this sound machine really shines, excuse the pun. When the Tranquil Turtle is turned on, he projects a blue light with a gentle wave motion. Combined with the ocean waves sound, it will bring the seashore to your baby’s nursery. The volume can be adjusted to six preset levels.
The night light can also be adjusted, you can set both the brightness and movement to a setting that comforts your baby. You can even turn the sound off completely, leaving only the pulsing waves, or make the waves stationary. The Tranquil Turtle runs off three AA batteries and are included inside the packaging.
The packaging also contains a short illustrated storybook, adoption certificate (cute!) and an endangered species animal guide, all of which are lovely extras.
I personally use this as my go to nightlight/sound machine for my infant. My baby is absolutely mesmerized by the pulsing shell, it really is hypnotic. The 23-minute sleep timer is the right amount of time as my baby has long since dropped off to sleep before it shuts off.
Warning: Do not get this confused with the “Twilight Turtle which is just a night light that plays no sound.
Best white noise machine
- Styles: As pictured
- Brand: Baby Shusher
- Plays Continuously
- Four sounds
- Easy to wipe down
- Clip anywhere
In contrast to other sound machines, the Baby Shusher takes a minimalistic approach to generating sound. It makes one sound and one sound only. As the name suggests the Baby Shusher generates a rhythmic shushing sound, similar to the sound you make with your mouth as you are comforting your baby.
The good news is that you can test whether this sound machine will be effective for your baby by recreating the shushing sound yourself. If you notice that shushing at your baby visibly calms him down then this is definitely the perfect sound machine for your baby. The baby shusher runs on two AA batteries and they are included in the package.
My main gripe with the Baby Shusher is that the speaker is located on the flat bottom of the device. As a result, you have to place the sound machine on it’s side in order for the sound to be properly heard.
If you looked at the picture you will have noticed that the device is quite round. Unless the surface that you place the Baby Shusher on is perfectly flat, it will roll around.
Sound machine buyers guide
Below I will cover just about everything you need to know when searching for the ideal sound machine for your baby.
Baby Sound machine FAQ
Below I will answer common questions regarding sound machines. This section is actively updated. If you have a question, ask it in the comments below this guide. I may even add it to this section if I feel it will help others.
What is a sound machine?
A sound machine is a device that plays a series of sounds or white noise to help a baby to sleep. Sound machines can also be referred to as:
- Noise machine
- White noise machine
- Sound conditioner
What is white noise?
White noise is essentially static, similar to an empty TV or radio station. It is produced electronically and while it is not overly pleasant to listen to, it is great for masking irregular background noises. These days many people refer to white noise as being any kind of background noise such as nature sounds or songs.
The difference between a white noise machine and a sound machine
It is not uncommon for people to get between the two, referring to one as the other and vice versa. A white noise machine will only play a static sound while a sound machine can play numerous melodies or nature sounds. Even more confusingly, a sound machine can also play white noise, but it will be in addition to other sounds and melodies.
Why are sound machines effective?
The womb is a surprisingly noisy environment. From the gurgle of your digestive system to the wub dub of your heartbeat, babies put up with an awful lot of noise while in the womb. When you lay your baby down to sleep the room is comparatively quiet. Dead quiet.
Your baby has an immature reflex system that makes him particularly jumpy, jolting awake at unusual sounds, that are easy to hear in the dead of the night. Sound machines produce a constant noise that drowns out these background sounds, resulting in more restful sleep for your baby.
The different types of baby sound machines
Variety is the spice of life and sound machines offer plenty of choice. Below are some of the most common types of sound machines available.
Plug in sound machine
A sound machine that is powered by an electrical outlet. Up until recently, these were the only sound machines available. Since plug-in sound machines do not have to worry about conserving power, they will generally come with more options than the portable variety.
Portable Sound machine
Portable sound machines are great for those of you who frequently travel with your baby. Powered by batteries, you can soothe your baby to sleep no matter where in the world you are. Newer portable sound machines contain rechargeable batteries and can be charged through a USB cable (Like your phone).
Stuffed animal sound machine
Simply put, it’s a sound machine that is encased in a stuffed animal. Huggable during the day soothes your infant to sleep at night, many parents like these sound machines because they are not as ugly as the hard plastic variety. Most stuffed animals can have the sound machine removed, allowing you to wash the stuffed animal without destroying it.
Combination Sound Machine
As the name suggests, a combination sound machine takes a sound machine and adds one or more extra features to prevent parents from having to buy two separate products. Some common combinations of sound machines include:
What to look for when comparing sound machines
With so many similar sound machines on the market, it can be difficult to choose the best one for your baby. Below are some features to look for when choosing a sound machine.
How is the sound machine powered?
Sound machines are either powered through a wall socket, USB plug or by batteries. While batteries give the sound machine the added bonus of being portable, they can be costly to replace.
If you have your heart set on a battery operated sound machine, then consider purchasing rechargeable batteries and a charger. While the upfront cost will be higher, it will work out cheaper in the long run.
Does the sound machine come with a remote control
Some sound machines come with a remote control. A remote allows you to turn the sound machine off once your baby has fallen asleep, without having to enter the room and wake him.
Does the sound machine come with a sleep timer?
Some sound machines come with a sleep timer. A sleep timer is essentially a pre-set timer that counts down once the sound machine is switched on. Once the timer reaches zero, the sound machine will switch off.
Many battery operated sound machines come with a sleep timer to prevent the batteries from being drained while your baby is asleep. Be mindful that some sound machines come with an automatic sleep timer, meaning that if you want the sound to play continuously throughout the night, you will be unable to do so.
What sounds does the machine make?
Sound machines can generate a wide variety of sounds and melodies. Some commonly generated sounds include:
- Heartbeat – A beating Wub-Dub sound
- Nursery melody – A instrumental melody
- Animal sounds – Birds, whales etc.
- Ambient nature sounds – Waves, waterfalls, etc.
- White noise – A fuzzy static sound
If you think any of those sounds would appeal to your baby then hold out until you find an appropriate sound machine.
What does the sound machine look like ?
The last thing you may want to consider when shopping for a white noise machine is it looks. Let me tell you now, some sound machines are down right ugly. Fortunately, there are plenty of pleasing designs available, you may even find one to match your nursery decore!
Free alternatives to sound machines
Fortunately, you do not need to spend money if you want to try a white noise solution on your baby. Below are some simple ways you recreate a sound machine using objects you may have laying around the home.
Use an old radio
If you have an old radio hiding in your attic then it may be time to dust it off and bring it back to life. Simply turn the dial until it is between radio stations. You should be rewarded with a lovely static noise.
Use a fan
The whirr of a pedestal or desk fan will provide a white noise solution. Avoid placing the fan so that it blows directly on your baby. A probably isn’t an ideal solution for Winter since you cannot have the whirring sound without the associated breeze.
Use the washing machine
A little bit more unconventional than the other free white noise solutions, if your washing machine is near the nursery you could turn it on for an empty cycle while your baby is drifting off to sleep.
Do not use a TV as a white noise device. The flickering light a tv gives off will stimulate your baby, resulting in a restless and broken sleep.
Make your own sound machine
If you are up for a challenge you can even make your own white noise machine. You can even use materials that match your nursery’s décor. Below are some amazing step by step tutorials.
- Easy DIY sound machine – A simple guide for beginners on making their own baby white noise machine.
- Make your own wooden sound machine – A guide with gorgeous pictures that neatly explains how to make a wooden sound machine for your baby.
- DIY Electric white noise machine – A broad guide on how to make your own baby sound machine. You will require basic ciruit knowledge as the guide glosses over how to wire up the motor.