The role of the Registered Nurse or Newborn Care Provider is to feed, soothe, bathe, change & provide all other gentle care to baby through the night.

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Swaddling + White Noise = Sleepy Baby

updated, October 8, 2023- Babies spend most of their lives sleeping, so helping them with something so natural should be the easiest thing in the world…right? Infant safe sleep guidelines mean that newborns and infants up to age 1 should never sleep on their stomachs or on an incline. But there is one baby sleep technique that our night nanny and postpartum doula team swears by: Swaddling + White Noise = Sleepy Baby

how to swaddle video

Swaddling + White Noise = Sleepy Baby – What is White Noise?

White noise is an effective baby sleep tool because it simulates the sounds your newborn heard in the womb, and also masks other noises that might startle or awaken a sleeping baby. Sound masking works for adults too! You can make the shhh noise yourself, use a white noise app or purchase an item like the Hatch which can stay in the nursery and you can program from your phone.

definitions of white noise, pink and brown noise
Different Color Noises that Help Baby Sleep

In the past, sleeping in the elevated position was recommended by many pediatricians and GI specialists. This was meant to soothe infant reflux or distress because the incline would help keep stomach contents down. However American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines state that the only safe sleeping position for baby is on his or her back. Further, as of June 2021, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has banned incline sleepers, rockers and other devices marketed as “sleepers” for babies.  This is because we now know that newborns’ airways can become constricted if their heads tip forward; a risk when using incline sleepers.

For parents whose babies are uncomfortable on their backs, it might be tempting to use baby gear to help prop baby up or co-sleep. It’s vital to remember that the AAP does not recommend sleep positioners or co-sleeping. And we already know that pillows and and rockers are unsafe. So what IS the answer to helping baby sleep soundly?  

Swaddling + White Noise = Sleepy Baby

Swaddling plus white noise after giving baby enough time to digest milk can quickly boost baby sleep while keeping them safely on their backs.  In addition to this, ensure that baby has been given at least 30 minutes to burp and work out any gas before lying down.  This way they don’t spit up or become uncomfortable. Thirty minutes is a long time in the middle of the night, but making that time investment, plus swaddling and introducing white noise will pay off later in the night in restful sleep for baby and you. 

Swaddling + White Noise = Sleepy Baby – How Do You Swaddle a Baby?

So how do you swaddle a baby? In general any baby blanket with a bit of give that fits snugly can be used as a safe swaddle. Night Nurse (RN) Ashley demonstrates 2 swaddling techniques:

As of 2022, updated AAP guidelines state that weight sleep sacs and swaddles should not be used. There is no safe amount of weight that can be placed on babies’ chest and ribcage and these products are also untested. As of night nurses often say, just because they sell it, doesn’t mean it’s safe.

This is not a sure fire answer to every sleep question, but swaddling baby, white noise and ensuring baby has had enough time to digest after feeding can be a helpful combination to allow baby to sleep comfortably and safely.