The Curious Case of the Cacaphonous…Cuarto?


So I stumbled across this study that reports that infants exposed to white noise may experience delays in hearing and language development.

The study was done using lab rats.

Well.  Here’s the thing.  Miles CANNOT sleep (or only if he is uber-tired) without white noise and he cannot STAY asleep if the white noise ends.  The white noise includes but is not limited to: a sound machine, a hair dryer, another hair dryer and combinations thereof.  We have weaned him down to only needing ONE of the hair dryers now. The other has gone back to its home underneath the bathroom sink.

I hate the hair dryer. I HATE it.  how I wish we did not need to use it but it is like sweet mother’s milk to Baby Miles’s ears.  It was the only thing that would calm him when he was colicky and would scream and scream (and then sometimes not even the VACUUM would calm him…and not even the vacuum AND the hair dryer would calm him and he would just have to scream and cry until he was done).  But I often wish we had never started down that slippery slope.

Of course living as we do on a busy street, having some white noise is beneficial to cover the sounds of, oh, ambulances, motorcycles, and loud hiphop music.  But it would be a very nice thing to have just nice, genteel white noise, not the glaring whoosh of the dryer.

Sigh. And now we should worry about Miles’s hearing and/or language development because of it. Frankly, though, I’m not too worried. A) He isn’t a lab rat. B) He gets plenty of normal noise input when he’s AWAKE (it’s not like we go around never talking to him or singing or playing music for him or going for walks outside…maybe they should have taken the lab rats for walks or something).

So even though it is VERY STRANGE that we have a child who MUST have noise–a LOT of noise–to sleep, we can hope that someday he WON’T need it and that we can all get a good, quiet night’s rest.

Like someday when he goes to college.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. npappas
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 13:48:55

    as a child of white noise and a parent of children raised on white noise, i can assure you that it did not delay language development in my children (especially zoe!) or myself. please stop reading that crap–you’re going to drive yourself mad! there’s a study out there that contradicts every move you make as a parent, maybe even as a human.

    on another note, i hear we will be seeing you soon. can’t wait!


  2. mg
    Apr 22, 2008 @ 08:30:28

    i know the feeling. patrick is a pretty light sleeper. our house was built in 1920 so the floors are creaky. sometimes (not always thankfully) when we walk down the hall past his room he’ll wake up.

    i’m looking forward to this summer when we use our attic fan which is nice and loud, we’ll be able to walk up and down the hall as we please and it will probably help him sleep longer as well.

    we’ve never gotten him hooked on white noise, as in he’s able to sleep without it. i’m hoping that this doesn’t affect miles long or short-term.


  3. Lisa
    Apr 22, 2008 @ 09:14:32

    Two basic problems with applying this study to your situation: a) the rats were exposed to continuous noise–not intermittent noise to promote sleep, and, more importantly b)in viewing the larger body of work on this subject, there seems to be some debate as to the importance of these early so-called ‘critical periods’ of neuron circuit development in long term issues vs. the brain’s ability to remain flexible and complete the development later.

    The most useful statement in the article is: “Continuous exposure may have an impact in babies at risk for learning disorders, but you have to think about all the sound exposures that a baby is getting. If you happen to live in an environment that is noisier than normal, it is that much more important to spend a lot of time talking to your baby or reading to expose them to clear [hearing] signals.”

    Stress on the ‘at risk for learning disorders’ and that ‘spending time talking to your baby or reading to them’ is helpful. Since from your general comments on your blog you already do those things, do what you can to help Miles sleep–even if that means contradicting what might be recommended by one article!


  4. ~m
    Apr 22, 2008 @ 17:55:14

    Well, this is not something that I am particularly worried about, in fact. I really don’t see how the study is applicable to human infants unless their parents raise them without any interaction at all such as in the case of the rats! And frankly, what he needs is sleep. If the noise helps him sleep then so be it. We have many years to NOT use the noise.
    So therefore I AGREE WITH YOU ALL!! 🙂
    and mg, I feel you on the creaky floor thing, too…


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