Sleep machines are devices designed to help babies sleep more soundly. Placed next to a baby’s crib, they generate ambient noise to mask other noises from around the house or outside that could disturb the baby.

A new study led by The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) suggests that infant “sleep machines” (ISMs) are capable of producing hazardous sound levels that may be damaging to infant hearing and auditory development. The study is published in the March 3 online edition of Pediatrics.

The study showed that all of the 14 machines tested exceeded the recommended limits. Even when placed across the room at 200 cm, 93% of the machines exceeded the limit. It is assumed that parents leave the machines on for much longer than the recommended 1 hour, usually for hours at a time while the baby is sleeping.

The researchers make three policy recommendations for manufacture of sleep machines:

  • Manufacturers should be required to limit the maximum output level of sleep machines;
  • Manufacturers should be required to print warnings about noise-induced hearing loss on their products’ packaging;
  • Manufacturers should be required to include a timer that automatically shuts the device off after a predetermined period of time.

They also make the following recommendations that families using infant sleep machines should follow:

  • Place the device as far away as possible from the baby, and never in the crib or on the rail of the crib
  • Play the sleep machine at a low volume
  • Play the sleep machine for a short duration of time.

Source: The Hospital for Sick Children

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