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Colic > Colic Resources > About White Noise

About White Noise

What is white noise?

    "White noise is a combination of all of the different frequencies of sound. You can think of white noise as 20,000 tones all playing at the same time. Because white noise contains all frequencies, it is frequently used to mask other sounds. If you are in a hotel and voices from the room next-door are leaking into your room, you might turn on a fan to drown out the voices. The fan produces a good approximation of white noise. Why does that work? Why does white noise drown out voices?

    Here is one way to think about it. Let's say two people are talking at the same time. Your brain can normally "pick out" one of the two voices and actually listen to it and understand it. If three people are talking simultaneously, your brain can probably still pick out one voice. However, if 1,000 people are talking simultaneously, there is no way that your brain can pick out one voice. It turns out that 1,000 people talking together sounds a lot like white noise. So when you turn on a fan to create white noise, you are essentially creating a source of 1,000 voices. The voice next-door makes it 1,001 voices, and your brain can't pick it out any more." - from HowStuffWorks.com

Is white noise safe for colicky babies?

    Yes, white noise is safe as long as you keep the volume low enough to not harm the ear drums.

Why do colicky babies like white noise so much?

    No one knows for sure why colicky babies like white noise. Some popular reasons are:
    • It sounds like their mother's womb
    • Babies that are over stimulated are able to forget the stimulations because of the sound

What sources of white noise are available?

    There are several white noise CDs that are recordings of household white noise such as a running vacuum cleaner or a hair dryer. Click here to see a complete list of white noise CDs.

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