White Noise vs Pink Noise: Which Helps Your Baby Sleep Better?

What is "pink noise" and will it help your baby drift off to dreamland?

February 22, 2022
By: Amanda Mushro

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Photo by: Catherine Delahaye

Catherine Delahaye

Whoever said "sleep like a baby" clearly has never had to tiptoe around the house so as not to disturb a sleeping baby or write a note on your door begging delivery drivers to not ring the doorbell because your little one is snoozing.

One of the best ways to block out the everyday noises that can keep your baby up at naptime or at night is to use a white noise machine. These machines can be really effective in helping your baby drift off to sleep quickly and lessen the chance a loud sound will wake them up. The science behind this makes sense, when babies are in the womb, it’s really noisy with all the blood flowing and stomach acids working. So to put a baby in absolute silence once they're born could make falling asleep really hard for them.

However, is white noise the best option for a better sleeping baby or should you try out pink noise instead, and what is pink noise?

What is white noise?
It’s a mixture of sound frequencies that when played together, help drown out other noises. It contains frequencies that the human ear can and cannot hear. Usually, white noise sounds like a loud vacuum or constant static on a TV.

What is pink noise?
Pink noise differs from white noise in that it only contains sounds we can actually hear. It's often nature sounds – waves crashing, rain falling, or gentle wind blowing.

So which is better?
According to the Sleep Foundation, many people – including babies – enjoy pink noise over white noise because it’s easier on the ears because there aren’t so many frequencies hitting your eardrums at once. Sleep experts say the best way to choose a sound for your baby is to see what they respond to better – TV static or ocean waves, vacuum or raindrops.

Whether your baby responds better to white or pink noise, you’ll want to make sure that the volume does not exceed recommended noise limits for babies. Be sure to move the machine away from your baby’s crib, and if you can’t have a normal conversation over the sounds of the machine, you’ll need to turn the volume down.

Some experts say the white and pink machine should be turned off once your baby falls asleep, but others disagree because many kids that use the noise to fall asleep will need the sounds to lull them back to sleep if they wake up. So you’ll have to figure out what works best for your baby.

Including a white or pink noise machine into your baby’s sleep routine can be helpful if your baby is sleeping somewhere other than their crib. Hearing the gentle sounds will help them recognize it’s time to calm down and sleep whether they’re in their crib, out in the stroller, or sleeping somewhere different on vacation.

Here are some of the best sound machines for babies and toddlers that offer white and pink noise.


This fan favorite has thousands of reviews from parents who love how the Hatch works as a nightlight, white and pink noise machine, and a 'time to rise' wake up for older kids. The colors, brightness, and volume are completely customizable and can even be programmed from an app to turn on, off, or to start a favorite setting.


If your baby needs white noise to fall asleep, this portable machine from Frida Baby is a great choice. It’s small and compact so you can take it in the car, your stroller, or when you travel. It has several different sounds to choose from, a gentle nightlight, and a USB charger.


Attach this sweet sheep to your baby’s crib and play four different soothing sounds like a gentle stream, spring showers, ocean surf or whale songs. The Sleep Sheep has a 23-45 minute automatic shutoff so once your baby has drifted off to dreamland, the Sheep is quiet too.


With six sounds and songs and an image projector, the MyBaby SoundSpa has a variety of ways to soothe your baby at night. It has an autotimer so if you want the machine to turn off, you won’t have to sneak back into your baby’s room at night to power down.


This white noise machine has a wide variety of gentle lullabies like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, outdoor sounds like crickets and waves, and different white noise options to choose from. It also has a nightlight that can help you with those late night feedings.


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