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Parents, be careful with infant sleep machines at high volumes

Nearly all new parents understand what it feels like when their babies simply will not go to sleep. The whole household tends to become sleep deprived when tiny babies cannot find a way to settle down. A number of products and devices have been created in order to help new parents get their children to sleep. Among the most widely used are sound machines that mimic a variety of noises which may include a mother’s heartbeat, ocean waves, rain and other forms of white noise.

Many parents swear by these infant sound machines, including those located inside stuffed animals. However, it is important for parents to understand that these machines may be regarded as dangerous products when they are played at loud volumes.

According to recent research conducted by experts at the University of Toronto, sleep machines may damage infants’ hearing when these machines are played at their maximum volumes. Though the mathematics of the research are complex, the researchers’ conclusions are quite clear. Of 14 popular infant sleep machines that the researchers tested, every single machine exceeded safe decibel limits set by an expert panel in 1999 when the machines were placed at maximum volume and set 100 centimeters from an infant’s head. Several even exceed the workplace safety decibel limits set for adults by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

These infant noise machines are often lifesavers for sleep deprived babies and parents. But they must be used at lower volumes and must be placed away from babies’ heads in order to ensure that they do not cause infant hearing loss.

Source: New York Times, “Infant Sleep Machines at Maximum Volume Reported as Hearing Risk,” Catherine Saint Louis, March 3, 2014

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