White noise machines abound, and it’s easy enough to find a ~$20 machine on Amazon or even dig up a completely free device you already have in your home that will work reasonably well. Or you can get something perfectly suited for the job. Your call.
These are the best full-sized white noise machines, in loose order of preference…
- Marpac Dohm & Marpac Dohm Connect ($49.95 / ~$70) – With perfectly “white” non-looping white noise, the Marpac Dohm is a small, self-contained fan unit with adjustable volume. While the Dohm Original does not have a sleep timer (which isn't that important anyway), the Dohm Connect allows you to control sleep schedules using your smartphone. [full review]
- LectroFan ($49.95) – With 20 non-repeating sounds, adjustable volume (that goes quite a bit louder than the Marpac Dohm), a sleep timer, and a USB charger that allows you to plug it in just about anywhere, the LectroFan is an awesome choice. We find the fan sounds to be a bit harsh compared to the more natural sound emanating from the Dohm, but many babies seem to like the LectroFan regardless. Plus, the ten white noise sounds are perfectly lovely. [full review]
If you're looking for something smaller and more portable…
- Marpac Rohm (~$30) – Choose between bright white noise, deep white noise, and gentle surf– all of which are great. This little machine has adjustable volume and works all night on a single USB charge. Just know, it is not a self-contained fan unit like the Marpac Dohm and is more similar to the LectroFan in its white noise output.
- LectroFan Micro (~$35) – Choose between five non-repeating fan sounds, four non-repeating white noise sounds, or an ocean sound. Similar to the Rohm, this little machine has adjustable volume and works all night on a single USB charge. It can even be used as a portable Bluetooth speaker!
- DIY Solution (~$2) – Step 1: Locate an old iPhone or iPad (or Android or whatever) that hasn’t been used in ages but miraculously still works. Step 2: Search iTunes or Spotify for your favorite sleep-inducing white noise track. (A search for “white noise” plus “fan” or “ocean” or “rain” will yield a goldmine.) Step 3: In your preferred music player’s settings, set your crossfade to three seconds or so and select “gapless playback.” This will eliminate startling gaps between one play through of the track and the next. Step 4: Turn your device to airplane mode so nothing beeps or buzzes during baby’s precious sleep. Step 5: Set the track on repeat and press play. Voila. Alternatively: Turn on a fan and point it away from baby.
These are a couple of white noise machines we aren't in love with, but can get behind if you really want one…
- Hatch Baby Rest Night Light and White Noise Machine ($59.99) – This is one of those baby gadgets that is much cooler in theory than it is in practice, mostly because it tries to be too many things at once. As a nightlight, it's a bit too bright. As a white noise machine, the sound options are limited and there's no one perfect white noise, though “rainfall” and “steady winds” could work in a pinch. We prefer Marpac or LectroFan options.
- Big Red Rooster Sound Machine ($19.99) – Choose between six medium-quality sounds– Rain, Brook, Thunder, White Noise, Ocean, and Summer Night. We say “medium quality” because although the Big Red Rooster’s sound quality is totally passable, it is a bit tinny, as would be expected from a sound machine at this price point. This inexpensive machine has adjustable volume, works with batteries or plugged into a wall, and even has a sleep timer. We just don't love the sound quality compared to Marpac and LectroFan options.
- Other White Noise Machines – Your old iPhone included, there are plenty of perfectly passable but somewhat suboptimal white noise machine options out there. We called out the Hatch Baby Rest and Big Red Rooster because we like them best of the “suboptimal” bunch. Just know that many of the cute animal-character and less expensive sound machines out there are not particularly great. (Looking at you, Sleep Sheep.) So while they may seem like a sweet idea or inexpensive alternative in theory, you and your baby are going to be much better served with one of the white noise options above.
Featured photo courtesy of @katiefromings.