Hearing experts say, 'Listen up:' Sound machines harmful to baby - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Hearing experts say, 'Listen up:' Sound machines harmful to baby ears

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If you’re a parent, or a baby, the sound of white noise is probably music to your ears. If you’re a parent, or a baby, the sound of white noise is probably music to your ears.
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - For many parents the hum of white noise is key to getting their child to drift off to sleep, but a recent study showed the way parents use sound machines may cause long term hearing damage. The study, published in the journal "Pediatrics," suggests sound that is played too loud or too close to the ear over time can damage it. A local expert warned parents to listen up: although sleep machines can be a great tool, there is risk.

If you’re a parent, or a baby, the sound of white noise is probably music to your ears.

“Oh, everyone uses a sound machine, yes, sleepless nights you’ll try anything,” Nicole Landrum, a new mom, said.

She said she relied on music and sounds to soothe her baby girl even before she was born by using an app on her cell phone.

“Every time I would put the music on, it didn’t matter what it was, she would kick my phone and just kind of move around and everything and then she’d calm down and, I guess, go to sleep,” she said.

Landrum told us she read plenty of books before the birth of her baby girl, but had never heard about the effects of sound machines on a baby’s ears.

“It’s something that’s caused over time,” Dr. Jennifer Holdman, an audiologist, said. “That damage sometimes won’t show up until 10, 15 years later.”

She said it’s all about the volume of the sound machine and distance from a baby’s ear.

“Long term exposure to noise that’s about 85 decibels or above is known to create some hearing loss or some damage to your sense organ for your hearing,” she said.

That study showed some of the most popular sound machines produce above 85 decibels at their highest volume.

Landrum said they even hurt her ears if turned up too high.

“I don’t turn them all the way up because it can get really loud, so I just turn it up a little bit,” Landrum said.

Sound machines are great, said Dr. Holdman, as long as they’re used properly.

“If you have someone that’s exposed to 85 decibels or more, 8 hours at a time, over and over and over again, that’s when you’ll start seeing that noise exposure create the hearing loss,” she said.

Holdman recommends keeping the machine in the room, not on the crib.

“[It's] way too loud to put next to her, to her ears,” Landrum explained.

And keep the volume low so baby can sleep, and hear, easy.

That study didn’t specifically test babies, just 14 different popular brands of sound machines and their decibel measures.

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