New concerns about nursery sound machines

What parents need to know before bedtime

INDIANAPOLIS - Parents who use a sound machine to drown out what is happening outside their baby’s nursery could be doing more harm than good.

Sound machines for babies boast several different sounds at a whole range of volumes. Earlier this year, the journal Pediatrics published a study that said sound machines around an infant for long periods of time can result in hearing loss.

Good Morning Indiana anchor and mom-to-be Beth Vaughn took those concerns to an audiologist at St. Vincent Hospital.

"There's actually a little bit of research that suggests they're more sensitive for a number of reasons than say an adult's ears," audiologist Audra Harker said.

Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said an adult needs hearing protection if in an environment with 85 decibels of noise over the course of eight hours.

So what does that mean for a baby and the sound machine he or she might rely on to fall asleep?

"You should be keeping that noise maker far away from the child -- not in the crib or on the crib -- ideally across the room or at least on a table not right next to the crib. It should be at a loudness level where you can have a conversation with someone else in the room, easily," Harker said.

Another quick tip: If your sound machine doesn’t have volume control, you can use a piece of tape over the speaker to limit the amount of sound that comes out.

Harker and other hearing specialists agreed that the findings are vague because researchers never want to do research that would intentionally harm the hearing on an infant.

The particular study did not list any specific brands of sound machines as more dangerous than others, but Harker said to never buy a sound machine with only one volume level.

Click here to read the entire study -- http://bit.ly/1jUIZoa

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