Sleep Through the Static

An appropriate title for the newest addition to my CD collection (Jack Johnson’s latest).  I picked it up a couple months ago when my sister and I made the road trip to house hunt.  But, instead of spending the drive jamming out to our new tunes, we spent most of the trip listening to static on the radio as loud as we could stand it.  Why?  Because it made Kendall shut up and fall asleep.  Ever since then, I’ve spent countless hours listening to static, vacuums and hair dryers in an effort to drown out and eventually stop the relentless screaming.  People say, “how can you STAND to listen to that noise?”.   I tell them, “because it drives me a little less crazy than listening to my kid’s non-stop wailing…. just a little…. and I’ll take that little bit of sanity right now.”

We discovered Kendall’s love for the monotonous hum of a hair dryer on the house hunting trip when he was a little over 4 weeks old.  My sister was soothing Kendall one morning as I was blow drying my hair.  As soon as I turned the dryer off, he began his level 10 scream, so Kelly quickly yelled at me to turn it back on.  I did…. and it worked!  He stopped!  The next day, after a too early in the morning to get up feeding, we tried it again, and it lulled him back to sleep.  We left the dryer hanging from the bathroom wall and all dozed off.  My sister jumped out of bed 30 minutes later terrified that we were about to blow the place up.  Luckily Kendall had finally drifted deep enough to not notice and we all managed to get a bit more sleep that morning.

Since that joyous discovery, we have used the hair dryer and the vacuum more than once (those dust buster types are great…. so portable!), but the problem is you can’t leave them on for too long, and many times when I think Kendall is down for good and it’s safe to turn them off (and I’m starting to wonder if I smell smoke) he wakes with a fiery pissed-off-ness the moment I shut it off.  So we tried static on the radio.  It worked okay.  It was our only option while in the car.  But that radio just ain’t like it used to be.  We couldn’t drive more than 5 miles without picking up something on our obscure static channel we searched so hard for.  The drive from VA to TX was filled with a lot of channel surfing… and NOT for a good top 40 station.

Now, people have suggested that I get a white noise machine, and I do have one for him that has been referred to by many moms as “baby crack” which plays the noises  of a heartbeat, rainstorm, ocean waves, and lullabies, but it’s not Kendall’s thing.  My kid has a thing for appliances.

I finally had a revelation a couple weeks ago after pondering how to record the sound of our vacuum to play off our radio in an effort to avoid an electrical fire.  The solution was so simple that I felt stupid for not thinking of it sooner.  I ran to the computer, pulled up Itunes and searched for vacuum sounds.  What do you fucking know?!  There is a WHOLE CD of appliance noises dedicated to helping babies sleep!  For $1.98 I downloaded the noise of a vacuum and the noise of a hair dryer (about 5 minutes each).  I burned three CDs – one for each car and one for the house.

So on our 10 hour drive to St. Louis last weekend I made sure to bring the new CD.  We listened to that damn thing probably 7 out of the ten hours, and the majority of the way back home.  I may have the blaring hum of the hair dryer stuck in my head for the next 10 years, but it was better than flipping back and forth between radio stations trying to avoid random tidbits of Polka and Tejano that would come through.  Now, I wish I could tell you that this was the magic potion that stopped him from crying every time, but I could not be so lucky.  We still had to jiggle his carseat to get him to settle down, and only when we could get him nice and sleepy did the noises work, but it was worth it for that small little bit of sanity we could reclaim.

12 weeks 3 days old

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  1. Have you heard of the 5 S’s? From the happiest baby on the block maybe, or something like that… the guy in the video suggests exactly this – vacuums, hair dryers, radio static, etc to get a baby to quiet down. Or, if you don’t have appliances available – really loud shushing right by baby’s ear.

    (found your birth story post on the nest baby, and really like your blog)

  2. …and what will they think of next?!?! 😀 Good to know–thanks for sharing! I’ve made a mental note to search itunes for appliance noises.

  3. This totally made me laugh because my mom always talks about when I was a baby with her having to vacuum at all hours of the night to get me to sleep. But they were in an apartment. She was positive her neighbors had it out for her.

  4. My sister in law had to do the same thing with her second boy. He wouldn’t sleep for anything and would scream all the time, but he would be quiet with a hair dryer running, so she did it for her own sanity. Her parents gave her a hard time about it (but they’re evil anyway), but it worked! Good luck, it will get easier!

  5. Love the cd idea – brilliant!

    I’m amazed you got him back in the car seat!

    (I hope this isn’t annoying but I’ll risk annoying you if it might help) Have you tried cutting all dairy from your diet? I’ve been reading “Baby Matters” and there are buttloads of studies about babies having difficulty digesting cow proteins, even the diluted version they get from us. Cutting dairy has cleared up a lot of colic problems and general crankiness. Worth a shot maybe.

  6. Thanks for the tip Lisa. How long did it take for you to see results? I’ve tried cutting all kinds of stuff out of my diet, but, admittedly, I haven’t stuck with it for long because I just didn’t feel like it was making a difference and I was sick of living off of Sprite and potatoes.

  7. Some babies are wired differently than the babies who respond to Harvey Carp’s much-lauded 5 S’s. Our daughter hated being swaddled, but she liked being swayed and she liked the shushing. The problem was that we had to do it for about 10 hours/day when she was a newborn or she would begin screaming. She once cried on and off for 14 hours. That was totally awesome!! So all the advice from these experts is nice and everything, but they aren’t up with our kids at 3am. As far as experts go, right now I’m reading Dr. Sears’s (love him or hate him, he has some good ideas anyway) “Parenting the Fussy Baby and High-Need Child” and that, if nothing else, makes me feel like I am not insane. It’s so hard when your baby, who you love more than anything of course, cries soooooo much. You will try freaking anything, even listening to the sound of a hair dryer for 10 hours, if it means that your babe will stop crying. DEAR GOD!! I love this blog. You’re writing about all the things we went through a few months back and continue to struggle with, but in new ways now and at least our pnut is doing some cool stuff now that she’s 8 months old. Aaaaaah, I can’t believe we want to have two more kids, we must be insane…

  8. I absolutely have to have white nose in order to fall asleep! I turn the dryer on every night before I hop in bed. If I don’t fall asleep before it shuts off I immediately snap out of my relaxed state…which pisses me off and makes it take longer to fall asleep.

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