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Best baby sound machines

Best baby sound machines

We tested and evaluated the most important features of baby sound machines to aid you in your quest to make your baby fall asleep and stay asleep longer. Based on our research, we recommend the Munchkin Nursery Projector and Sound System as the best baby sleep machine. It has a wide variety of high-quality sound profiles and doubles as a calming visual aid with its projector and nightlight. The optional voice activation feature automatically triggers the sounds or images when your baby starts crying.

Best baby sound machine

Munchkin Nursery Projector and Sound System

Munchkin Nursery Projector and Sound System

Good sound selection
Helpful visual aids
Automatic voice activation
Not battery powered
Not portable

The Munchkin baby sound machine combines soothing sounds with calming visuals to help your baby fall asleep in a calm environment. It has 10 sounds, including heartbeat, rain, ocean, white noise and six lullaby songs.

It also has a soft blue nightlight and three projector images that display on a wall or ceiling. The rainforest, night sky and sea images are on separate cartridges stored in the back panel of the sound machine so you don’t lose them. Use the sounds and images together or separate from each other.

This baby sound machine can play sounds and project images continuously, or you can set a timer to automatically turn the device off after 15, 30 or 60 minutes. This is the only baby sleep machine we tested with a voice-activation feature which turns the device on and plays sounds or projects images when your baby wakes and starts crying. Using the timer function weans your baby off needing noise to fall asleep, and the voice activation feature alongside helps encourage self-soothing. The Munchkin sound machine doesn’t have battery backup, which means it is not a good option for traveling.

Best value

Big Red Rooster BRRC129

Big Red Rooster BRRC129

Compact and durable design
Optional battery power
No visual aids
Subpar sound quality
No voice activation

The Big Red Rooster baby sound machine is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and costs less than $20. Although this is one of the most cost-friendly products we tested, we didn’t label it as the best value based solely on its price tag.

This baby sound machine has sound profiles and features comparable to products that cost twice as much.

It has six sound selections, including heartbeat, ocean and white noise along with three lullaby songs. Those songs and sounds play continuously, or you can set a timer to turn the sound machine off at 15-, 30-, or 60-minute intervals. Transitioning your baby from continuous sound to shorter intervals helps wean them off the need for sound masking and prepares them to sleep through environmental noise. The compact design makes it easy to stow away in a daypack or diaper bag, and the flush-mounted controls on the top panel are less susceptible to breaking than other models we reviewed. The Big Red Rooster is powered by the included AC adapter or three AA batteries. The optional battery power adds to this baby sound machine’s portability.

Best portable

WaveHello SoundBub

WaveHello SoundBub

Compact and durable design
Rechargeable battery
Bluetooth connectivity
Only three sound profiles
Limited timer options
No visual aids

The SoundBub baby sleep machine from WavHello is the most compact and innovative product we tested. It is the only sound machine we reviewed with a rechargeable battery.

You can also stream music or calming sound profiles from any Bluetooth-enabled device. There are only three sound profiles loaded on the SoundBub, but there are a plethora of free white noise apps that offer a wide range of soothing tone possibilities. The battery charges with a standard USB cable included in the retail packaging.

Not only is this baby sound machine compact, it’s also the most durable product we tested. The adjustable clip on the back panel is made from chew-safe materials and is easy to attach the SoundBub to a crib or car seat. The front panel is a soft, padded fabric with coarse rubber feet to keep it from sliding around on slippery surfaces. You activate the preloaded sound profiles by pressing the speaker on the front panel.

Best visual aid

Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother

Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother

Fun visual stimulation
Lacks continuous play feature

The Baby Einstein Seas Dreams Soother has a limited sound selection, but it doubles as a visual aid and crib toy.

Choose between four different operating modes with different combinations of music, sounds, underwater lights and sea life in motion.

The sounds and lights run for 25 minutes, gradually softening every 10 minutes to put your baby to sleep. Once the time is up, the sound machine turns off - there isn’t a continuous play feature. It has an adjustable clip that fits on any size crib or toddler bed. There are two volume settings, and the accompanying remote turns the lights and sounds on or off from up to 15 feet away. This sleep machine can’t run on AC power from a wall socket, so make sure to keep some C batteries handy.

Best stuffed animal

Bubzi Co Soothing Sleep Owl

Bubzi Co Soothing Sleep Owl

Cuddly stuffed animal with soothing sounds
Only runs on batteries

The Bubzi Co Soothing Sleep Owl has two nature sounds and 10 lullabies to help calm and soothe your baby.

The sound machine is removeable and has a star projector feature that works with the music and nature sounds or without. The Soothing Sleep Owl operates on batteries, which adds to it portability.

This baby sleep machine has a 30-minute timer that turns the projector and sounds off, so you don’t have to sneak into the nursery after you baby falls asleep. There’s a Velcro strap on the owl’s back to attach it to a crib or car seat and the sound module is removeable so you can wash the stuffed animal when it gets dirty.

ProductPriceOverall RatingPricingSoundFeaturesDesignNoise MaskingNumber of SoundsSound QualityContinuous PlayNightlight/ProjectorTimer Duration (minutes)Battery PowerPortableAC Adapter
Munchkin Nursery Projector & Sound SystemView Deal4.5/54.3552.7A+10A15, 30, 60No Battery Operation
Big Red Rooster BRRC129View Deal4.5/553.73.45B6C+15, 30, 603AA
myBaby SoundSpa Portable MYB-S205View Deal4/54.543.45A-6B+15, 30, 604AA
Conair C Sky Light with Sound TherapyView Deal4/553.44.23.3B-6CNo Timer3AA
WavHello SoundBubView Deal3.5/, 60, 90Rechargeable
Bubzi Co Soothing Sleep OwlView Deal3.5/533.92.93.3C12B303AAA
Baby ShusherView Deal3.5/53.841.43.3A-1A15, 302AA
Cloud B Sleep SheepView Deal3/53.541.43.3B-8A-23, 452AA
Baby Einstein Sea Dreams SootherView Deal3/

Why Trust Us? 

We started testing and evaluating the features and benefits of sound machines for babies over six years ago. We dig through all the informational materials and user reviews on popular retail websites to find out which features require in-depth explanation and hands-on testing. This product category is unique because the person shopping for the device isn’t the primary user. Since your child’s sleep is precious, we spend hours testing these products before making our final recommendations.

Not only do we test and evaluate the products, but we also learn as much as we can about the benefits and potential disadvantages of using sound machines. I talked to Niki Barwick, Doctor of Audiology, about which sound profiles are best for masking external noise. She told me white noise settings are most likely to mask noise the best, but also suggested that not every baby perceives white noise as a calming tone. She also suggests avoiding sound profiles with thunder claps or chirping birds because, “Any abrupt or loud sound will probably cause a startle.”

This article outlines the potential advantages and disadvantages of using a sound machine to help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep longer.

How We Tested

We performed two audio tests to see how the sound machines we reviewed masked external noise and to check that they don’t have startling noises. To test the sound masking capabilities of each product, a reviewer listened to the white noise setting on one sound machine in our test lab, while another reviewer used a vacuum cleaner, blender or played music on a stereo, in the adjacent room. The sound machines were all set to transmit white noise at 75 dB for this test, which is sufficiently loud without harming an infant’s hearing. The reviewer inside the test lab then recorded each occurrence and volume level of any outside noises they heard. Our final grades were issued based on how well each sound machine masked those external noises.

We determined a sound quality grade by listening to the heartbeat sound profile from every sound machine. Our reviewers judged the sound quality of each product based on realism, the softness or soothing quality of the profile and whether they could hear any starling noises that jumped more than 10 decibels on our decibel meter.

During the testing process, we pressed all the buttons multiple times to make sure the product isn’t going to break in the first few weeks after you buy it. We made note of any durability issues in the individual product reviews.

How Much Does a Baby Sound Machine Cost? 

Simple sound machines with lullaby and nature profiles start in the $20 range, but for accompanying visual aids, expect to pay around $30. Sound machines that are integrated into a stuffed animal are a bit more expensive at around $40. The audio quality and sound masking capabilities of the cuddly stuffed animal sound machines aren’t on par with other products we tested, but you can remove the sound module if your child gets attached to the stuffed animal.

Important Features to Consider 

Image Projector and Nightlight
Projecting an image on a wall or ceiling in your nursery room helps calm your baby and gives them something to look at while they doze off. Image projectors also serve as nightlights, which allow you to check on your baby without turning the lights on and disturbing their sleep.

Sleep timers slowly wean your baby off the need to have calming noises during sleep. By letting the device turn off after a designated period of time, your baby is gradually exposed to normal environmental sounds while they sleep and decrease their reliance on the sound machine as they get older.

Power Options
If you plan to add a sound machine to your travel kit, consider a product that is powered by batteries. Some sound machines come with an AC adapter, and you should use that when possible, but when you want to use your sound machine in a place that doesn’t have a wall socket, like in the car or on a camping trip, battery-powered devices are essential. The best sound machines have both power options.

Sound Machine Mobile Apps 

The baby sound machines we tested are perfect for helping your child fall asleep – and stay asleep – in a home nursery or the car. However, if you forget to pack the sound machine for a road trip or you encounter a fussy moment while on the go, a sound machine mobile app is a great temporary replacement for the best baby sound machines we reviewed. Here are some of our favorite sound machine mobile apps.

White Noise Lite
This free sound machine app is available for Android, iOS and Amazon mobile devices. It has 40 sound profiles, including soothing nature sounds and a variety of other noises. You can also use this app to record customized sound profiles – for example, the noise from a park near your home. The paid version has more alarm settings and full stereo sound, but the Lite version still gives you access to a large library of free downloadable sounds.

Rain Rain
This free app has more than 25 sounds, including purring cats, thunderstorms and rain. It works on iOS and Android devices and includes a helpful sleep timer that you can set for up to 25 hours. Choose from the sound profiles included with the app, or build your own by combining nature and white-noise profiles. Rain Rain has a calming, pulsating effect that gently fades the volume of any profile up and down. This app plays in the background, allowing you to check a text message or an email without disturbing your infant’s nap.