Best Baby Sound Machines of 2018

Billy Bommer ·
Audio & Travel Writer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

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 Overall
Munchkin Nursery Projector and Sound System
The Munchkin baby sound machine has 10 soothing sound profiles and projects three dreamy images on a wall or ceiling in your nursery. The voice activation mode is a unique and helpful feature too.
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Best Value
Big Red Rooster BRRC129
The Big Red Rooster BRRC129 is a great low-cost sound machine for babies. It has six sound profiles and the compact and durable design make it easy to stow away for travel.
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Best Portable
WaveHello SoundBub
The SoundBub is an ultra-compact sound machine for babies with a durable and chew-safe design. It has a rechargeable battery and doubles as a Bluetooth speaker.
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Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Pricing
Sound
Features
Design
Noise Masking
Number of Sounds
Sound Quality
Continuous Play
Nightlight/Projector
Timer Duration (minutes)
Battery Power
Portable
AC Adapter
$18.49 Amazon Marketplace
4.3 5 5 2.7
A+
10
A
15, 30, 60
No Battery Operation
$19.99 Wal-Mart
5 3.7 3.4 5
B
6
C+
15, 30, 60
3AA
$19.99 buybuy BABY
4.5 4 3.4 5
A-
6
B+
15, 30, 60
4AA
$11.39 Target
5 3.4 4.2 3.3
B-
6
C
No Timer
3AA
$21.11 Amazon Marketplace
4.2 2.9 3.4 3.5
C
3
B-
30, 60, 90
Rechargeable
$34.95 Amazon Marketplace
3 3.9 2.9 3.3
C
12
B
30
3AAA
$31.49 Sears
3.8 4 1.4 3.3
A-
1
A
15, 30
2AA
$21.99 Wal-Mart
3.5 4 1.4 3.3
B-
8
A-
23, 45
2AA
$24.29 Amazon Warehouse
3.3 3.4 4.7 1
B-
6
C
25
4C
Best Overall
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.
Pros
  • Good sound selection
  • Helpful visual aids
  • Automatic voice activation
Cons
  • Not battery powered
  • Expensive
  • Not portable
$28.37Amazon
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Best Value
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.
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Compact and durable design
  • Optional battery power
Cons
  • No visual aids
  • Subpar sound quality
  • No voice activation
$19.99Amazon
Read the full review
Best Portable
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.
Pros
  • Compact and durable design
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Bluetooth connectivity
Cons
  • Only three sound profiles
  • Limited timer options
  • No visual aids
US$29.99Amazon
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Best Visual Aid
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.
Pros
  • Fun visual stimulation
Cons
  • Lacks continuous play feature
Amazon
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Best Stuffed Animal
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.
Pros
  • Cuddly stuffed animal with soothing sounds
Cons
  • Only runs on batteries
Amazon
Read the full review

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.

Timer
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.


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