Cubby Nursery Awards 2024

We Asked 1,000 Parents to Tell Us What Sound Machine to Buy for The Nursery, and 2 Won Over All the Others

published Mar 26, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Parenting is hard, but discovering what baby essentials to buy shouldn’t be. If you’re looking for nursery ideas, you may be focused on pinning all the baby boy nursery ideas or baby girl nursery ideas you can find. But we know you’ve also got baby gear on the mind, like a sound machine. Sound machines can help create soothing sleep routines for babies, as well as block out noisy city or sibling sounds. We asked over 1,000 parents to tell us what sound machine they’d recommend to other parents, and there were two runaway winners!

Why You Should Trust Us

This is a best list that comes with real chops. Cubby is helmed by a small yet vibrant team of design-savvy parents who are unusually invested in finding the best products for life at home with kids, beginning with the nursery. Faith Durand (SVP of content at Apartment Therapy Media, two kids, pro pinner of all the things), Cambria Bold (executive editor of Cubby, two kids, hobby designer, avid product researcher), and Laura Schocker (chief content officer at Apartment Therapy Media, one kid and one on the way, small space/city living expert) have 40 years of digital editorial experience between them. They’ve already read about, researched, and purchased many of the baby products that you, as a soon-to-be parent, are wondering about right now. They’ll tell you exactly what you need to know about what to get. 

If they don’t know the answer, they know plenty of people to ask — fellow editors, parenting experts, designers, and Cubby readers — so you can be sure that these recommendations come from real-life experiences.

Most importantly, we don’t just “office test” these products (read: order a bunch and shake ’em around in our office “lab” with a fake baby doll) because that is helpful to approximately no one. The products we recommend here are ones we or fellow parents have actually purchased ourselves for our nursery and used for at least a few months (and sometimes way longer). The rave reviews are real.

How We Chose These Products

We asked readers (and parents!) of Apartment Therapy Media, which includes Cubby, Apartment Therapy, and The Kitchn, to tell us what sound machine they bought for their baby (if any), and why or why not they’d recommend it to other parents. We received over 1,000 responses to our survey. We took the top two recommended sound machines from this survey and then assessed our own firsthand experiences with the product. If they came strongly recommended by our survey parents and/or were personally used for a significant period of time (with positive results!) by one of our editors, it made it to this list!

Credit: hatch

The All-in-One Dream Machine: The Hatch Sound Machine

If you want an all-in-one product to serve as a sound machine, night-light, clock, and time-to-wake indicator, then the Hatch Rest 2nd Gen Dream Machine is for you. This beautiful machine has it all. In fact, 70% of parents in our survey who said they bought a sound machine bought a Hatch machine (both older and current generations) and were really happy with it. That’s a pretty good track record! Our survey parents most love the ability to control the machine remotely through the app, the large library of sounds, the dimmable color light system, and the schedule and routine capabilities

What Parents Said About the Hatch Sound Machine in Our Survey

“I recommend this to every parent I meet. Great feature in setting up programs and controlling from your phone. Perfect for setting bed and wake times as well as for quiet time.”

“I love this machine. I love that you can set different modes with combinations of light and sound and that you can change the light color. We used the red light at night during feedings because it was less rousing but had enough light to see with. Also, love that I can control the machine with my phone so I can set the white noise on or turn up the volume when the baby is fussing without having to physically go into the room, which might further disturb her.”

“We love the Hatch! The controls and options were awesome. You also must have a plug in. Batteries will make you crazy.”

“It is very easy to use and can be turned on and off remotely with a phone.  Now that [our son] is a toddler, we are starting to program it with lights as an OK to wake clock and we like the versatility.”

“Being able to control it from my phone and set favorite settings, in addition to all the options for light colors and brightness, and noise types and volume, are so handy.”

“10000% one of our best purchases.”

“I love that you can control it from the app if needed and the different sound and light settings.”

“It’s easy to program and includes a night-light and ‘OK to wake’ feature for when your baby is older.”

“We still use it with our 3-year-old. The ok to wake function is a lifesaver for us.”

“Yes! Does everything, easy to use, well worth the money.”

What Cubby Editors Say About the Hatch Sound Machine

Apartment Therapy’s chief content officer, Laura Schocker, bought a Hatch machine for her nursery. Here’s what she says about it: “This is a great night-light for the middle-of-the-night feedings/diaper changes, and the white noise is great. You can control it from your phone! And it doubles as an audio monitor if you need it.”

The Only Downside

A few parents noted that to get the most sound options (like lullabies, sleep meditations, and soundscapes), you need a subscription to the Hatch+ app, which costs $49.99 a year. Even without a subscription, though, you’ll still have access to 15 different sounds. A few comments also noted the machine was also slow to connect at times. 

Some parents shared they thought the machine was overkill. As one parent said: “I’d recommend something simpler. Personally I don’t think all the extra features were worth it.” While being able to control the machine through an app was a major plus for a lot of parents, others didn’t love that feature, preferring something more analog. (If that’s you, you may want to look at our second-place winner, the Dohm Classic Sound Machine. That’s up next!) 

Credit: Yogasleep

The Straightforward Sleep Aid: The Dohm Sound Machine

If you don’t want or need all the extra features of the Hatch Rest 2nd Gen Dream Machine, then we think you’ll love the Dohm Classic Sound Machine. It’s been around since 1962, and it continues to have a cult following because it set the standard for clean, clear white noise — not too loud, not too obnoxious, but just right. Our survey parents love its fan-based white noise and its years-long durability, with many parents saying they’ve had the same machine for upwards of a decade. (Cubby’s executive editor, Cambria Bold, falls into this camp!) It’s incredibly easy to use: Just flip the switch to turn it on, then twist the top of the machine for your desired volume and fan setting. 

What Parents Said About the Dohm Sound Machine in Our Survey

“It’s real white noise, and my baby sleeps at night because of it!”

“It’s very simple but produces the best sound in my opinion. We had it for many years before using it for our infant son.”

“Yes! We have two of them. Sound is not annoying, and it really shuts out outside noise.”

“LOVE! Have used this for decades myself and got one for both my kids’ rooms. They sleep great and will use this always! Lasts for years and years.”

“Absolutely. I loved the unfussy white noise of it, and the first one ran every night for seven years before it started losing some of its clarity.”

“I love it. The mechanical instead of digital sound makes all the difference!”

“It is easy to use, simple, beautiful design, and since it’s a real fan. It sounds robust and pleasant vs. a speaker sound of white noise.”

“Yes, yes, yes! Ours has been in constant use for over 6 years.”

“We have three of them in our house. One for each child and one for my spouse and I. Easy to use and adjust the level and pitch of the white noise.”

“The best. Adjustable volume from an analog fan is so much better than digital generated noise.”

What Cubby Editors Say About the Dohm Classic Sound Machine

Cubby’s executive editor, Cambria Bold, has written before about her love for this sound machine. Here’s an excerpt from her full review of the Dohm Classic Sound Machine

“A good white noise machine makes you forget it’s even there. It’s all soothing, swishing sound, soft enough to encourage sleep but loud enough to block all noise outside the bedroom door. Seven years ago I happened to buy the gold standard of white noise machines for my daughter’s room, although I didn’t know it at the time. Fast-forward to this year and this sound machine which was still working! — had become as much a part of our kids’ nighttime routine as brushing their teeth.”

Read her full review here: My Kids Fell Asleep to This Machine Every Night for a Good 7 Years

Stay tuned for more Cubby Nursery Award winners!