Lots of parents assume that a night light is one of those baby essentials that every nursery requires. After all, a well-placed night light can reduce the fumbling usually associated with middle-of-the-night diaper changes and feedings. But is a night light distracting to your baby? Do you really need one? What kind of night light should you buy? Keep reading for our baby night light do’s and don’ts, as well as a list of our top 5 favorite baby night lights!
Baby Night Light Do’s and Don’ts
- DO place the light close the areas of the room that you’ll need to use at night, but DON’T place the light too close to your child’s sleeping area.
- DO ensure that the light is low-wattage and dim enough that it won’t disturb your child’s sleep.
- DON’T use a night light that casts cool, blue-toned light, but DO use one that casts warm, red- or yellow-toned light.
- DON’T assume you or your baby will need a night light; you might not!
- DO try a night light as your baby grows, if he suddenly develops nighttime fears or separation anxiety.
1. DO place the light near areas you’ll use, but DON’T place it too close to your child’s sleeping area.
When your baby is young, the night light is really more for you than for him; it can really help facilitate middle-of-the-night diaper changes and night feedings. So place the night light near the areas of your baby’s nursery that YOU will use, like the changing table or the glider. But be sure not to place it too close to your baby’s sleeping area, as even dim, soft light can be distracting for some babies and can interfere with sleep.
2. DO ensure the light is low-wattage and dim.
This probably goes without saying, but you don’t want your night light to be too bright! 4-7 watts is typical for most night lights. You’ll also want to be sure that the light itself is shaded and diffuse, so that your baby isn’t disturbed by any harsh glare.
3. DON’T use a light that has blue tones, but DO use one that casts warm red or yellow tones.
Fun fact: did you know that blue light is bad for sleep? It’s true! Blue light interferes with the body’s production of melatonin, a natural, sleep-inducing hormone. This is one huge reason why we never recommend keeping a TV in your child’s room, and why many experts advise that children should stop all screen time a few hours before bed. So avoid blue-toned night lights; instead, opt for night lights that give off warm, red- or yellow-toned light.
4. DON’T assume you and your baby need a night light.
It’s interesting – a lot of parents assume that a night light is necessary, but this isn’t always the case. For one thing, some babies really are distracted by night lights and have trouble falling asleep in a room that has any light at all (baby temperament has a lot to do with this). And if the light turns on and off by itself (when it senses daylight, for example, or when it senses motion), that might be doubly-distracting for your child. And don’t assume you need one, either; lots of parents have told us that leaving the nursery door cracked open and using the light from the hallway for diaper changes and feedings works just fine.
5. DO try a night light as your baby grows, especially if he develops nighttime fears.
You may find you can do without a night light at first, but as your baby grows, a night light might become useful. Some parents find, for instance, their children get anxious about being left alone in the dark as they grow older; this is probably natural nighttime fears mixed with some separation anxiety. A night light can really help in instances like this; it can provide a little reassurance and comfort in the middle of the night. Nighttime fears can become a real problem during the toddler years, too, so even if you manage without a nightlight for a while, don’t hesitate to try one out if your two-year old is suddenly afraid of the dark.
Our Top 5 Night Light Recommendations
This night light is super basic, but also super effective! It casts just enough diffuse light to help you find your way around for diaper changes and feedings, but not so much that it’ll make it hard for your baby to sleep. Just be sure to buy one in a warm color; we like the amber-colored one best.
The VAVA Night Light is a customizable light with a rechargeable battery that lasts 200 or 6 hours in dimmest or brightest settings, respectively. And, the bottom button disables touch control and boosts brightness by 30% for outdoor visibility, if you like to go camping and the like. What we really love is that you can touch the top for half a second to enter night light mode for breastfeeding at night, for example, or you can tap the logo twice to set a 1 hour timer to comfort your toddler to sleep. This way, your toddler has a night light as he goes to sleep, but it won’t wake him in the middle of the night.
This adorable little owl doubles as a night light and a lullaby player; it plays 10 different lullabies and projects a beautiful, soft starlight scene for a total of 30 minutes before automatically shutting off. This could work as a great bedtime routine tool; to signal to your baby that your routine is over and that it’s time to go to sleep, simply turn on this little plush owl. Note that some babies might find the starlight scene distracting; however, the projected image doesn’t move, so it should work for most babies. The added benefit here is that this little plush owl is portable; it runs on batteries, meaning you can easily move it around your home (from pack-n-play to crib, perhaps), or take it on the go. Best of all – by purchasing this Bubzi Co. product, you’re giving back! A percentage of every Bubzi Co. purchase is donated to Postpartum Support International, an organization that helps new moms look after their perinatal mental health.
To be clear, this might not make a good baby night light; the moving stars and multi-colored lights might prove too distracting. However, your toddler might really love it! This projector offers soft light that’ll keep your toddler feeling comfortable and secure, and it also projects a rotating star-and-moon scene that could be just the thing to keep an antsy toddler interested (and in bed!). If you have a jack-in-the-box toddler who is constantly popping out of bed or who finds bedtime boring, this nightlight might be a great choice. In addition, this could be another great bedtime routine ender – if you consistently end your routine by turning on the projector, it could send a strong signal to your toddler that it’s time to settle in and go to sleep.
Oh my GOSH, is this thing adorable! This portable little nightlight (another owl!) could work well for babies and for toddlers. It casts a nice warm glow, and it’s also small and portable, meaning it’ll travel well. What’s more, this light automatically shuts off after 15 minutes – but if your toddler wakes in the night and wants her night light on, she can simply press a button for another 15 minutes of light. Extra bonus – your toddler can carry this with her for middle-of-the-night trips to the potty! And you can easily move it around your baby’s room as needed.