Should You Use a Baby Night Light?
Does your little one need a night light? And if so, which are the best ones for babies? Here's what you need to know.
Shopping for your baby's nursery can be a lot of fun. One item that some parents buy because it's readily available is a baby night light. Other parents, however, aren't sure whether putting a night light in their child's nursery is a good idea. Should you get a baby night light? And if so, which are the best ones for babies?
Arguments Against Using a Night Light
An infant's circadian rhythm, or body clock, needs to set properly to let a baby start sleeping less during the day and more at night. Environmental cues, such as sunlight, affect sleep patterns. "I recommend that parents don't use a night light in their child's bedroom," says Diana Julian, a Family Sleep Institute-certified child sleep consultant and the founder of Big Sky Lullaby. "It's critical to help a baby distinguish night from day and sleep from wake, and the best way to do this is by controlling light and darkness."
Keeping a light on in your baby's room may result in a less restful sleep for your little one. "When an environment is lighted, melatonin production is inhibited. Melatonin helps us go to sleep, stay asleep and wake up well rested," says Krista Guenther, an infant and child sleep consultant and the founder of Sleeperific, a children's sleep consulting firm. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleep environment is cool, quiet and dark.
Arguments For Using a Night Light
You might have an easier time checking on your baby with a night light's soft illumination. "Mom and Dad need to see what they're doing," says Guenther. Plus, it's easier for you to return to sleep (and find your bed without stubbing your toes) after being exposed to dim lighting as opposed to a harsh overhead light.
Some babies might seem calmer with a night light on, and having a dim light in the nursery also allows your baby to get some visual stimulation when he's awake in the crib. That means he may be able to entertain himself for a while by watching the mobile or taking in the view of the room.
Top 10 Baby Night Lights
Ready to take the plunge? "It's important to choose a night light that isn't particularly bright or that uses a low-wattage bulb," says Guenther. If possible, check the lighting effect in a dark room to make an accurate assessment:
- Summer Infant Elephant Slumber Buddies
This night light in a cute, cuddly elephant design projects stars onto the walls and ceiling. It plays soft music and nature sounds and has an automatic shut-off.
- Onaroo Night Owl Portable
This portable night light in a friendly owl design provides LED lighting and doesn't get hot. It stays on all night when in the base and shuts off after 30 minutes when in use outside the base.
- MagicMIL Night Light with Temperature Display
This stylish night light shaped like an egg tells you the temperature in the nursery while giving the room a soft glow. It changes color from blue to green to orange to red depending on room temperature.
- Safety 1st Plug-in LED Night Light
This inexpensive night light might be basic, but it does the job. It automatically turns on when the room is dark.
- Cloud B Twinkles to Go Octo
This portable bubbly octopus night light projects stars or underwater images. It's designed to go with you to illuminate the backseat of a car or to make your baby feel more at home in a hotel room. It has a 45-minute automatic shutoff.
- Spot Lite Soft Lite Despicable Me
This soft character light is plug-free and portable. Pressing it activates a soft yellow glow that automatically shuts off in 10 minutes.
- Platinum Night Light 2-in-1 Lamp
This plug-free night light gives off a soft glow. A removable inner tube becomes a flashlight.
- Dreambaby Auto Sensor LED Night Light
This basic plug-in night light works well in a baby's room, but it can go in any room of your house or be used to illuminate dark hallways or stairways.
- Enhance Color Changing Children's LED Night Lamp Light
This night light can give off a soft white glow for a baby's room or can cycle through 256 colors that children and teens enjoy.
- Claessens Kids Kid'Sleep Moon Sleep Trainer Clock
This sleep-trainer clock has four levels of brightness, so you can use it as a night light for a baby. Toddlers use this cute, bunny-themed clock to let them know if it's still too early to get up. When the bunny wakes up and the sun rises, it's time.
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Laura Agadoni is a parenting writer and mom whose articles appear in various publications such as Modern Mom, The Penny Hoarder, Tom's of Maine, Global Post and Livestrong.