Should Babies Sleep With A Night Light?

Sleep is a big issue for many families. Most of us want more than we are getting and a better quality snooze to boot. Babies and toddlers want that too, but they often find it hard to fall and stay asleep at night. Being alone in the dark makes many children feel anxious and a night light is a popular go-to solution for parents.

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Let’s consider the safety and use of night lights for babies and toddlers. Are they necessary? Do you really need one?

Do babies need a night light? Do they sleep better in the dark?

Babies’ sleep is not usually affected by light to begin with. They find comfort in the dark and feel safe because it reminds them of being in the womb.  After some time, they learn that light means day and dark means night and they should naturally sleep better in a darker room.

Most babies will not need a night light from day one and in fact some people argue that they should not sleep with one in their room. That being said, as your baby gets older and grows into a toddler they may begin to become sensitive to light when they sleep. At that point, you may choose to try a night light.

A night light may help your toddler with:

  • Anxiety and fear of the dark
  • Safety during the night, for example if they get out of bed and move around or for you to avoid trips when you check on them etc.
  • Staying in bed all night long. Some night lights have built in timers, colour changes and sounds that encourage toddlers to go back to sleep when they wake up before morning.

How dark should your baby’s room be at night?

Aim for the room to be as dark as possible to support a good night’s sleep for your baby. Some people find blackout curtains or blinds to be helpful. Each baby is different and will respond in their own way to light so play it by ear and adjust your set up as needed for your baby.

Related Post: How To Blackout Your Baby’s Room

What age should your child stop using a night light?

There is no exact age to stop using a night light because each child is different and they will be ready at their own pace. Talk to your child about the light and how they would feel about removing it from their room. Prepare them and when they are ready to try, give it a go. Remember, plenty of adults like night lights too and that is just fine. There are no rules about this.

toddler sleeping with a soft toy

Are night lights safe? Can they catch on fire?

Night lights are generally safe. One could technically catch on fire just like any other electrical appliance, but it is very unlikely so long as you follow these basic safety precautions:

  • Buy your night light from a reputable retailer.
  • Do not use a night light that is damaged.
  • Do not use a travel adaptor or converter with a night light. Make sure your plug is the correct one for your socket in the country you are in.
  • Check the night light and the socket area regularly for any scorch marks, sparks, warmth or buzzing noises. Stop using the light right away if anything looks unusual and consult your electrician as needed.
  • Register your night light with the manufacturer to make sure you receive any recall information as it arises.

For more night light safety tips click here.

What colour night light is best for babies and toddlers?

It is advantageous to use a warm light with yellow or red tones rather than a cool, blue or white light. A blue or white light can stop the sleep inducing hormone, melatonin to be released making it hard for your baby or toddler to fall and stay asleep. In contrast a warm light will have a smaller impact on the quality of sleep.

Night lights – Do’s and Don’ts

If you decide to purchase a night light here are some things to consider:

  • Avoid placing the night light too close to where your baby/toddler is sleeping.
  • Don’t assume your baby definitely needs a night light. Try other solutions first if they are having trouble settling down to sleep at night.
  • Make sure the night light is not too bright for the room as this may disturb your baby at night.

Should you let a toddler sleep with a light on?

If you decide against a night light, but your child still has some anxiety about sleeping in the dark, it is not wise to leave an overhead light or lamp on overnight when they are sleeping. The fact is that toddlers are more likely to wake up in a bright room and will have a lower quality of sleep. It is best to use a night light or no light at all.

Can you leave a night light on all night?

Yes, in most cases you can. Some night lights have built in timers and you can set them to work around your child’s sleep schedule. Others are triggered by the level of light and will automatically turn off in daylight hours or when your main lights are on. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and keep reading on for some additional safety tips.

Conclusion

Science tells us that no matter how old we are, people sleep better in a darkened place. Our children are people too (just little ones!) and of course we want them to get all the sleep they need. Conversely, it’s not easy for many children to be alone and stay asleep especially at night time. If a night light is what helps you all get enough sleep overall and you choose a safe, reliable model then there is no harm in using one.

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