Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: June 22, 2021
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Every parent knows that putting your toddler to bed can be one of the most difficult parts of the day. One of the tools that can help the bedtime process is a nightlight. Not only does the best nightlight for toddlers work to ease fears of the dark, but it can also help to prevent trips and falls for parents who want to check on their child during the night. For this reason, nightlights are a great addition to both bathrooms and stairwells as well as to children’s bedrooms.
Nightlights for toddlers and kids come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important to know what to look for in a nightlight when choosing one for your home. To help, we considered nightlight features such as the size and design, which can help make the light more friendly for small children. We also looked at how long the light will work for, and whether it has additional features such as Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone app so that it can be controlled remotely.
After tens of hours of research on the most popular nightlights, including poring through customer reviews and technical specifications, we came up with our list of the eight best nightlights for toddlers – they are highlighted in the table below. Continue reading for detailed reviews of each nightlight, complete with pros and cons. Our Buying Guide covers everything you need to know about nightlights, from how they can help your child fall asleep to how safe they are to leave on in your home to the features you might want when buying a new nightlight. Finally, we sum up our three overall favorite nightlights for toddlers on the market today.
If you’re looking for a single nightlight that has as many features as possible and allows you complete control over the light in your child’s room, it’s hard to beat this nightlight from Hatch Baby. The light is controlled by a smartphone app, which allows you to set everything from the timer to light and sound programs from either iOS or Android phones. In case you don’t want to use your phone or have issues with connectivity, there are also buttons on the bottom of the light.
Among the customizable settings are the color – the light is capable of a rainbow of colors – and the light brightness, which can be set via a slider on the app to give you more range than other nightlights. The light also has the ability to play music from your phone or to play white noise, although users wished the adjustable volume could be set quieter than it can currently go. One thing that users loved is the ability to set complex programs including brightness ramps and music changes at specific times, although these programs cannot be started a few minutes early if your bedtime changes on a given night.
Users found that the Bluetooth connection worked extremely reliably on this nightlight, but wished for Wi-Fi connectivity since you cannot control the light without getting out of bed and walking over to your child’s room. Hatch Baby offers a 30-day limited warranty although users report no durability issues with the light.
Why did it make our list?
Controlled by smartphone app for complex programming
If your child simply refuses to let go of his or her favorite toy when it comes time to bed, this plush nightlight from Bubzi Co can help. Designed to look like a friendly owl, this unique nightlight is as much a stuffed animal as it is a nightlight.
The light comes with a wide range of features designed to capture your child’s attention and to make it easy for you to use as a parent. The light automatically turns off 30 minutes after your child goes to sleep – it is activated by squeezing the toy – so you don’t have to worry about fire hazards in the night. However, note that this light won’t do you much good if you come in to check on your child in the middle of the night. The light also has a star projection mode that kids love.
On top of that, the light has a built-in speaker that is capable of playing 10 different lullabies. The volume is adjustable between five different levels and can be turned on and off independently of the light, which parents appreciated.
The thing that parents loved most of all is that this nightlight is easy to clean since the light unit itself can be removed from the stuffed animal. That means you can put the owl in the washing machine and replace the light when its dry. Plus, the nightlight comes with two straps so that you can either attach it to your child’s crib or take it with you during the day as a toy.
Why are we impressed?
Light turns off after 30 minutes
Doubles as a stuffed animal
Easy to clean since light is removable
Built-in speaker with 10 lullabies
What negatives must you be aware of?
Light won’t be on if you come back in the middle of the night
Parents wish music would stay on for less than 30 minutes
If star projections are what your child needs to relax and forget about the dark, this projection nightlight from Hontry is a great option beloved by parents.
Users found that the night sky projection is easy to get into focus on the ceiling, which makes it quick to set up this nightlight and move it around the bedroom. The stars also rotate around the ceiling – something that captures children’s attentions. Meanwhile, the motor inside is nearly silent, which parents who have used lower quality projection lights in the past appreciated.
Another nice feature of this nightlight is that it can grow with your child or be used as a reading light if you read to your kid before bed. The outer projection cover can be removed, leaving a small lamp. The color of the light can also be changed from white to red or green, which is great for encouraging melatonin production that will help your child fall asleep. The light can also be hung from a lanyard if you would like to keep it out of reach of a toddler or suspended over a crib.
The nightlight includes a timer function so that it can turn off after your child falls asleep, but it can also be left on all night if you are planning to check in later – the timer is adjustable up to 995 minutes, or about 16.5 hours. Parents also liked the simple four-button control on the base of the light, which doesn’t require fumbling through a smartphone app.
If you’re looking to bedazzle your kids with a star projection nightlight, this rotating light from Jozo is sure to keep them entertained before bed. The light is shaped like an orb and projects a night scene onto the ceiling and walls in a small room, with the pattern rotating around so that it is never static. Even better, the simple four-button controls on the base of the light also allow you to speed up or slow down the rotation rate, although parents note that you can hear the motor at higher speeds. The light can also be changed between different colors, including red and green color motifs so to promote melatonin production for a better night’s sleep and the ability to use multiple colors at once to keep your child interested in the light.
The light includes a timer function that is programmable up to a maximum of 95 minutes, allowing you to save on battery after your child falls asleep. Although the light can be powered either by four AAA batteries or by a USB cable, parents noted that the light runs through batteries extremely quickly even if it is not left on through the night.
Although a common concern about this light is durability since the top is relatively exposed, the light is made from child-safe plastic that can take a beating. Users found that the light will typically be fine if dropped from a night table. However, note that there is no warranty provided with the light.
This creative nightlight from Skip Hop packs a ton of features into a small and lightweight body that can sit next to your child’s bed or crib.
The owl-shaped design includes multiple lighting functions – the top of the unit has a projector light to illuminate the ceiling with stars, while the stomach of the owl glows to offer a more traditional nightlight effect. The wings of the owl also double as speakers, and the light comes with eight different preprogrammed melodies – four lullabies and four nature sounds – to soothe your child to sleep. Controls for the light can be found on the rear of the unit.
The light itself has a timer function, although parents were somewhat frustrated by how limited it was – the timer can be set to either 15, 30, 60, or 90 minutes, but a custom time cannot be set. Users did appreciate that the sound can be muted when the lights are on and that the volume is adjustable, although it is not possible to turn the sound on without the light also being on. In addition, parents found that the field of view of the projector is relatively narrow so that it is hard to place the light in the room so that the stars project over a crib or bed.
Although the unit comes with a one-year warranty, some customers found that the lights burned out within this timeframe and Skip Hop’s customer service did not return requests for the warranty to be fulfilled.
What stands out?
Owl-shaped design with multiple lights, including projector
This smartly designed nightlight from VAVA is designed for your kids themselves to use it, so it is better for small kids than toddlers. What sets this light apart from the competition is that it is not only touch sensitive, but fully controlled by touch – the light is designed in part to teach your children how to interact with technology. Users found that the touch sensitivity on the light is extremely responsive, making it easy to use – although it can take some getting used to the light to remember where to touch for different functions.
The brightness on this light is adjustable, but only between high and low using the power button on the bottom of the light. It also includes an SOS mode, which was perplexing to some users since having the light blink is not conducive to sleep. That said, users did like that the light could be switched between cool white and hard white colors, although a red light would be better for melatonin production.
The light itself is provided by LEDs, which give this light an extremely long battery lifespan of up to 80 hours in weak mode. The light is charged by USB, but VAVA recommends against keeping it plugged in while in use since this may damage the battery. One major downside to this light for parents with younger children is that the light does not have a timer, so it will be on all night for kids who want to fall asleep with the light because they are afraid of the dark.
What makes it stand out?
LED light source
Rechargeable by USB
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Brightness only adjustable between high, low, and SOS
Toddlers love this cat lamp, which mimics their favorite pet and has several lighting features designed to make it friendly for small children.
The lamp does not have a harsh exposed light, but rather glows from inside its center to provide a soft nightlight that won’t keep you or your child up late. The brightness of the light is also adjustable between a static mode and four dynamic modes, including breathing and fade modes that help to get your toddler into a rhythm of sleeping. The light is also highly color adjustable – the included remote control offers 16 different colors that you can choose between. The only issue that users found was that when the light is dropped (it is durable enough to withstand this) the color can switch randomly and will need to be reset.
The nightlight is powered by a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 15 hours. However, note that the light itself is designed to turn off after three hours without being squeezed, so it may not be on if you go to check on your child in the middle of the night. Parents did like that the light itself uses an LED in the center, which is further insulated by the silicone body, so that the light can be put inside a crib with your toddler without worrying about overheating causing a fire. Parents also loved that the silicone outer can be wiped down with a paper towel and soap as needed.
What are its best features?
Multiple brightness settings and 16 different colors
Silicone body is easy to clean
What could be improved?
Automatically shuts off after three hours with no timer option
This nightlight from LOFTER is similar in many ways to the light from NeoJoy, but comes at an incredible price for parents on a budget.
The light is very small at just 5” x 5” and weighs just six ounces, so it’s easy to find a spot for it anywhere in your child’s room. The wooden base does require something firm to stand on, however, so don’t expect to hang this light over a bed as you might with other nightlights. Although your child might not appreciate it, the nature-inspired mushroom design is intended to give your child’s environment a natural feel. Meanwhile, parents loved the BPA-free silicone lampshade, which is easy to wipe down as needed with a towel and soap.
The nightlight is capable of shining in 16 different colors and can be controlled with a remote control that looks something like an artist’s pallet. In addition, the light has four different brightness modes, including a mode that allows you to slowly shift between colors as well as one that allows the light to blink. Overall, parents found this light to be quite peaceful and relaxing, if not necessarily a great light for reading prior to bed.
Unlike the NeoJoy light, it is worth noting that this light needs to be plugged into a wall and should not be left in the cradle with a toddler given the risk of electrocution. However, it will not get hot thanks to the LED light at its center.
What are its best features?
BPA-free silicone lampshade is easy to clean
Capable of 16 different colors and comes with remote control
LED light at center
What could be improved?
Plugged in, so should not be kept in crib
No timer mode, must be shut off manually
Things to Consider
Now that you’ve learned more about our eight favorite nightlights on the market today, how do you choose between them to find the nightlight that is right for your child and your home? Moreover, why invest in a nightlight at all – will it actually make putting your child to bed any easier? In our Buying Guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about nightlights in order to choose the light that will make your nighttime ritual easier.
Create a whole new world for your child – the benefits of a nightlight
Although a nightlight may seem like a small addition to your child’s room, it can have a wide range of benefits.
The first and most important benefit for many parents is that it makes it easier for many toddlers to fall asleep. This is because fear of the dark is one of the main things that keeps toddlers away long past their bedtime – and keeps them from letting you leave them alone to go to sleep yourself. A nightlight provides just enough light that most toddlers will feel more comfortable with it on, but is not so bright that it will keep them awake.
Another advantage to having a nightlight is that these lights can help you navigate your house and your child’s room without having to turn the bright ceiling lights on if you get up in the middle of the night. For many parents with small children, having to get up in the middle of the night to check on the child is a reality. You don’t want to bang into furniture or trip on a toy in the room in the process, but you also don’t want to turn on the bright room lights that will likely wake up your child and that will make it harder for you to go back to sleep afterwards. In this case, a nightlight offers just enough light for you to see by without being overpowering.
The possibilities are limitless – types of nightlights for kids
When it comes to nightlights for kids, there are essentially four different types of lights: plug-in lights, projection lights, plush lights, and portable lights.
Plug-in lights, like the model from LOFTER, are simply lights that plug directly into a wall similar to how a lamp would. They tend to be more compact than other types of lights since they don’t require a battery compartment, and you also don’t have to worry about the battery running out in the night and leaving you in the dark if you go to check on your child.
Projection lights, like the lights from Hontry and Jozo, can wow a toddler and distract them from their fear of the dark by projecting an image onto the walls or ceilings of the child’s room. However, note that getting these images to come out clearly can take some adjusting of the distance between the light and the ceiling, which may require putting the light in an odd spot.
Plush lights, like the light from Bubzi Co, are a favorite among toddlers because they combine a nightlight with a stuffed animal – two things that are sure to help alleviate a child’s fear of the dark. Typically, these lights only turn on when the child squeezes them, which saves the battery but can limit their usefulness as a light if you are going to check on your toddler during the night.
Finally, portable lights are designed to be powered by batteries so that you can travel with them or move them around the house like you might a flashlight. Many nightlights that fall into the other categories are also battery-powered, but portable lights typically sit on a table similar to a lamp rather than in the crib or bed with your child.
How safe is a night light?
Nightlights are typically very safe, but there are some instances when extra caution needs to be taken to protect your child. One of the biggest concerns that many parents have about nightlights is that they will start a fire. In reality, this is rare – there are only about 10 nightlight-related fires each year. However, you can ensure that your nightlight won’t be responsible for a fire by keeping it out of the bed, where sheets and linens can heat up and catch fire, and avoid covering it with clothes or paper that can heat up over time.
Another concern is from poisoning from the materials inside the nightlight. Some nightlights use a toxic substance called methylene chloride inside their light, which is normally not an issue but can cause accidental poisoning if the nightlight cracks open. Thus, dispose of the light immediately if it breaks or cracks.
Finally, electric shock is a possibility, albeit an uncommon occurrence. Shocking is only likely if the nightlight gets wet, so don’t take your nightlight outside and expose it to weather and ensure that it is kept away from potential dripping ceilings or water spills in your child’s room.
Tips on helping your kid fall asleep
In addition to adding a nightlight to your child’s room, there are a number of steps you can take to help your toddler fall asleep quickly and without much fuss. The goal is to reduce mental activity prior to bed and to get your child to relax, so it is a good idea to set up a routine – such as taking a warm bath or reading a book. You can also provide them with a favorite toy, ideally one that is associated with bedtime, about an hour before bed and tuck them in with a blanket.
Other things you can do to help prepare your child for bedtime are to limit screen time in the hours before bed, since the light emissions from the screen can signal the brain to stay awake. Maintaining a consistent, comfortable temperature in the bedroom is also important. Finally, make sure that when you set a bedtime, you stick to it – changing the time your child goes to bed each night is a sure way to throw off their routine.
Features to consider while buying the best nightlight
Now that you know more about the benefits and types of nightlights, we’ll take a closer look at some of the features that differentiate nightlights and explain why they matter.
Most nightlights are not large, but size can be important depending on where you are planning to put the nightlight. For example, if you want to put the nightlight on a shelf, make sure that it is not too tall to fit on the shelf.
You may not think much about what a nightlight is made of, but the materials that go into these lights vary widely between models. For example, the NeoJoy and LOFTER lights are made of washable silicone, whereas the Vava and Jozo lights are made of child-safe plastic that is much less squishable. Think about the material when considering durability – a hard material is more likely to break if your child drops the light.
Brightness is extremely important in a nightlight – it needs to be bright enough to illuminate the room, but not so bright that it keeps you or your child awake. Because rooms, outside natural light, and times of the night vary, most of the lights that we reviewed offer multiple lighting modes that can be adjusted as needed. For even more control, consider a light like the model from Hatch Baby that allows you to adjust the brightness on a sliding scale and control the light remotely via a smartphone.
Light and color
The type of light that a nightlight uses can influence its price, durability, and safety. LED lights are the safest lights available since they don’t heat up and also last the longest on a single battery, but they tend to be more expensive than other types of lights. CFL and incandescent nightlights, on the other hand, use up more battery life and can heat up throughout the night, but are less expensive.
Some nightlights, and especially projector lights, come with lights of multiple colors. You can also find lights with different color modes, such as on the LOFTER light – which can change between 16 different colors. Changing colors can be one more way to relax your toddler and help them fall asleep.
Nearly all nightlights on the market today have either a daylight or motion sensor on them. Daylight sensors are great for lights that you want to be on the whole night and turn off automatically in the morning, while motion sensor lights are great if you expect to frequently check on your child in the middle of the night and only need the light to be on at that time.
In most cases, you don’t need the light to be on the whole night after you put your child to sleep. Lights like the Hatch Baby model include a timer function that allows you to set the light to turn off sometime after your child falls asleep to save battery.
Research has demonstrated that playing music for your child before bed can have a positive effect on brain development. Plus, music is one more way to relax your child and make it easier for them to fall asleep. While you could add speakers to your child’s room separately from the nightlight, some lights – like the light from Skip Hop – come with a built-in speaker and several included relaxing melodies designed to help soothe your child to sleep. Just be sure that the model that you choose allows you to control the volume and to turn the music on or off, since you may not want to play music every night.
Most nightlights are designed to function for seven to 10 years – far longer than your toddler is likely to need it to get to sleep. However, durability is usually correlated with price, so expect to pay more if you want your light to be a permanent fixture in your home.
In general, LED lights offer the most safety since they do not heat up like incandescent or CFC lights. However, it is important to remember to place your child’s nightlight somewhere where it will not be covered by materials that can heat up and catch fire, as well as to keep it away from water that could lead to an electric shock.
Warranties on nightlights are relatively short, in part because these products are relatively inexpensive. While some of the nightlights that we reviewed have no warranty at all, on the other end of the spectrum is a light like the one from Bubzi Co that comes with a lifetime warranty.
Recent research has found that some colors of light – specifically blue light, which is also included in white light – can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep. Therefore, red or even green lights are typically best for allowing your child to fall asleep, although these light colors can be hard to find on lamps that do not offer many color modes.
Night lights can be a helpful tool for getting young children to bed, but as kids age you may find that the light actually inhibits them from sleeping – in which case it is time to stop using a night light. This can be because the light itself prevents them from falling asleep – a dark environment is typically better for sleep – or because the light encourages them to stay up and play with their toys.
Although there are other methods for getting your child used to the dark, including talking through their fears and showing them that the dark is okay, a nightlight is one of the easiest methods to allow them to work through their fear on their own. Most children grow out of this fear of the dark within a few years or sooner.
The Bubzi Co Soothing Sleep Owl nightlight combines the best features of a plush stuffed animal with a nightlight, plus offers excellent features like a shut-off timer and a star projection mode.
The Hontry Nightlight is designed specifically for projecting stars above your child’s bed to keep them entertained and focused on anything but the dark, but also doubles as a reading light thanks to the removable cover.
We feel the Hatch Baby Rest Nightlight is the best nightlight for toddlers on the market today thanks to its smartphone app controller that allows fine adjustment of the brightness and sleep time, as well as its ability to play music through a built-in speaker.