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.