There are so many products marketed to new and sleep-deprived parents that will supposedly help baby sleep through the night. A fancy nightlight is one of those products. You know what I'm talking about, you're picturing the cute owl white noise machine that projects stars on the ceiling, or the glowing stuffed animal to place next to baby at night, right?
In reality, babies are not instinctively afraid of the dark. This means you can save your money on the fancy nightlight! Your baby spends 9 months in a pretty dark and very loud environment (your womb). When they come out, they're most soothed by a similar environment. This is why we try to replicate that environment the best we can when creating a sleep environment for baby. The perfect sleep environment is dark, cool and has white noise.
The truth is, if your baby is struggling to sleep at night, it's likely not because of the lack of a nightlight. In fact, the nightlight might be a factor in why baby isn't sleeping.
When does baby need a nightlight?
Baby doesn't need a nightlight of any kind in her room until she expresses a fear of the dark, and some never do. Kids generally develop a fear of the dark around 2 years old, but again, some never do.
If your child has expressed a fear of the dark, don't hesitate to introduce a nightlight. These fears our children have are very real and we want to acknowledge them. When selecting a nightlight, you want to avoid ones that only have blue toned lights. Blue light (the same light that our electronics like our phones, TVs and computers emit) is very disruptive to sleep and should be completely avoided minimum 1 hour before sleep and during the night. In fact, blue light actually interferes with your body's ability to produce melatonin, the hormone that signals to your body that it's time to sleep.
Instead, keep the sunset in mind and look for a nightlight that has a reddish or orange color. Start with the light on the lowest setting and work up from there if your child needs it to be a little brighter. You generally want to avoid the brighter settings as any bright light, regardless of color, can disrupt your child's ability to fall asleep.
How to introduce a nightlight:
Choose a nightlight that is easily dimmable
Select a red or orange nightlight.
Nothing stimulating - no projections, movement, songs, changing colors, etc.
Place the nightlight across the room from your child, not in or right near their bed where it can be a distraction and can be played with.
Nightlights I recommend
We love our LumiPets bear. By "we" I mean my son adores this thing and carries it around with him. I actually didn't love it at first because I wanted one that had more of an orange/red nightlight, and the orange on this is too yellow. So we use the solid red and it's just fine. This nightlight has tons of crazy color cycle settings and timers, so let your toddler explore and play with those, but keep it on solid red and plugged in all night.
Battery powered allows kiddo to take this around the house to play with. We've used it to light up blanket forts and it's totally fun.
Awesome toy to keep toddler distracted during diaper changes and, weirdly, the cover is machine washable.
Squishy and soft material
Red and orangish light
Remote controlled to easily change colors and dim light
Battery only lasts one hour before you have to recharge it. As long as you leave it plugged in all night you're good.
On that note, the charging cord that comes with it is crazy short, and only a USB.
Tons of unnecessary settings. We don't want the colors to change or cycle off after a set amount of time, but it's super fun to entertain a toddler. Just leave it on red or orange all night, dim the light, and you're set!
This is my all time favorite nightlight and white noise machine. It lives in our master bedroom, not my son's room, because the white noise isn't quite loud enough to have as his regular white noise. But this is such a good travel nightlight and white noise machine in one that it's 100% worth any cons.
Plugs directly into the wall
Small and easy to travel with
Color is completely customizeable
Non-looping white noise built in - I recommend the attic fan
Dimmable night light
Easy to control from an app right on your phone
Sometimes there are connection issues to your app
You may have to reset white noise and light settings after unplugging. It's easy to navigate so this isn't a big deal.
Speaker is loud enough when placed close to infant or toddler, but if outlet is across the room it's likely just a little too quiet.
The Rest combines nightlight, sound machine, and time-to-rise alert in one easy-to-use device that you can control from your phone. Customize color, brightness, sound, and volume level. You can't beat a Hatch as far as a nightlight goes, but I don't love the white noise on the Hatch so we don't own one.