Whether you’re still in the overnight feedings stage or you have an older tot who needs a bit of light to encourage them to stay in their bed, a night-light is a must-have for parents worldwide. A good night-light designed specifically for use with children should be safe and functional, and it doesn’t hurt when they’re cute too.
Why buy a children’s night-light?
Night-lights are fantastic whether you’re a parent to an infant, toddler, or older child. Especially during the baby stage, overnight feedings are a routine part of life for quite a while. So, a soft light that allows you to see what you’re doing without disturbing your little one is critical. Meanwhile, once your child is a bit older and ready to sleep in their own bed, they might find a night-light comforting—especially if they have reservations about sleeping alone. And we can’t ignore that everyone benefits from soft lighting for those late-night bathroom runs.
What should you look for in a night-light?
- Safety: Anytime you’re buying products for children, safety should be your top concern. Always ensure that any gadget or toy you buy isn’t on any recall lists with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Likewise, modern night-lights that rely on LEDs should be cool to the touch, especially if they’re marketed as night-lights your child can keep in their bed. Also ensure that your preferred night-light has safety features to prevent overheating. Note that if you invest in a night-light that plays music or sounds, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended maximum sound output is 50 decibels.
- Color and Brightness: These days, many night-lights come with adjustable colors and brightness settings. This can even include toggle features to rotate through colors. As a general rule, you should avoid blue or green light settings for bedtime because these can delay sleep and impact natural sleep rhythms. Red lighting is considered the best option because it’s not known to impact our circadian rhythms. But don’t forget to look for brightness adjustments. Especially for younger babies where you’re attempting to build a sleep schedule, having a mostly dark room is preferred to a bright room that signals they should still be awake.
- Sounds, Music, and Smells: Children’s night-lights often come packed with add-on features that an adult might not think would matter. But white noise functions, lullabies, and even aromatherapy are all upgrades you can find. Some children struggle to sleep in a completely quiet room, so music or white noise can be a good distraction to help them unwind. Similarly, diffuser or aromatherapy features can be nice to create a calming environment. Again, make sure that if you’re using an aromatherapy-based night-light that it’s designed with safety features to prevent burns and fire, or to prevent little hands from accessing critical electrical components that could cause injury.
- Power: These days, night-lights can be battery-powered, USB rechargeable, or plug-in models. Regardless of the model, make sure that ports are secured and not easily accessible or that if traditional batteries are used, children can’t easily open the case.
- Design: There are so many options with night-lights, from traditional models that plug into walls or sit on tables to softer versions that can be in your child’s bed. The choice is ultimately yours. However, for infants up to 12 months of age, please follow the AAP’s safe sleep ABC guidelines—Alone, on their Back, and in the Crib. Never leave anything in your baby’s crib while they’re sleeping, including blankets, stuffed animals, crib bumpers, and yes, night-lights. While crib-safe night-lights can be attached to the railing on the exterior of the crib, leaving anything besides a fitted sheet on your child’s mattress inside the crib can pose a suffocation risk.
Should you gradually reduce exposure to a night-light?
Over time, night-lights can affect your child’s production of melatonin and negatively affect their sleep. This can lead to other health and behavioral issues. That’s why it’s best to reduce the exposure over time through dimming lights, moving them farther away, or using hallway lights until your child is comfortable sleeping without a night-light.
Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine and Night Light
The ultimate device in nighttime baby gear.
Pros: Unless you no longer have babies in your home, you know that the Hatch night-light and sleep machine is an award-winning solution that parents, baby experts, and everyone in-between are raving about. This Bluetooth-enabled device allows you to control settings remotely, meaning you don’t have to be in your child’s room to create the perfect light and color environment inside. This LED-powered night-light also includes a sound machine, time to rise alert, brightness and color controls, and a volume level. And it has the companion Hatch app that works on iPhones and Androids.
Cons: If you’re not a fan of fancy contraptions, you may find the functionality in this night-light a bit overwhelming, along with the associated price tag. And while this isn’t a deal-breaker, it relies on corded power versus USB recharging.
Bottom Line: Create a nighttime routine that sends your little ones off to dreamland with this high-tech night-light that doubles as a sound machine and morning alarm.
Moredig Night Light Projector
A more engaging night-light better suited for older tots.
Pros: If your little one has graduated from the gentle night-light stage, you might be ready to introduce them to something that’s more engaging. The Moredig night-light projector relies on 360-degree rotation, eight color changes, 12 songs, a timer, and two covers to create a soothing experience. You can program this projector to run anywhere from 5 to 500 minutes and adjust the music volume. And this pick runs on USB power.
Cons: While this pick runs on RGB LED lights, you may find that they’re far too bright to realistically lull anyone to sleep. And be forewarned that the included remote relies on three AAA batteries which are not included.
Bottom Line: This is a night-light that’s probably better suited for older children, given the boldness of the colors. Still, it’s quite engaging and offers a long programmable run time of up to 500 minutes.
GE Color-Changing LED Night Light
A simple night-light that doesn't require tech expertise to operate.
Pros: Not everyone wants to battle with a remote or app to operate a night-light. GE has created a familiar night-light with a twist. Their two-pack of plug-in night-lights supports color-changing functionality thanks to the three easy-to-control color modes through the physical button on the device. Plus, this pick automatically powers on and off from dusk to dawn, thanks to its built-in light-sensing technology.
Cons: While the operation is straightforward, you won’t have an option to dim the brightness. Plus, you’re limited to placement based on the location of available power outlets in your home.
Bottom Line: Sometimes, simpler is better. This two-pack is easy enough for people of all tech proficiency levels to operate and is a true “set it and forget it” device. However, a lack of a dimmer function could be a deal-breaker for some people.
Fortally Nebula Star Night Light Projector
A night-light perfect for your little space explorer.
Pros: If you know that your child is obsessed with space, this 360-degree rotation moon and star projector is a solid choice. With four LED bulbs, you can achieve 12 light-changing hues or opt for the steady warm white light if you prefer. Simple push-button controls, a budget-friendly price, and the option to power this device either through traditional AAA batteries or a USB connection make this a great option.
Cons: The modest price means you have less functionality at your fingertips. While effective as a night-light, you don’t have options such as dimming the lights or playing music or white noise.
Bottom Line: If you prefer a simple night-light that even a child could easily operate safely, this is a solid choice. The compact size makes it easy to place on a bedside table or drawer set. But the budget-friendly price means that you lose significant functionality compared to some of the premium options in our round-up.
LumiPets Puppy Dog Night Light
A fun way to display your child's personality and interests.
Pros: If you want a night-light that makes your child feel safe and comforted, the LumiPets animal-shaped night-lights are the way to go. These cuties rely on type C USB charging and are designed to be so easy to use that even toddlers can switch between the nine LED colors by simply tapping the lamp’s head. Plus, these have a battery capacity of 12 hours on a full charge—ensuring they’ll last through the night and then some. And the soft silicone texture and stay cool design ensure your little one can touch them safely.
Cons: While you do get brightness control, you won’t get white noise or music. Additionally, you can only switch between 15-, 30-, and 60-minute automatic shutoff run times.
Bottom Line: An adorable and soft-to-the-touch night-light is ideal for toddlers and older kids. Meanwhile, a long battery life, USB Type C charging, and simple operation make this a great kid-friendly pick.
It’s no secret that night-lights are a popular addition to a child’s room. From complex models that allow for remote Bluetooth operation to simple tap-to-change-color models that are truly kid-friendly, there’s no reason to interrupt bedtime because a little one is afraid of the dark.