The toddler night light debate! Does my toddler need a night light? Finding the Perfect Balance Between Sleep and Comfort in 2024.

by | Mar 9, 2024 | Top tips

Parenting is a whirlwind of decisions, big and small.

One recurring debate among parents revolves around the use of a toddler night light. While some worry about disrupting their little one’s sleep patterns with artificial light, others see night lights as a comforting companion for bedtime and during the night.

Let’s take a deeper look, exploring the science behind light’s impact on sleep, how night lights can soothe fears, and why using a toddler night light with a red glow might be a game-changer for your little one.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and I receive a commission if you visit a link and buy something on my recommendation. Purchasing via an affiliate link doesn’t cost you any extra, and I only recommend products and services I trust and it doesn’t influence what I promote. All opinions are my own.

Light’s Role in Sleep

Our bodies are governed by our internal clocks, known as circadian rhythms. These rhythms dictate when we feel sleepy or alert, and light is really important for this to function efficiently! When the sun shines bright, our bodies know it’s time to wake for the day. But come evening, as darkness falls, our body gears up for sleep mode and starts to produce melatonin, the sleepy hormone.

However, in today’s world, artificial light sources like the TV, iPad and yes, night lights, can throw off this natural rhythm. Too much of the blue light emitted from screens can confuse our bodies, making it harder to drift off, especially for kids.

A Toddler Nightlight for Comfort and Security

It can happen, just like that. Boom. “I don’t want to go to bed Mummy, there are monsters in my room”, or ghosts, or scary creatures, or just the darkness in itself.

Is your child scared of the dark?

Your child’s fear can also seemingly come out of nowhere. One day they are fine, the next they’re not. Nighttime fears are common and they can have a big impact on your child’s sleep.

Most kids overcome their nighttime fears with some support, however you will find some adults who are afraid of the dark too. It’s called nyctophobia. The irrational fear of the dark is part of a group of anxiety disorders. Don’t worry though, this ‘phase’ is incredibly common and in most cases they will have outgrown it by adolescence.

What’s the best Toddler Night Light?

A dim nightlight can help children who are scared of the dark as they can help them make sense of what’s going on at night when they wake and see that there’s nothing to be worried about.

Ideally the nightlight should be on the warmer end of the light spectrum, think reds and oranges rather than cooler colours such as white or blue.

These Little Belle nightlights are awesome for kiddies with a fear of the dark (developed by a Mum who was in the process of helping her own little one).

On the Little Belle site, use the code childsleepspecialist for a 10% discount!

As a FYI my best budget friendly nightlight: Shnuggle and all-in-one option is the Hatch. This product is an all in one nightlight, sound machine and toddler clock – so whilst it’s a premium price, if you’re looking to buy all 3 separately then this makes more sense!

scared of the dark

You can read more about nighttime fears and anxieties in my blog post here.

Research on Red Light

Now, let’s talk about red light. Studies have shown that unlike its blue-hued counterpart, red light doesn’t mess with melatonin production as much. So, if you’re worried about disrupting your child’s sleep, switching to a gentle, red-hued night light could be a game-changer. It allows for the comfort without the compromise of affecting sleep so much.

Finding Balance

So, what’s a parent to do? It’s all about finding that sweet spot between sleep and comfort. While the science is clear on the potential pitfalls of artificial light at bedtime, we can’t ignore the emotional needs of our child when they’re really struggling with switching off and feeling safe at night. If a night light helps your toddler feel safe and secure, it’s worth considering.

But here’s the catch: not all night lights are created equal. Opt for a dim, red-hued light to minimise the disruption to your child’s sleep while still providing that sense of security. And hey, while you’re at it, throw in some extra sleep hygiene practices like a soothing bedtime routine with my flashcards and trying to be screen-free in the 1 hour up to bedtime.

Toddler night light

What to do?!

In the great debate over night lights for toddlers, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Just like whether your family leaves the door open or closed at night. It’s about finding what works best for your family. Whether you’re on Team Night Light or prefer to keep things pitch black, the goal is the same: helping your little one feel safe, secure, and ready for a restful night’s sleep.

Can a Toddler Night Light Help a Fear of the Dark?

If your little one is expressing fears then encourage them to talk (during daytime hours) about what’s going on for them at night. Can they explain the anxiety they feel? Can they tell you what it is that’s making them scared of the dark? For younger children with less verbal ability can they point to anything in their room that they’d like you to take away?

In daylight, things don’t feel as bad. We can then address the issues and reaffirm that monsters only live in story books and on the TV.

Try to keep a calming, consistent bedtime routine. Let’s not change things up too much. Consistency and routine can really help provide a comfort blanket for kids to recognise what comes next. No curve balls, it’s the same. Try to continue with the bedtime routine in their own bedroom too.

bedtime flashcards for bedtime battles

Consider using my flashcards to maintain the bedtime consistency and buy in their involvement too.

Can a toddler night light also be a toddler clock?

wifi colour changing lightbulb is a great alternative to a gro-clock. See my handy video guide below.

I’ve got a whole blog post dedicated to the merits of toddler clocks here!

Get in touch!

Got a little one who is scared of the dark? Not settling at bedtime? Tried my tips but still experiencing issues? Need advice tailored to you? Please get in touch – I’m here to help.

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Hi, I’m Gemma, your sleep consultant

I am a certified baby and child sleep specialist who works with families all over the world.

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