7 Best Kids' Night Lights for a Restful Night's Sleep
Night lights have been around for nearly a century, and they aren’t just for calming kids’ nighttime scaries. When you first bring baby home, you’ll be feeding and changing your newborn around the clock. That’s tough enough on your sleep schedule, but switching on a bright light to take care of business late at night is not only disorienting, it can disrupt your entire sleep cycle. Enter: night lights for kids, which illuminate the room with a soft, gentle glow to let you see what you’re doing without straining your eyes in the night.
Fast forward a few years, and you might find that your little one is stumbling around—either to go potty, grab a drink of water or climb into your bed if they’re feeling afraid of the dark. Thankfully, monsters in the closet or under the bed are no match for a comforting kids’ night light. Keep reading for expert advice on what to look for in a kids night light, as well as some of our favorite picks on the market.
There are tons of kids’ night lights on the market today, but before segueing into our recommendations for the best of the best, we wanted to offer some quick tips for navigating night light purchases from Aubrie DeBear, PsyD, a pediatric sleep consultant, doctor of clinical and forensic psychology and soon-to-be mom of three.
“As a sleep consultant, I recommend complete darkness for the best, most restful sleep,” explains DeBear. “Bright lights are more disruptive than helpful, and artificial lights can interfere with the natural production of melatonin. So, I always recommend staying away from night lights for sleep, especially for babies!” That being said, when the toddler years come around, fears associated with the dark can materialize, and if your child asks for a night light to help assuage their concerns, it could very well be a good idea.
Just be sure you’re not using a night light as a crutch to fix the problem temporarily. “Again, if a child is afraid of the dark and asks for a night light, then go for it!” says DeBear. “But figuring out the root of the fear and talking through worries and concerns are usually more helpful next steps because it helps us to better understand what our kids are actually fearful of (maybe it’s a show they’ve watched or book they’ve read).” This goes for separation anxiety, as well, which can crop a lot sooner than the nighttime fears—sometimes in repeated episodes after they reach 9 months of age, says DeBear. Fostering a consistent wind-down ritual (a bath, bedtime story, lullaby, rocking, etc.) and keeping their environment mellow and nocturnal usually goes a long way to pacifying separation anxiety in babies, though. In other words, approach the necessity for a night light with caution.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind if you want to add a kids’ night light to their bedtime routine. The night light should be:
- Safe. Safety is always important, but especially “if your child is out of the crib,” cautions DeBear. “The entire room—and house—should be toddler-proofed now that they have full access.” So when it comes to a night light, you’ll definitely want to keep cords (which present the risk of strangulation, or injury if pulled down) and heat in mind. The best options are cordless and wireless, as well as temperature-neutral to the touch.
- Conducive to sleep. When DeBear meets with new parents who want better, more substantial sleep, she’s quick to say that “newborns will sleep (and wake) regardless of whether there’s a nightlight, but it can really interfere with parents getting those restful chunks of sleep when possible.” Understandably, for those exhausting, sleep-deprived first few months, she recommends getting a portable night light that can be tapped on, offering soothing luminance when it’s needed (like during nighttime feeds or diaper changes) and turned off when it’s not.
- Well-positioned: The “point of the nightlight is to provide some illumination for a child who might be afraid of the dark, so we don’t want it to be somewhere that would actually wake them out of a sleep cycle,” says DeBear, That means it shouldn’t be placed/positioned anywhere that it would be shining directly into their eyes or rousing them from a sound sleep.
- Sense-calming (not stimulating). Red and dark yellow bulbs that don’t disrupt our natural melatonin production (the hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycles) are best, while blue and green light are extremely disruptive, notes DeBear. And you’ll want to “keep the light dim, because when any of us are in light sleep and transitioning into a new sleep cycle, we don’t want lights pulling us out of that transition.”
Should you buy a night light projector?
If the night light is being used to allay fears of the dark, it “should not be the focal point of the room and should not add stimulation to the bedtime process,” notes DeBear. She recommends refraining from twinkly lights or stars that are projected onto the ceiling, because the distraction/stimulation can keep your little one awake even longer, or even worse, “kids can fixate on what they see in the dark, and shadows can cause even more distress or worry.”
On the other hand, a great 2-in-1 product that combines a soft, non-jarring glow with white/brown noise to “keep distracting noises out of the room so your little one can stay asleep” can be game changing.
While DeBear isn’t convinced that kids’ night lights are always “the best final answer,” she does think they can be a bright idea if your child is asking for one and wants to give it a try! We’ve rounded up some of our favorites to align with her pediatric sleep best practices. Whether you need one to help you maneuver in the middle of the night or to relax your little rugrat if they’re resisting some shut-eye, these picks are cute, innovative and sleep-supportive. Your entire family is about to get the best rest ever—in style, of course!
Although DeBear isn’t a huge proponent of night lights for babies, she does recommend the VAVA Baby Night Light for their sleep-deprived parents. With its clever design and innovative features, this night light is a must-have for stressful diaper changes and late-night feedings when time just seems to blur (what day is it again?). If baby is still sleeping in your room, the VAVA’s soft, soothing glow helps create a calming ambiance that gently nudges them off to sleep. Its intuitive touch control lets you adjust brightness levels effortlessly, so you’re not left feeling stunned when you want to steal a few winks between wakeups. And that built-in timer function is a life-saver, automatically turning off the light after 60 minutes so you don’t have to interrupt your slumber (short as it may be!).
Dimensions: 3.66'' (L) x 3.66'' (W) x 4.72'' (H) | Weight: 0.55 lbs. | Power source: Rechargeable battery
- 100 percent toy-grade materials
- “Sun mode” provides the most desirable soft yellow light for both infant and adult sleep
- Playful LED colors can be used during the day (and can be mesmerizing for babies starting to recognize color)
- Limited battery life
- Some parents say it’s much tinier than they expected
- Blue lights may flash in standby mode
As a mom herself, DeBear notes she’s always enjoyed choosing something in her own aesthetic and tailoring it to her childrens’ needs. So, yes, you can definitely do a cute plug-in with a whimsical ceramic face plate, but if that’s not your vibe, “just pick one that you like—as far as what fits in the room—and buy a red or dark yellow bulb” for better sleep support. That’s what we love about the Casper Sleep Glow Night Light. It’s designed with a focus on simplicity and elegance, seamlessly integrating into any modern home decor. The gentle backlit glow creates a soothing ambiance, ensuring a peaceful and calming atmosphere for both littles and adults alike.
Dimensions: 3’’ (L) x 1’’ (W) x 3’’ (H) | Weight: 0.28 lbs. | Power source: Outlet plug-in
- Energy-efficient sensor turns the light on when the room gets dark
- “Night owl mode” is motion sensored (great if you’re running to baby’s nursery for a middle-of-the-night feed and need a softly-lit path)
- Comes in a pack of two (one for bedroom, one for the hall)
- Only turns off when the room is brightly lit or if you unplug—so it’s on all night
- 30-day risk free trial available through Casper website only
These delightful lamps serve as charming bedroom decor pieces, but they also emit a gentle glow that can be calming without overpowering your toddler’s sleep environment. With the option to hang them up or leave them standing, these wooden creations add a dose of creativity, style and whimsy to the room. We’re all for items that can jumpstart nightly conversations between parents and their minis, especially if separation anxiety has become troublesome. You can use your little one’s night light—be it a cute and classic punch buggy like this one or an adorable woodland creature—as inspiration for bedtime stories sprung from their own imaginations.
Dimensions: 8” (L) x 2” (W) x 4” (H) | Weight: N/A | Power source: Cord plug-in
- Design can dress up shelves, dressers and play areas beyond its functionality as a night light
- Comes with a remote control to dim the light and trigger the automatic shut-off
- 100 percent natural pine wood is strong and durable
Night lights have come a long way since the plastic facade plug-ins popular in the 90s and early aughts—and we’re here for it! DeBear says she’s used Hatch Rest products with her own children, and we’re a bunch of Hatch loyalists in The Bump offices too. The Hatch Rest 2nd Generation Nightlight is the ultimate tool for parents in hot pursuit of a consistent, reliable sleep routine for their kiddos, since this innovative design combines a night light, sound machine and sleep trainer all-in-one. The gentle glow and calming sounds create a serene environment that signals it’s time for sleep, and the built-in sleep trainer helps teach children when it’s time to stay in bed and when it’s okay to wake. “I do recommend Hatch for families who want to use a nightlight and/or sound machine because it can be set to a timer, the light and noise can be adjusted easily and parents have control over the settings from their phone,” explains DeBear.
Dimensions: 4’’ (L) x 4” (W) x 6.3’’ (H) | Weight: 1 lb. | Power source: Cord plug-in
- Variety of white noise options help drown out external noise and create a relaxing ambiance for better sleep
- Can adjust settings through the app without disturbing child’s slumber
- App interface may require a learning curve for some users
- Stable WiFi connection is needed to use the smart technology
If you love the idea of a sleep habit-helping smart night light at a more affordable price, the Frida Baby 3-in-1 Sound Machine, Sleep Trainer and Nightlight is a great alternative. This multifaceted device features an impressive collection of calming sounds including gentle lullabies, white noise and nature-forward melodies that lull your babe into a peaceful slumber. Meanwhile, the soft, sunny glow of the nightlight keeps them feeling safe and secure. There are three warm glow levels that you can choose from, along with a blackout mode that can keep the room completely dark. Once you sync your phone with the cube, you can set the time and even play your own sleep sounds through the Bluetooth speaker.
Dimensions: 4.3’’ (L) x 5’’ (W) x 8’’ (H) | Weight: 1.3 lbs. | Power source: Cord plug-in
- Can customize the volume, sound options and timer settings to suit your little’s sleep preferences
- Intuitive design highlights easy-to-use buttons and controls that are super parent-friendly
- Sleek and compact design (plus 3-in-1 functionality) makes it travel-ready
- Some parents say the sounds can skew a bit loud
- Because it isn’t paired with an app, you can’t track your preferred settings
- Buttons can be finicky/stick
If you haven’t gotten acquainted with LumiPets yet, then allow us to enlighten you! The brand’s hero products were specifically designed with toddlers in mind to extinguish fears of the dark and make bedtime a breeze. With its soft and comforting glow, the frosty friend creates a soothing ambiance that not only helps toddlers feel secure and relaxed in the moment, it also provides reassurance and safety throughout the night—in case they wake up from a bad dream or night terror.
DeBear says to approach this “sleep buddy” with caution; you don’t want to create a situation where your child is completely reliant on lights to sleep at night and can’t sleep if they don’t have their LumiPet right next to them. But if it tempers their worries and you aren’t finding them playing around with their companion at night, then go for it. Durable construction and energy-efficient LED technology means this glowy glider will last for a long time, so if it works wonders with one of your children, you can try it out with their younger siblings too.
Dimensions: 6’’ (L) x 5’’ (W) x 6’’ (H) | Weight: 8 oz. | Power source: Batteries
- Made from child-safe materials with no sharp edges or small parts
- Timer has three options for an auto-shutoff (15, 30 or 60 minutes)
- Since it’s designed to be cuddled like a stuffed animal, it can be disruptive if a toddler plays with it at night or the light keeps them up
- Nine color modes can cause sensory overload
Have a toddler or young preschooler who’s just gotten the hang of nighttime potty trips? They might feel a whole lot more confident if they had a trusty lantern within arm’s reach to light the way when nature calls. This super cute take-along night light exudes a soft and gentle glow that’s comforting wherever your little one takes it—the compact size and lightweight construction don’t hurt, either. But our beary favorite part has to be the simple one-touch (via a huge button) operation, which makes it a breeze to use. The convenient 30-minute auto-off timer also helps to save battery life and provide just the right amount of light needed for quick strolls to the kitchen to grab their water bottle or trips to the bathroom for midnight tinkles. It slowly dims to let your darling soon-to-be dreamer fall asleep at their own pace.
Dimensions: 5.5’’ (L) x 3.1’’ (W) x 6.8’’ (H) | Weight: 2.2 lbs. | Power source: Batteries
- Easy-grab handle and cord-free design
- Cute, friendly bear face (with sleeping eyes to encourage little ones to go back to sleep once they’ve woken up at night)
- Stay-cool LED light won’t get hot
- The light through the blue bear can prove disruptive if it’s on the whole night
- Three AAA batteries are required (and not included)
These days, there are so many toys, stuffed animals and sleep solutions marketed as “comfort items” for young children that it can be a real challenge choosing what among them are the best—the real deal when it comes to calming their nerves and promoting the best, healthiest sleep patterns possible. To streamline your purchasing decisions with kids’ night lights, we do the bulk of the research for you, so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through online retailers. We considered size, portability, light color, sound offerings, price and, most importantly, safety of each luminous contender and compared notes with a pediatric sleep expert. We also read user reviews to get the lowdown on how these night lights work for families, never considering anything less than an average four-star rating.
Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.
Aubrie DeBear, PsyD is pediatric sleep consultant, doctor of clinical & forensic psychology and a mom of two little ones. As a sleep consultant, she loves working with families to encourage health and wellness that provide the most successful foundation for children. To DeBear, sleep is the key to wellbeing, and a parent and child’s wellbeing is important to her.