How to Use a Nightlight for Toddlers and Preschoolers

17+ months

Jul 19, 2022

Is your child afraid of the dark?

I’ve always said, “The darker the room, the better the sleep.”

But, what about when your child requests a nightlight?

In this video and blog post, we are going to talk about introducing nightlights to your toddler without disrupting their nighttime sleep!

As a mother to two daughters, aged five and seven, as well as a sleep consultant, I let my daughters use a nightlight.

If it were up to them, they would have all the lights on except that I am confident that it would disturb their sleep. They’ve been using a nightlight since they were about three and four years old.

When should I introduce a nightlight?

When it comes to introducing a nightlight, I recommend starting around age three when ‘nighttime’ fears begin to pop up in your child’s head. Even with that recommendation, I still want a dark room that encourages sleep. I understand that being afraid of the dark is a part of childhood because I remember having a nightlight in my room growing up.

What type of nightlight should you buy? When shopping for a nightlight, avoid white, blue, or any type of harsh light. We want to actually go towards what’s called amber light. You could dim a lamp really low, or use the red setting on the Hatch Clock.

If you’ve been inside of my sleep programs, you know that we use the color red on the Hatch for nighttime—it’s part of our overall routine. Red is time for bed, and I love that nighttime cue.

In our home, we actually use the GE sleep light nightlight. I liked this light because it is an amber color, and there are two levels of intensity. We turn it to the lowest intensity for our girls.

What color nightlight should I use?

I like to think about all of the colors on the light spectrum! Red is proven to be the least intrusive in your child’s sleep. Other colors, especially bright lights like blue, can be filtered through closed eyelids and signal that it’s time to wake up.

We don’t want our children waking up in the middle of the night, seeing a bright light, and thinking it’s time to wake up. Amber, orange, and warm red tones will not impede your child’s sleep.

Where should I place my nightlight?

Now that you know what color light is best for your child, let’s talk about the placement within their room. I don’t know what your child’s room space is like, but in our family, we try to put the nightlight out of the direct line of vision. I avoid putting the nightlight right in my daughters’ faces even if they change positions while sleeping so that it won’t wake them in the middle of the night.

Do you have younger children? For safety reasons, if your toddler is still in a crib, my rule is nothing within three feet of your crib. I think this is a good rule for toddlers and preschoolers too.

How to introduce a Nightlight in Your Bedtime Routine

The first time you introduce a nightlight, it’s best to have your child involved! Once you bring home a nightlight (or order online), let them hold it. Take it over to the outlet and help them plug it into the wall.

Now they will feel ownership of their nightlight. Depending on the style, you can make it your child’s job to turn on the nightlight each night. The first evening with the nightlight, they may not fall asleep as quickly. But after a few days, the newness will wear off and it will become a part of your bedtime routine.

Is your nightlight disturbing your child’s sleep?

If your child is falling asleep quickly and feeling more secure from their fear of the dark, then you are on the right track! But, if your child is now waking up more frequently, calling out more, and waking up early, then I would suggest turning the intensity down. Or, if that isn’t an option or working, talk to them about how they don’t need a nightlight and perhaps need a stuffed animal instead to feel more secure.

Some kids will still need encouragement at nighttime no matter what! If you are struggling with a bedtime routine that requires you to come back multiple times to coax your child to sleep, we can help!

We have both toddler and preschool sleep training classes. These courses are designed for situations just like this, where I’m teaching you step-by-step how to give your child confidence that they can sleep in their bed all night long without help.

Check out our online sleep training courses here!

We want to be your partner in helping make sure that sleep is still a thing as your child grows and changes!

Sweet dreams. See you next time.



When to use a nightlight for your child's room | Little Z Sleep

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