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How to get the best use out of a night light?

Red night light

Should a night light be used in a child’s room?  If so, how bright should it be?  What color is best?  Where should it be placed?  I am often asked about using a night light in a child’s bedroom, if you have a young child you have more than likely have had the night light discussion.  It is a tricky one because while night lights have a good purpose when used appropriately, they can also be problematic.

As a rule of thumb, I recommend that a baby or young child’s room be completely dark without any light at all.  It is best for our bodies to sleep in a dark room.  The darkness keeps our melatonin levels elevated and allow us to sleep well.  I actually recommend that a child’s room be completely dark until he comes to you and tells you he is afraid of the dark or his room.  This typically happens around 3 years old, when a child’s imagination is really advancing.  Then a night light can have a lot of power to help alleviate fears, which is really what a night light should be for, to make a child feel more comfortable in his room.

A low lit red night light is best.   According to research, a red night light does not interfere as much with melatonin production as a blue light or a white light does.   Too bright of a night light can make it more difficult for a child to stay asleep.  When a child comes to a light state of sleep (which they do a few times each night) a bright night light can cause them to wake up completely.   This is also true of night lights that project light onto the walls or ceiling or have intermittent light.

Finally, place the light in a spot that it will not be directly shining into your child’s eyes when your child is laying down.   It will be less distracting for your child as well if it is not in direct sight.


Hope this is helpful information for your night light discussion and that your child is happy in his room and sleeping well.

About the author

Shannon Glenn

Shannon Glenn is the owner and founder of Sleep Well Children Consulting and a Certified Pediatric Sleep Specialist. She is dedicated to helping parents assist their children and babies in developing healthy sleep habits. With a B.A. in Psychology, Shannon has worked extensively with children and their families for over 15 years in a variety of settings.  She has been offering sleep solutions for over six years.  

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

Karianne Wanggaard

Sleep Well Sleep Specialists

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Working with Shannon, I went from 2-3 wake ups every night to 1 or 0. She aligned the plan with my preferred sleep cycle. She was always coaching, never judging. Shannon was great, I have referred MANY people to her! That's the best testament to her work that I can give.

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