Do babies get scared of the dark? Should you use a nightlight projector with images of the stars and night sky? Will it help them sleep?
Sleep-deprived parents are often willing to buy whatever new product or device promises better sleep for their kids. But in reality, a nightlight isn't likely to help your baby or toddler sleep better. If they are having trouble falling asleep, or are waking up in the night, sleep training is the best option to help them sleep. Kids don't develop a fear of the dark until a minimum of 2.5 years old; typically not until they're old enough to articulate that they're scared of the dark.
Before that, they don't need a nightlight, or any light, at all. In fact, babies and toddlers will sleep better if their room is as dark as possible, for naps and bedtime. I recommend completely dark bedrooms, using black-out shades, such as these, or curtains like these. Complete darkness stimulates melatonin production (the natural sleepy hormone). Even a little light can suppress melatonin production, and the blue light emitted from screens (TV, phones, tablets) can disrupt sleep even more than light from lightbulbs.
If your child is struggling to get to sleep at night, cut off all screens two hours before bedtime, and make sure their bedroom is completely dark.
If your child is at least 2.5 years old, and has said they're afraid of the dark, you can introduce a night light. Make sure it's not too bright. We often think of blue as a calming color for sleep, but blue light is the most disruptive color for sleep because it stimulates the body and inhibits the body's production of melatonin. The colors that are best for sleep are red and orange (interestingly, the same colors in a sunset).
Choose a nightlight that is ...
Here are a few I like . . .
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Pediatric Sleep Consultant