Multiple night time feedings and check-ins are a reality for parents of newborns. The use of a softly-lit night light will keep you from tripping in the nursery, or unnecessarily waking your sleeping baby by having to turn on the overhead light.
We tested nearly three dozen different night lights over the course of more than 30 hours of research and testing. We tested night lights from different major manufacturers, putting them through real-world tests including how well they lit a completely dark 175-square foot room, while speaking to certified sleep experts and scouring reviews on Amazon and other retailers. If I were buying a night light for me and my baby today, I’d buy the Himalayan Salt Lamp by Levoit because it offers just the right amount of light, a dimmable control, a sturdy wood base, and multiple lamp sizes.
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who should buy a night light?
Parents of newborns have to go into the baby’s room multiple times during the night and will do anything to get the baby back to sleep as soon as possible. There’s the night time feedings, diaper changes, and the ever-present parental pull to take one more peek. Parents will want a gentle light in the nursery to clear the way so they won’t trip or wake their sleeping baby.
It’s not for the baby, though; most babies aren’t afraid of the dark. Typically children won’t have nightmares, or be afraid of monsters under the bed, until 2 years and older.
Is a night light a must-have nursery item? The sleep experts that we talked to, agree that a dark room is best for a nursery; however, they also agree that parents need to see what they are doing in the baby’s room. It’s up to you. That said, we suggest using a night light with an auto shut-off feature.
It’s important to establish sleep patterns early on in the babies life and some parents are worried about disrupting their baby’s sleep cycle. “Our circadian rhythm (a fancy name for our body clocks) responds primarily to light and dark. Your baby’s circadian rhythm is still developing over these first few months,” wrote Andrea Strang, Certified Gentle Sleep Coach and a Birth and Postpartum Doula at SleepBaby.com. In the article, Strang recommends to “keep your baby’s room dark and quiet at night to help promote sleep. Use dim (or ambient) lighting when tending to your baby’s needs at night. Use only the minimum amount you need to see what you’re doing. A small flashlight, night light, or the light from your phone would work great.”
The sleep experts that we talked to, agree that a dark room is best for a nursery; however, they also agree that parents need to see what they are doing in the baby’s room.
We talked with Alanna McGinn, Founder and Senior Sleep Consultant of goodnightsleepsite.com, and busy mom of three, who agrees to leave the choice of a night light up to the parents.
“We all sleep better in a darker environment,” said McGinn. “Darkness is what cues our brain to release our natural hormone melatonin, which prepares our body to sleep. That being said many parents like to include a dim night light so that they are able to see what is going on in the nursery when checking on their child.”
She cautions, “but if a night light is interfering with sleep, whether it’s because the environment is too light, or your child is playing too long because they can see all their toys, then it’s time to turn it off.”
We also spoke with Kim West, a licensed clinical social worker, author of the book Good Night, Sleep Tight, and mother of two. She’s known to her clients as “The Sleep Lady.” West confirmed our findings and recommends, “dim night lights in nurseries are mainly for the parents who will be attending to their baby during the night.”
The parents I spoke to agreed they want some light in the room so they can see when the need comes to go to the crib.
A safe night light is paramount. Safety isn’t something you may think of when buying a simple night light, however, it’s important to be aware of a few key items. First, make sure the light doesn’t get too hot.
“Keep night lights away from drapes or bedding where they could start a fire. Buy only cool night lights that do not get hot” says HealthyChildren.org, a website from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Another safety reminder: newborns shouldn’t have anything in the crib with them while they are sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics says to keep all soft objects out of the crib, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says “bare is best” when it comes to items in the crib. Because of this, we set our criteria for the best night light to be used outside the crib, out of reach of the baby. While doing our research, we found some night lights recalled due to long cords, so we chose not to test any that had cords that would hang from a wall.
Both sleep experts we spoke to warned us away from blue lights, saying “I would recommend staying away from night lights that include blue LED lights. This suppresses our melatonin and turns the sleep switch off. A night light with a white light of no more than 4-to-7 watts is fine,” McGinn says. She gives a tip in an article on BabyPost.com to use a regular bulb instead of LED lights, while West recommends a particular light bulb that “helps screen out blue light.”
What to Look For
A good night light shouldn’t cost a lot of money, however, there are a ton of options to discover. There’s more than just those classic models that plug into the wall socket.
Yet it’s worth the time to know what separates a good night light from a bad night light: things like safety, product quality, light brightness, ease of use, cord vs. battery, longevity, and as always, price.
It’s easy to get confused and even overwhelmed with all the added bonus features on night lights in the market today. Things like plush casing, music, sound machines, and even room temperature readouts. The additions can generally be ignored: they aren’t necessities to lighting the room at night enough for the parent to see.
We determined that a night light that relies solely on batteries wouldn’t fall into the good category for the simple reason that the parent will have to unscrew that bottom with one of those teeny, tiny screwdrivers to get to the battery compartment and replace the batteries. Can you even imagine having to do this in the middle of the night? This is more work than necessary for a night light—and who can find a set of batteries when you need it anyway? Unfortunately, this crosses most night lights off our list. But because so many night lights on the market are battery operated (for safety reasons) we have included the best ones in the also great category below.
The LED feature is what also makes these lights safe to the touch. They don’t heat like a traditional bulb.
A good night light should have a bulb that is readily available in stores and easy to replace. We found that all of our top contenders use LED lights. “LED lighting can be more efficient, durable, versatile and longer lasting,” according to the Energy Star website. The site also explains that “LEDs typically do not ‘burn out’ or fail. Instead, they experience lumen depreciation, where the amount of light produced decreases.” Simply put, this means that the light should last a long time.
The LED feature is what also makes these lights safe to the touch. They don’t heat like a traditional bulb. (With the rapid decrease in price for LED bulbs in general, it’s likely you’ll be replacing all your household lights with LEDs in the next few years. Might as well start in the nursery!)
Finally: Is it functional and cute? After looking at tons of night lights, we can honestly say we’ve seen some really ugly ones. The goal is to add to the ambiance of the room you plan to spend a majority of your time in, not regret your own decor.
We considered music as many night lights on the market have this feature, but feel while great to have, it’s not a necessity and usually increases the price. The addition of music would require additional product features such as volume control and a timer. In an age when nearly every gadget can play or stream music, we don’t see the need for a night light that does it, too.
How we tested
There are hundreds of different night lights. Some big, some small, some regular—and lots and lots of owls. It seems owls are a trend right now (which is okay, we love owls).
In total, I reviewed 32 different night lights in a variety of categories: plush animals, night lights that plug into the socket, those that project on the ceiling, some that hang on a wall, those that you can carry around, and ones that don’t look like a night light at all. Using the criteria for good and great night lights, I narrowed the field to seven top contenders to conduct more research. After looking through product websites, scouring customer reviews, and matching the products against our criteria list, the list was narrowed to just five to test in real life.
- Rest Night Light by Hatch Baby
- Himalayan Salt Lamp by Levoit
- The Twilight Constellation Turtle by Cloud B
- Light My Way Portable Night Light by Munchkin
- Aurora Projection LED Night Light by SOAIY
We put all five night lights through a test of night time use over a period of one week (using the favorite for an additional two weeks.) We took one light each night into my children’s bedroom and turned it on in complete darkness. We determined if it was bright enough (or too bright), how easy it was to operate, and if it was attractive in the room. Then I read a bedtime story, tucked the kids in, and left the room. An hour later I went back to the room to see if the light was still on and how the children were faring. Three of the five lights that we tested have automatic shutoffs between 20-60 minutes. Only two have the ability to stay lit all night; something we deem critical in a nursery night light.
The Himalayan Salt Lamp with wood accent base comes in three different models, varying in weight.
All three lamps offer the same features and benefits including a one-year warranty card and three included light bulbs. Please note: Himalayan Salt Lamps should be unique in overall shape and size indicating their authenticity.
If you are looking for a more sleek line, Levoit has released their Elegance Series featuring a stainless steel base and includes the Kyra, Elora, and Aurora lamps in their respective sizes.
After three solid weeks of testing, I’m confident to report that this Himalayan Salt Lamp is the one to buy, because it stays on all night, uses a touch dimmer, has a warm dim glow, is beautiful, and is a fair price.
Seeing that it plugs into the wall, this light stays on for 8-10 hours, which we’ve determined is absolutely critical in a night light for a nursery. There will be no tripping or having to turn on an overhead light with this night light.
The Himalayan Salt Lamp comes with a beautiful wood base that plugs into a standard electrical outlet. This cord can be easily tucked behind a dresser or used with a cord concealer for safety. Given the length of the cord at 72 inches, we feel this pick is better for an infant nursery than for a toddler’s bedroom (scroll down for our toddler pick). We would like to note, this model does not use an LED light bulb, but given the density of the salt rock, the lamp does not generate any heat.
We will also note that given its size and heaviness, as your child grows and becomes more mobile, this will likely need to be replaced with a portable night light option, like the Twilight Constellation Turtle.
The light on the Himalayan Salt Lamp is dim enough to suit the desire to keep the room dark for baby, but bright enough to satisfy a parent’s need to see enough to feed the baby. When we tested this light in complete darkness, I could still see all the objects in the room and could maneuver around with ease, yet it never felt too bright. I loved thinking that I would be able to feed the baby without it completely waking up and not being able to get back to sleep.
The price is admittedly a little steep, but we love the gift packaging, the high quality of the lamp as well as the base, and the availability of a dimmer. When you consider not having to purchase batteries, it makes this the most economical of the top contenders.
We also like the fact that it comes with a One Year Warranty Card to ensure good working order for your new purchase. A handful of critical reviewers complained about the base of the night light not working upon arrival, but it seems this has been remedied promptly by the company.
There is one thing that isn’t great about the Himalayan Salt Lamp: it has tiny screws on the bottom of the lamp that must be removed to change the lightbulb. It’s not the end of the world—once you get the hang of it. Each of the lamps sold by Levoit requires C7 E12 15W bulbs. You do receive three blubs with each purchase which makes us totally willing to deal with the little screws.
who else likes it?
gave a thorough product review in September 2016 which inspired our initial consideration of this product. He applauds the overall design by saying, “Overall the salt lamp has a pretty interesting look — each one is supposedly unique in shape and look and I can see why, and has a nice glow to it when plugged in”.of Techaeris
Amy Marquardt of Mama the Fox reviewed her lamp in October 2016 and said, “I have truly been sold on the beauty and calming effect of my Levoit Himalayan Crystal Salt Lamp. I have placed mine on my night stand to take advantage of the relaxing glow while winding down for the night. The dimmer control is very convenient and easy to use with a simple tap of the finger. I am able to have the light bright while we are starting our night time routine and slowly dim it as the night goes on. I can leave it on the dimmest setting and use it my night light.”
On Amazon, the Himalayan Salt Lamp by Levoit has a score of 4.8 out of 5, with over 300 reviews. One customer says, “This lamp is beautiful and I have not had any issue with the light dimmer, I really like the touch design a lot. The packaging it arrived in was very secure, and yes it is heavy as described. The brightness settings are great. Our baby sleeps in our room and I keep the lamp on all night on a darker setting (but not even all the way dimmed) to provide a little bit of light when we get up with her in the night. My husband swears he’s been sleeping better since we’ve started using the lamp, maybe it’s the nice warm light while he’s falling asleep.”
We also love
Twilight Constellation Turtle by Cloud B
There is a valid reason this adorable night light has over 3000 reviews with a 4.5 star rating. The ONLY reason we didn't choose it as our top pick is that it doesn't stay on for the entire night. Other than that, we love the music, we love the color options, we love the portability, and we love how adorable it is. This is one of the most popular registry items we have ever seen and we absolutely understand why.
Rest Night Light by Hatch Baby
The Rest Night Light is designed to help parents create the perfect sleep environment and has proved to be an all-in-one sleep solution. The unit acts as a night light, sound machine, and ok-to-wake alert system. You can customize color, brightness, sound, and volume all from the convenience of the app making those late night feedings a breeze. Customer service is also a joy to work with should any issues arise making this our favorite pick for the price.
Munchkin Light My Way Night Light
While we ultimately landed on the Twilight Turtle as our favorite portable nightlight, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge how good the Munchkin Light My Way Night Light is. It was an immediate favorite for many reasons; it is priced exceptionally well, lightweight, and has a handle so young children can easily carry it with them anywhere in your home. The reasons we didn't choose this night light: the on/off button is located on the bottom and it requires batteries which we can be a hassle in the middle of the night. If you decide to go with the Munchkin Light My Way Night Light, though, we can assure you that you’ll be happy with it. It’s adorable and will last throughout your baby’s childhood years.
Best for toddlers
SOAIY Aurora Projection LED Night Light
We wanted to include something fun for the older kiddos in our lives. This beautiful LED projection displays a soft hue of changing lights perfect for any toddler room or nursery. The dome can be removed for a more vibrant light show display. With auto shutoff after one hour, this is the perfect sleep companion. There's even an auxiliary cable to plug in your favorite subtle tunes. The biggest customer complaint, though we didn't experience it during our testing, is the sound of the motor when the rotation mode is engaged. Other than that, we are super excited about this affordable find.
We considered these alternatives from manufacturers, but can’t recommend them.
- Boon Glo Night Light—This night light is highly ranked all over the web. It didn’t make it to the testing phase for our guide because many reviews said the balls are like glow in the dark toys that don’t retain the light long enough. Plus, at $54 it’s a little steep for a night light.
- Projectables LED Plug-In Night Light—These night lights project an image onto the ceiling and do light up the room enough to see at night. For older kids, there are cute pictures like the sea or a favorite cartoon character. The main drawback is that they need to plug directly into an outlet and be positioned exactly to get the image on the ceiling where the child can see it properly.
- Summer Infant Slumber Babies—We only reviewed one stuffed animal-type night light and the Cloud B received better reviews, and is a great night light.
- PDXD Kids Honey Bee—While this night light gets good reviews, it has a long cord that dangles from the night light on the wall. Many resources we found warn to stay away from dangling cords in a child’s room.
- Plug-in LED Night Light Lamp—There are several night lights like this brand. They just plug in the wall and light a small area. While they’re great for a bathroom, or a hallway, we felt they aren’t what a new parent is looking for in a nursery night light due to the lack of light and where the plug is on the wall.
Care, Use, Maintenance, and Repair
There are a few best practices for keeping your Himalayan Salt Lamp clean and in good working order. The instruction manual says you can use a clean dry cloth to rid the lamp of dust and particles. It is stated in the instruction manual to never submerge the lamp in water or expose to direct humidity. It is also recommended to place the lamp on a cloth or coaster to absorb any moisture it may produce in response to your environmental conditions.
- Alana McGinn, Should I Use a night light in My Child’s Room?, BabyPost.com
- Andrea Strang, 8 Strategies to Improve Infant Sleep Naturally, SleepLady.com
- Email interview with Alanna McGinn, Founder and Senior Sleep Consultant, GoodNightSleepSite.com, 2014
- Email interview with Kim West, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, SleepLady.com, 2014
- Make Baby’s Room Safe, HealthyChildren.com, 2013
- AAP Expands Guidelines for Infant Sleep Safety and SIDS Risk Reduction, HealthyChildren.org
- Safe Sleep Poster: Bedding, Pillows, Safety, and More, OnSafety Blog of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
- IKEA Reannounces and Expands Recall of Children’s Wall Mounted Lamps Due to Strangulation Hazard, IKEA.com, April 29, 2014
- Learn About LEDs, EnergyStar.gov
- Himalayan Salt Lamp, Levoit.com
- Best Night Lights for Kids, AlphaMom.com
- Email with Sophia Senderovich, StreamLine, Inc., 2014
- Jason Hull, Vintage Camera Nightlight - Ansco Cadet II w/flash, Flickr.com, November 12, 2011