To Night Light, or Not to Night Light ?

Updated on November 09, 2012
P.S. asks from Nashua, NH
22 answers

What has been your experience with using a night light for your toddler's room ? Do you think it is good or bad ?

Our 3 year old son does not have trouble getting to sleep, nor does he complain about being afraid of the dark. But what does sometimes happen is he will sometimes wake up during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep. When my wife or I try to comfort him he will sometimes say that he is "A little bit afraid of the dark". He does not mention this before falling asleep, only when he wakes up in the middle of the night. I'm guessing he's having dreams or nightmares, and since this is something new he is getting scared. So is the issue solved with a night light ? Which might reassure him that he is in his room, should he wake up from a dream. Or will the night light just cause problems that we're not considering ?

On an unrelated note - it's kind of funny how the site uses terms like "Liked by X number of Moms" -- Dads have questions too!

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So What Happened?

I was probably overanalyzing this, shouldn't be a big deal I guess. We already had a night light installed in our living room. I installed that one so I wouldn't step on the cat who sleeps in random spots in the living room if I needed to go downstairs during the night. So I just moved that light upstairs into his room. Now I have to get a new night light for the living room, either that or just never go down stairs at night

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answers from Missoula on

Don't overthink this.

Try the nightlight. Maybe it will help, maybe not. You can always remove it if it disrupts his sleep.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

They go through a period when they get scared of the dark. If you use a night light, then you have to deal with shadows. My daughter never used a night light until she was 3. My son wanted one a bit earlier. They do have nightmares starting around 2.5. I do think the night lights makes them feel better. it helped my daughter sleep better.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Houston on

Toddler??? I've got night lights all over my house. The bathrooms, the kitchen, the hallway, the laundry room........ It could be very comforting and no harm really.
Yeah, maybe I am afraid of the dark.......
Not in our bedroom though, it's pitch black in there.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Because of the layout of my house, I've always had night lights. My kids didn't necessarily want them in their rooms, but there was one in the hallway, one in the bathroom.

My daughter was older than 3, but she wanted a lava lamp in her room. After she fell asleep, I would turn it off.

No backlash, please, but my son has an awesome vintage Budweiser light in his room with a beautiful deer on it. He's 17 and likes turning it on at night when he's sleeping.

I always keep the light on over the stove at night. It's not about fear, but I want to be able to see if I get up in the night.

Your son is 3. I don't see a problem with getting him something that gently illuminates his room a bit. There are cute fake fish tanks with lights. Heck, this time of year, you can find a small strand of christmas lights that you can string over his bed, closet, dresser.....wherever you have a plug in.

Get him a little something so he doesn't have to fear the dark in any way.

At his age, if you are doing potty training, etc, you should have some night lights around for him to find the bathroom without being afraid. And for safety.

Best wishes.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

We used a night light.
It helped our son if he woke up and it helped us if we wanted to check on him (we could see him).
If the power went out, we used a glow stick.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think there is nothing wrong with trying a night light. If it works everyone sleeps better!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Well, it certainly wont' hurt to give the night light a go. Because if it's true that he's just a little afraid of the dark, that should help him overcome his fear.

Personally, I was exactly like this as a young child. I fell asleep quickly, but woke up shocked how dark and quiet everything had become and I laid afraid of even asking for comfort because the 'monster' might wake up too....oh, it was such a dilemma.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Lol... Highly unlikely will a nightlight fix him wanting to snuggle with mom & dad just a little longer. You could try it, but then its usually monsters/messy room/noises/pick something, anything they light on that will keep you there just a few minutes longer. Whether its snuggling, spraying monster spray around the room, or doing a show n tell that the scarf is not a snake... The time expenditure is roughly the same: until they're sleepy again.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We didn't use them until our kids were about four. Our son went through an "afraid of the dark" phase and we gave him a lava lamp to help. With our daughter, she kept bumping into things we she got up to go to the restroom. If he's doing fine without it, I'd just skip it. If you think it will help, then you can add it to the routine. Just remember there's no going back for a while once he's attached.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Noooooooooo! I believe that you don't give your kids anything they will come to rely on too much. Most night light kids I know "need" it. But it is really that mom and dad felt their baby needed it and they always had it or that they the child mentioned fear and it was given as a quick fix. I know some kids go through serious fears and anxiety, but if your child is able to be comforted by you or by himself, that's great. Don't give him something he will become attached to.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

It's a night light. No big deal. Whatever their reason is for wanting it, I don't see where it can do harm. If he is scared of the dark, then the nightlight aleviates some of those fears. If he needs to get up in the middle of the night for a bathroom visit, then he can see his way to and from the bathroom. I would much rather have a child have a night light and go to bed happy, then to force the kid to sleep in the dark and be afraid. Eventually he will grow out of needing one, but in the meantime, nightlights are great! And besides that, I still have one, for the reason I mentioned about the bathroom! I hate stubbing my toes, and the nightlight prevents that!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Hi P.-

Another idea is to get a Dream Lite. It's a stuffed animal with a night light inside. Your son can pick out which stuffed animal he likes, and he will have someone to cuddle if he wakes in the night. My 4 year old boy picked out the pink butterfly (go figure, right?) but it has solved all "I woke up and it's dark" problems. Good luck!
T. Y (SAHM of 5 m: 12, 11, 4, 3 and 11 months)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Okay so what we do with both of my kids, since they are Toddlers was:
they each have their own flashlight, to keep in bed with them.
If they wanna leave it on all night or forget to turn it off, no biggie.
Its just a flashlight. But they like it and it is useful for them.

Now per this age, as your child, even from 2 years old, their cognition and imagination changes and develops. HENCE, developmentally, they DO get "fears" of things and of nighttime and of the dark and of nighttime noises etc. Its normal. I did too, as a child. We all went through this, as children.

And yes, they can or do get literally "scared." But as an adult, for us, it may seem insignificant. But for a child, it is, real and literal.
But again, it is normal.
Even my 10 year old daughter, sometimes, gets scared at night or of the weather at night if it is more windy/rainy/thunderous at night. Normal.

And yes, they DO get nightmares.
But it is normal.
IF my kids have nightmares, ever since they were Toddlers, I encouraged them to tell me, and we talk about it, and I comfort them. I tell them even adults get those, too. But its not real, even if it is scary. Normal stuff. Its just dreams.

I never used night lights with my kids, but they have flashlights. Ones that they chose.

At times at night, when my kids were younger and scared at night... we'd go outside with their flashlights, look at the night and trees blowing in the wind, poke around in the yard, and then they can "see" what is making noise or making moving shadows at night etc. so that we could rationalize and explain it, to them. ie: the night time noises.
That would help.
But still, we cannot turn "off" a child's imagination or their developmentally changing cognition. Their sense of fiction/non-fiction is changing too... and their understanding of it. Normal. But it is still "abstract" for them.

Also, both my kids have always had "loveys" in bed with them. MANY loveys in fact. Its fine! I had tons of loveys too, stuffed animals and such, in my bed when I was a child. It makes sleeping and the bed, "cozy." And helps to make it feel, safer.

Your child, is going through a normal thing.
He is only 3.
And like I said, even my 10 year old daughter, may get afraid of nighttime noises/dark too. Still. My 6 year old too. But they as they get older, comprehend it better.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

My boys have night lights in their room, and I have one in the hallway and one in the bathroom. They aren't afraid of the dark, but if they have to get up at night to use the washroom I'd rather they didn't have to turn on the bright light. I find that by not turning on the bright light I can get up and go to the washroom without having to fully wake up, but if I turn on the bright light I wake up enough that I have a hard time falling back to sleep.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

aw poor kiddo...

mine was afraid of the dark. we always had a nightlight (or two or three, between toys that lit up, starry ceilings, regular old night lights, etc) when he was three and four was when it was the worst, it has gotten better. he had a turtle that lit up with stars (onto the ceiling) that he could turn on himself as needed, so he liked that a lot. when he was still in the "need it" stage, it was really pretty easy to grab it and put it in the suitcase for vacations or going to grandmas. no big deal. we didn't do sleepovers with "friends" (meaning not family) at that age, so that was never a problem.

another great thing about it is that if you need to visit him/check on him/comfort him in the night you can see your way around. so i like that a lot. he still has one regular plug in one (well, "regular" - but it changes between about four colors, so it's pretty cool too!) that we leave on all the time. he's six. the last time we went on vacation and stayed in a hotel we didn't take it and he didn't even mention it. again, no big deal.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

no night light.

I read somewhere it can contribute to nearsightedness. as my kids already have a genetic tendency, I took them out of their rooms that night. we do have one in the bathroom at the top of the stairs that barely gives any light so they don't stumble in the bathroom and we can see to get down the stairs.

a "lovey" will do just as much as a night light for any dream related issues. our solution was dream kisses. they come from mom (dad has magic dream tickles) and each kiss (or tickle) gives one good dream. we smother them and until they were 5 or 6 it gave them the "mind over matter" to have minimal nightmares (that they remembered or woke up for anyway).

if he hasn't had one, don't start the habit. my son (11) has a friend that can't sleep without one (a bright one). annoys my son to no end on sleepovers although he doesn't say anything to his friend. think about that - you have to have something in every hotel room, sleepover, trip to grandma's, etc.

good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

No night light.

Both of my boys went through a short stage where they said they were scared. Simply remind him that there's nothing to be afraid of. Tell him "If you think you see something, go turn on the light and check it out. I used to do that too, when I was your age. It always ended up being something silly, like a shirt in the closet, or the toybox. Then you can shut off the light and go to bed."

Teach him to beat his fears without a "crutch."

We put a night light in the bathroom. That's it. Both of my boys (now 10 and 11) are champion sleepers, and have always slept in the dark.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Buffalo on

umm... get him a lamp, with a simple push on button to go beside his bed, make sure the shade isn't flammable, and who cares if he lives it on all night.
glow in the dark stars or planets for his ceiling might work too, and a night light is never an issue, try leaving a light on outside his room? hallway or bathroom?and leave his door open

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

When my daughter was about four, we got one of those little turtle lights that put stars on the ceiling (the stars are pretty cool looking). It turns off after about half an hour. I showed my daughter how to turn it back on (just press a button) if she needed to. That worked well for her and I liked that most of the time she slept in darkness (which is supposed to promote better sleep). She's seven now and only uses the turtle sometimes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

I'm 38 and I still use a night light. As a child I was desperately afraid of the dark and I would have been traumatized if my parents hadn't "indulged" me in letting me have a night light. One of my daughters is especially afraid of the dark and always has been, while the other two go through phases. Since I don't ever want them to have to fear night time or their rooms, why would I ever refuse a night light?

Besides, I know plenty of adults who still use them in their bedrooms AND bathrooms. I have to or else pitch black triggers dizziness and migraines. There's nothing wrong with using them and they don't cause problems in the least.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from El Paso on

I think it could go either way. My daughter can't do without a nightlight, but she also can get spooked by the shadows it causes. So, it could make it better, but it could also make things worse, since it's a new thing for him. All the shadows it would create would be new and somewhat spooky for him. That said, you could always give it a shot (they're only a couple of bucks) and then keep it for the bathroom or hallway for later (getting up during the night to pee) if it doesn't work out.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We have a nite lite. We use a dim one or a colored bulb. It has helped DD to stay in bed especially since going to a toddler bed. When she goes to sleep, we leave the lamp on because she is currently afraid of the dark. I turn it off when I go to bed. I see no harm in giving him a light if he's afraid. Start there and see if that resolves it.

We have long had a santa nite lite in our bathroom (don't ask why it's there year round) and we leave the bathroom door open in case DD gets up in the night. Then she can see the hall to find our room or the potty.

A cute book you might want to check out is The Knight Who Was Afraid Of The Dark.

1 mom found this helpful
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