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A positive association with bedtime and the dark is important for kids of all ages, in order to form healthy habits and expectations for sleep. Parents devote a great deal of time and energy into creating the ideal conditions for bedtime, which begins as soon as you bring your newborn home, adapts as you learn their changing sleep patterns during infancy, and extends into their preschool years.
Night lights have long demonstrated their value in promoting childhood sleep and navigating parenthood; whether it’s preserving babies’ natural sleep cycle as parents tend to their round-the-clock care, or providing safety and comfort for older children when fears of the dark creep in.
Our friends at MyLight know this all too well, and it’s why they developed their own innovative, customisable night light back in 2009, which has become wildly popular among families in Australia and overseas. In this article, they share how night lights can help your child form a healthy relationship with bedtime and sleep.
Minimises sleep disruption in your baby
Many parents are under the impression that any light source will disrupt their baby’s slumber, so they opt to have no light at all when putting them to bed. While this will suffice for newborns who are familiar with the darkness of the womb, the absence of visual cues may not be helpful as they grow and their sleep patterns change. It’s why the introduction of a night light with a gentle ambient light is advisable - even from birth - to create a sense of familiarity in their environment. A glimmer of light will also help infants find and reach for their comfort object during the night.
The purpose of a night light is not to directly make your baby more sleepy (if only that was possible!), but rather, ensure that the light source is not interfering with your baby’s production of melatonin, which helps to control their sleep-wake cycles. Look for a quality night light that has red light functionality, which is proven to preserve melatonin production and increase the chances of them staying asleep for longer.
Promotes safe practices
A dilemma exists for parents in creating the conditions for a peaceful, solitary sleep in the nursery while simultaneously monitoring their baby’s physical wellbeing and safety. As a worst case scenario, well-meaning parents may avoid checking in on their baby too often for fear of switching on a light and disturbing their sleep, which is a dangerous trap to fall into.
The brightness from a standard light fixture is likely to wake or startle a baby unnecessarily during a routine check-in. It can also sabotage the chances of a relaxed feed or nappy change, and jeopardise their return to sleep. Of course, attempting to breastfeed or execute a nappy change without turning on a light, is not going to go smoothly for anybody involved! Cue night lights to provide that visibility for parents in supervising and providing care in a way that avoids or minimises disruption to your baby’s sleep cycle.
Consider too that mum or dad stumbling around in the dark is an accident waiting to happen. Having a night light prepped and ready to go will be a lifesaver for sleep-deprived parents as they maintain a watchful eye. Stick to LED bulbs that have a low lumen rating (a measurement of brightness as perceived by the human eye), and an adjustable colour spectrum to adapt to your needs.
Manages toddlers’ fear of the dark
Kids’ bedtime difficulties don’t end with infancy. Night-time and being afraid of the dark, can go hand in hand for children, and you can probably recall your own fears of the ‘monster lurking under the bed’, or one of the myriad other dangers that children tend to conjure up in their mind when the lights go out. It’s common for children to develop a fear of the dark beginning around the age of 18 months, and throughout their preschool years.
In one sense, this is healthy, as it means they are developing an awareness and appreciation of perceived dangers in the world around them. However, their overactive imagination can become problematic, so it’s best to address the fear before it causes too much anxiety and stress for your child. When introducing a light, it might be tempting to just leave their bedroom door ajar to let light stream in from the hall, but this light source is usually not conducive to sleep.
A night light is an ideal way to accommodate their demands for light, while having control over the light that is omitted. Similarly, a night light can be an empowering experience for kids themselves, who are given an opportunity to exert some control over their environment. By switching it on and off (touch lights are great here), they can start to build a more positive association with the dark. Make sure that the night light you choose for their bedside table is made from a sturdy and safe construction, to prevent any injury of wandering little hands.
Makes bedtime easier and more fun
It’s good to know that there are benefits to a night light beyond alleviating fears of the dark. Night lights can also help address general night-time restlessness in kids, which is something the overwhelming majority of parents will face in getting their little ones to bed.
A night light also serves as a functional piece of decor; the choice of which can reflect your child’s personality and allow for a chance to express themselves. You’ll find that there are plenty of night lights on the market that may look cute and immediately appeal to your child, but don’t always provide optimum light quality for relaxation and sleep. You’ll want the perfect pairing of looks and functionality to ensure your night light is a help, and not a hindrance for you and your child.
MyLight has put a lot of thought into providing this solution for children and their parents. Their unique, customisable ‘name’ lights grow with your kids as they move from infant to toddler, and offer a learning opportunity as they get familiar with seeing their name. Best of all, they are made from safe, energy efficient LEDs and designed to provide just the right amount of ambient light to support all stages of your child’s development. Check out their website to find out why every child (and parent) loves a MyLight night light!