First things first...
This question needs some unpacking and the reason for this is that the marketing in parent-world is off the hook!
There are some serious promises and guarantees thrown around when it comes to the latest and greatest parent hack or gadget that is going to solve the latest challenge in your home!
Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely here for many of the amazing products on the market. There are some incredible TOOLS available that really can assist us in our parenting.. but a tool is only as helpful as the person who is using it right? They are RARELY (I'd even say, never) the one-stop fixer-upper you need.
And in ALL honesty parents? YOU are the guiding light in your home! YOU are the one who can ultimately support healthy and restorative sleep for your tot! Don't give your power away to the latest gadget, instead invest in education and getting a Feel-Good Plan in place!
Anyway, back to night lights. While they won't be the one thing that magically fixes your toddlers sleep, they are a fantastic TOOL to support it.
So in order to answer this and provide you with plenty of actionable advice I've broken this down into a few sections:
- The Holistic Sleep Code - our first steps for healthy sleep
- How night lights can help your toddler
- Our night light recommendations
So, let's get to it! Below are some tips from our Holistic Sleep Code which I cover in detail with all my 1:1 client consultations! These will help you to work towards establishing the foundations for healthy sleep!
The Holistic Sleep Code
As a general rule of thumb, the darker the room the better when it comes to napping, bedtime settles and sleeping to a reasonable hour in the morning (which is anything between 6.00am and 7.00am in my opinion). Be aware that the summer months in particular will increase the level of light in the bedroom which can be too bright to support healthy sleep.
Ideally, we want 80 - 90% darkness in their consistent sleep space. Darkness helps the body to convert serotonin (the awake hormone) to melatonin (the sleep hormone). When we work with the body's natural system we ensure sleep is more easy to achieve.
It may be worth installing block out blinds such as the Sleepy Sundays or pinning up a dark sheet/blanket over the windows, heck even Al-Foil will work (just don't leave it up long term as it can damage windows).
Now, here is a REALLY hot tip that is over-looked often. The use of screen time prior to sleep. I recommend ditching the screens at least 2-hours prior to bedtime. Your House Rule could be "TV is off after dinner". Use this time instead for quiet play or a walk around the block. Whatever you do we are aiming to calm your child's nervous system and prepare for sleep.
I highly recommend establishing consistent calming wind-downs prior to bedtime. Some toddlers require a longer wind-down, while others are okay with something a little shorter. Start with 15 minutes for a few nights before changing it up!
Wherever possible, allow your toddler some choice around their bedtime routines e.g. which pair of PJ's to they want to wear tonight? Do they want to do teeth or toilet first? The boundary is still there as they HAVE to wear PJ's and they HAVE to do both teeth and toilet, but you've allowed for development of autonomy and independence by framing choice-making and going with it.
Your wind-down might include 2 books, 1 nursery rhyme, 5 kisses and a cuddle goodnight! Whatever it looks like, keep it consistent (remember if you give an inch, they'll likely take a mile and everything in between!)
I recommend taking your time with this process, your toddler is about to be separated from you for the evening so those last moments of connection are really essential for settling well to sleep and remaining that way overnight.
TEMPERATURE & BEDDING
If you notice a waking around 3.00am this could be linked to feeling cold. The core body temperature drops to its lowest around this time, which also coincides with the overnight low outside. So ensure your toddler is layered well in natural fabrics like cotton and that bedding is clean and fresh too!
A SLEEP TOY/COMFORTER/LOVEY
Whatever you call it in your home, if your toddler doesn't have one, now is a great time to introduce it! Building an attachment to a favourite soft (and safe) toy will help to create a positive sleep association. It also provides an attachment to something in addition to Mum or Dad so overnight your toddler can snuggle it and re-settle back to sleep more comfortably. Foster this attachment by including the toy in role play, fun activities, taking it in the car and by playing silly games.
Right, let's get onto the topic of Nightlights!
What you've all be waiting for and I'm keeping it straight-to-the-point-simple!
As mentioned, these will not be the magic fix for sleep in your home BUT they are most definitely one of my top recommendations for helping toddlers sleep-soundly and obviously part of our incredible Holistic Sleep Code!
Nightmares and fears of the dark start to appear from around 2 years of age when the wonderful world of imagination begins to develop! And boy, can those imaginations run wild! Nightlights are a fantastic addition to a sleep space by providing extra comfort when things go bump in the night.
Introducing a warm colour (I only recommend red or orange) night light can provide an additional layer of security and safety for your child overnight. Red light does not seem to inhibit the production of melatonin like other types of light can, however, it is still important to ensure that it is not in a place that is going to distract them from sleep - so the further away the better.
Do you need the latest gadget that costs the earth? Honestly, no! You absolutely do not!
You can use literally anything dull and warm-coloured but if you're after specifics, read on!
My Night Light Recommendations
- Sam The Sheep, he has an orange light and can also be set to "sleep" and "wake" at the times you want! Sam will actually have his eyes closed when your tot is meant to be in bed so this is a great tool to use to support settles and re-settles overnight.
- Himalayan Salt Lamps are super lovely too! Make sure it has a dimmable switch so it's not super bright.
- Living & Co (The Warehouse) has a super cute Bear Night Light that has lots of different colour options (remember you just want to use Red or Orange)
- The Aroma Snooze is also a great option and has multi-uses!
Alright team, that's it in a nutshell!
Night lights can absolutely support healthy sleep, but they most definitely will not be the magic wand fix, especially if there are other factors at play.
If you're struggling with bedtime battles, overnight partying and early rising let's chat! I have a Complimentary 15 Min Chat so I can get to know you and your current sleep story before locking anything in! Or take a look at The Toddler Sleep Guide - this thing will definitely get you on your way to better sleep!