Cute and practical, night lights can give your baby's nursery a charming glow. However, many parents worry about the effect these lights may have on their infant's vision development. Understanding the most recent research about this issue is important, especially if you're planning to purchase one of the many adorable night lights on the market.
Is It Safe to Use Baby Night Lights?
Fortunately, recent scientific evidence suggests that infant night lights pose no cause for concern. There have been several scientific studies into this issue, and doctors have concluded night lights may actually benefit infant development.
Original Correlation Between Night Lights and Nearsightedness
The controversy about night light use and vision development started with the publication of a study in the journal Nature in 1999. At that time, researchers found a correlation between ambient nighttime light before the age of two and later myopia, or nearsightedness. However, researchers based this correlation on survey results, rather than examination or medical records. In addition, they did not take into account parents' own level of myopia, which could have a major effect on infant visual development. When examining this article, it's important to remember that it proposes a possible correlation as opposed to a definitive link between night lights and nearsightedness. There are many other factors that could be involved.
No Link Between Night Lights and Vision Problems
As a follow-up to this study, a 2001 study published in the journal Perceptual & Motor Skills found that there was no association between nearsightedness and the use of lights in infant sleeping areas. The study included almost 500 individuals and examined the use of night lights, hall lights, and full light in nurseries compared to total darkness. There was no link between light use and myopia.
Doctors Now Recommend Night Lights
Today, the American Optometric Association recommends that parents leave a night light on in their baby's room to help boost visual development, particularly from birth to four months of age.
Shopping Options for Night Lights
In addition to vision development, night lights are practical for keeping light low during night-time feedings and diaper changes. However, there's no scientific evidence to suggest that babies experience fear of the dark or that not having a night light will deprive your infant of important stimulation. Deciding whether to purchase a night light is mostly a matter of personal preference. Fortunately, there are a number of night light styles to choose from if you do decide to buy one.
Baby Monitor Night Lights
For many families, a baby monitor is a necessity, so getting a monitor that does double-duty with an integrated night light makes sense. If this is the style you have in mind, consider these options:
- V-Tech Safe and Sound - This digital audio monitor, sold by Best Buy, has a handle that functions as a night light for the baby's room. It retails for about $40.
- Samsung Ez-VIEW Baby Monitoring System - This video monitor, available at Target, has a remote-controlled night light that allows you to turn the light on and off from outside the baby's room. It retails for about $130.
Auto-Sensor Night Lights
One of the most affordable and environmentally-friendly options is a plug-in night light with an auto sensor. These night lights have a photoeye that turns the light on or off depending on the light level in the room. Typically, they are nothing fancy, but they are a good, practical choice. Consider these options:
- Safety 1st Auto Sensor Night Light - Sold as a three-pack at Albee Baby, these night lights give a dim light and can be placed in the nursery or throughout your home. The set retails for about $10.
- DreamBaby White LED Night Light - This auto-sensing light, sold by Amazon.com, features an LED bulb that uses very little energy and will last for thousands of hours. It retails for just under $10.
Decorative Night Lights
Using baby night lights also offers a great opportunity to add a decorative element to the nursery. You can find a night light to match just about any theme or color scheme. Consider some of these cute options:
- Blue Star Night Light - This sweet night light from BuyBuyBaby is shaped like a pale blue star. Also available in pink and yellow, it plugs into a standard outlet and uses regular night light bulbs. This option retails for about $18.
- Hedgehog Woodland Night Light - This battery-operated night light from The Land of Nod is shaped like an adorable hedgehog. It's made of porcelain and uses an LED. This light retails for about $11.
- Rose Shade Night Light - This standard plug-in night light from Pottery Barn Kids has a beautiful shade covered in pink paper roses. It's a great choice for a baby girl's nursery and retails for about $30.
The Decision Is Up to You
Whether or not you decide that using a night light is right for your baby, it's important to understand the science behind the choice. If you do elect to add a night light to the nursery, you'll have no trouble finding one that meets your practical needs, budget, and room decor.