Catherine Completely Baby Sleep Consultant

Catherine Thompson
Baby Sleep Consultant & Owner of Completely Baby

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Is a red light for babies really the best?

It’s a bit of a buzz word when it comes to those early parenting days: self-settling. It’s enough to put the fear in new parents with the idea that you’re spoiling your newborn if you cuddle them too much and let them fall asleep in your arms. The good news: you’re not. Yet, there will come a time when you’re ready to teach your little one the art of self settling. When this happens is entirely up to you. One of the first pieces of advice you’re likely to come across in these current times is to invest in a red night light! But is it necessary? More importantly, does it actually work? We dig through the “pink noise” to get you the facts about using red light for babies.

toddler looking at a night light

Do you need a night light?

Many parents have had a night light in their baby’s room from day one. The soft dim warn glow of the light makes those middle-of-the-night feeds and nappy changes that much easier, without the need to use your phone or turn on the main light. It’s the ideal way to gently tend to your little one, without waking them up for a nighttime party.

Essentially, the nursery night light is there to help you, rather than your little one (and it’s help you’ll want to take!). So in short, babies do not need night lights! If anything, they could disturb them.

As they move towards toddlerhood, a fear of the dark can develop as their level of cognition has matured, this can happen from as early as 18 months old. By this stage, the role of the night light changes, from helping you to helping your little one through the night, which is where red lights for restful sleep come into it. A night light can help create a calming, safe place that reduces this fear for your little one and encourages them to self-settle throughout the night.

Night lights definitely have their benefits, from the baby stage through to toddler years, it’s simply about choosing the right one that won’t disrupt the sleep. Instead, we’re hoping for the opposite: a night light that actually promotes sleep and helps your child self-settle. Red night lights have been touted online recently as the answer.

Is there any evidence a red night light works?

Traditional night lights that we grew up with as kids were always a soft yellow or white colour. Just a basic, one-shade lamp that did the trick. Of course, these days you can get night lights in a whole range of colours and designs. In fact, with some you can even choose the colour, depending on your child’s mood that night.

However, red light for babies has become a bit of a buzz product on the market for parents. After all, if there’s a product that can help your little one sleep better, surely it’s worth investing in!

Red light therapy, as it’s known in the scientific world, does have some merit behind it. There’s been a number of studies done on it over the years.

The general finding is that it can have an effect on melatonin. This naturally occurring hormone helps you sleep. As it gets dark outside, your brain releases more of this hormone to help prepare you for a peaceful slumber. In a small 2012 study, researchers evaluated the effect of red light therapy on 20 female athletes. When compared to a placebo group that didn’t have light therapy, participants had improved sleep quality, melatonin levels, and endurance performance.

Healthline suggests that more evidence is probably needed, but at the end of the day, red light exposure won’t interfere with your little one’s sleep patterns, so there’s no harm in trying!

Top Picks: Night lights for Toddlers

On the hunt for the best baby night light? Ideally, you want to find a night light that will last from the baby years (for those all-important nappy changes) to the toddler years, as you’re teaching the skill of self-settling and keeping the nightmares at bay.

That’s why I love the VAVA Baby Night Light. It’s made from 100% toy-grade materials and has eight different colours to choose from. This means, you can opt for the soft, yellow/white glow in those early baby days when you need a little light to guide you, and then test out the red light as your little one gets a little bigger, to see if it helps with their sleep.

It has a rechargeable battery, which means it can be moved around the room in pursuit of the perfect spot for your little one, with an energy-saving, one-hour timer. It’s also easy to pack up and bring with you on holidays.

Vava Baby Night Light


What colour light helps you sleep?

If you trust the internet, it seems that red is the colour of choice, however the research is still a little lacking on just how effective it is. Blue light, white light and green light are all other options as well. What is most important is avoiding a bright light, dim lights with a warm glow will generally work best.

Best colour night light for sleeping?

It is believed that red is the best type of light colour, as it won’t disrupt your circadian rhythm. This essentially refers to learning the difference between day and night (which a newborn baby doesn’t know!). Emitting a soft, red glow in the lead up to bedtime is believed to help prepare the body for sleep, encouraging it to increase production of the sleep hormone melatonin for blissful slumber.

How does red light exposure affect the brain?

The theory (that has had positive results in some small studies that have been done), is that the soft, red glow stimulates the production of melatonin. This sleep hormone, which your body produces naturally, is released from the brain and helps prepare your body for sleep.

Every child is unique, so look at how your toddler is responding after a while of consistent use. If it’s causing disruption give it a break and then try again or work out whether it suits your child. While the ability to self-settle is certainly every parent’s dream, it doesn’t always go to plan and some children need a little more guidance and time than others.

What’s Next?

If you’re on the hunt for a little extra help when it comes to helping your little one get the best night’s sleep possible, you can review my packages for some one-on-one support, check out my newly released ebook,which focuses on babies aged 0-4 months, or get in touch and book a free chat to discuss any sleep challenges you might be having with your little one..

Catherine Completely Baby Sleep Consultant

Catherine Thompson
Baby Sleep Consultant & Owner of Completely Baby

Did you find this article helpful? I am a highly experienced baby sleep consultant with a unique educational and healthcare background who supports tired parents to help their babies find sleep more easily. If you want to chat about your situation please book in a free chat today by clicking the below button now! Alternatively you can text or call me on: +61 406 344 010.