There’s one thing that most parents of young children will be craving and that’s sleep. Night lights can soon become a child’s (and, in turn, a parent’s) best friend, acting as a helping hand for those who are fighting sleep, afraid of the dark, or partial to a midnight trip to the loo.
But while you want the night light to look the part in your child’s bedroom or nursery, there are a few things to consider before buying any old nightlight.
Firstly, how child friendly is the light, and are they able to use it independently? Is it easy portable, or does it need to be plugged into the mains to operate? Portable options will give you freedom, particularly if you’re holidaying, or for weekends with the grandparents.
You should also consider battery life, especially if it is going to get daily use. Although, personally, we prefer those that offer a charging facility as they are kinder to the planet. We also recommend finding night lights that give the option of adjusting the brightness and have a timer. The latter will be hugely beneficial, and less draining on the battery, saving you from having to sneak in to turn it off. We also praised extra handy features such as light projections or sounds.
It’s important to flag that experts believe the best possible way for a child to sleep is in pitch darkness, as this encourages melanin to do its work, but this doesn’t always work for every family.
How we tested
We tested a range of night lights over the course of two weeks with the help of a five-month-old and three-year-old tester, using them for naps and overnight sleeping.
The best kids’ night lights for 2021 are:
Best overall – Moonie rabbit with a light: £65, Kidly.co.uk
Best for longevity – Tommee Tippee penguin 2-in-1 portable night light: £33.57, Amazon.co.uk
Best eco design – Liewood Winston night light: £31.50, Scandiborn.co.uk
Best for ease of use – Infantino soothing light and projector: £19.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best nursery feature – Mamas & Papas elephant shelves and nightlight: £49, Mamasandpapas.com
Best for comfort – Kaloo bear projector night light: £24.99, Kidinn.com
Best portable night light – Purflo dream cloud musical portable night light: £20, Purflo.com
Best for projections – Angelcare pabobo underwater effects projector whale: £45, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk
Best for travel – Chicco next2stars, neutral: £24.99, Mamasandpapas.com
Best for functionality – Babymoov dreamy sleep trainer night light: £34.95, Naturalbabyshower.co.uk
Moonie rabbit with a light
Practical and pretty doesn’t always prevail with baby essentials, but this is Polish brand Moonie’s mission: a family company that’s all about beautiful, simple and well-designed sleep aids and toys. This rabbit is adorable, soft to the touch and thanks to the light and sound module hidden in its tummy, rather clever too. While it’s the most expensive, it offers plenty, and we love that you can use the ears to tie to a cot or stroller. Charging by the USB cable provided, it takes around 3 hours to fully charge, providing around 9 hours of working time.
Everything feels rather gentle with Moonie which is just what you want to settle a baby or child fighting sleep. There are seven soft colours, and five different soothing white and pink noise sounds, mimicking the frequencies of heartbeats, wind, rustling leaves and steady rain – plus there are also more traditional lullabies. It’s incredibly intuitive to use. Squeeze his back to turn it on, and double squeeze to go through the sound library, or hold down to change the volume. You can do all these things without removing the unit.
However, if you want to change the light modes (there are five to choose from) you’ll need to take it out through the side zip. Our favourite is the simple mood light, offering a warm light which you can choose to pulsate. There’s also a built-in smart cry detector, so it’ll start up when it hears any sounds of distress and will automatically shut off after 30 minutes. Plus, simply remove the module unit and you can pop this rabbit in the wash.
Buy now £65.00, Kidly.co.uk
Tommee Tippee penguin 2-in-1 portable night light
Best: For longevity
This night light from Tommee Tippee is a game-changer. The main penguin night light is charged via a USB cable (it doesn’t come with an adaptor) and acts as a hub for the portable egg light which proudly sits on top. The idea behind this product is to provide a fixed nursery night light to check on your baby once they’re in their own room, then once they hit 18 months of age, they can use the portable egg night light independently, making this a great option for longevity.
The tactile silicone egg is not only lovely to touch, it’s also the perfect size for little hands to carry and hold and our two-year-old tester loved looking after it. Both lights are dimmable; the penguin has a dimmer switch at the back, while the egg has a discreet button on the top which has three brightness settings. Once the egg is charged (a full charge takes eight hours) it will last 10 hours, although we found it exceeded this.
At over £30 it’s a considered purchase, but look at this as an investment: you have a night light – or a lovely little side lamp – that’ll get used for years to come.
Buy now £33.57, Amazon.co.uk
Liewood Winston night light
Best: Eco design
Who wouldn’t want this adorable panda keeping a watchful eye over them at night? Nordic brand Liewood is known for its eco credentials, and this is demonstrated in the rechargeable night light alleviating the need for batteries. Before use you’ll need to charge this little fella for three hours with the included USB charging lead, this will provide an impressive 12 hours of gentle soft glow, more than enough to see you through the night. The environmentally friendly soft silicone is tactile to the touch, and our three-year-old tester loved moving it around her bedroom.
Buy now £31.50, Scandiborn.co.uk
Infantino soothing light and projector
Best: For ease of use
This is a really nifty piece of kit from baby brand Infantino, and for its size – and cost – it’s bursting with features. It’s designed to work in three stages: starting life as a crib soothing light, then a crib projector and graduating as a table-top night lamp.
There are two straps supplied to attach to a cot – it’s worth bearing in mind that this only attaches if your cot has bars as we’re using a bedside crib we placed as close as we could, but in a traditional cot this is a doddle. A standout feature for us has to be the smart sound sensor, when a cry is detected, the nightlight automatically turns on saving you a trip out of bed.
We also like that you can control the volume using a switch at the rear, or can choose not to have the melodies/natural sounds (of which there are nine in total) playing at all, but our tester seemed to rather like them. It’s so easy to switch from ordinary night light, to projector, just by swivelling the grey cover, and the starry projection looks lovely on a wall or ceiling.
While this is wonderfully portable, it’s a shame it’s battery powered. However, the 10-minute auto shut off does preserve the battery and ours is still going strong after two weeks. We also like that there’s some longevity to this, as a lamp in a child’s bedroom.
Buy now £19.99, Amazon.co.uk
Mamas & Papas elephant shelves and nightlight
Best: Nursery feature
If you’re in the throws of decorating a nursery, and looking for a multifunctional product that not only looks good, but provides a service, then this could be just the ticket. Making an adorable wall display, this cute elephant design will suit any nursery style. Inside the box you’ll find a large and medium elephant shelf, as well as a little elephant being pulled by the balloon light. The light provides a soft soothing glow and is powered by 3 AAA batteries.
Even those not enamoured by DIY will find this a doddle to put up on the wall. While the night light is not currently in stock, you can pre-order it for delivery in December.
Buy now £49.00, Mamasandpapas.com
Kaloo bear projector night light
Best: For comfort
This teddy is so soft, we wanted to snuggle up with it ourselves, though we’d have to get it out of the clutches of our toddler tester first. Providing a gentle glow, and plenty of comfort, there’s a removable light panel housed in his furry tummy which can be turned on and off by squeezing it – this was easy enough for our tester to do independently.
The standout feature for us however, is the auto-off function, which will turn the light off after 20 minutes of use. We were impressed with the battery time, lasting around 16 hours, which saw us through the two weeks of testing. It takes around 4 hours to charge and the USB cable is provided. Plush and cosy, we like that this is as much a teddy as a practical sleep soother.
Buy now £24.99, Kidinn.com
Purflo dream cloud musical portable night light
Best: Portable night light
This is the most compact night light of those we tested which makes it a great portable choice. Don’t be put off by its size, it’s small but it’s mighty. The sweet cloud design looks lovely by the baby’s side and can be attached to cot bars or a stroller using the Velcro loop. This little magical cloud will work through six colours before gently fading to dark after 30 minutes, and you can choose to have this accompanied by 10 lullabies, four different sounds inspired by nature, or a calming heartbeat noise.
The lullabies are lovely, and include classics such as “Hush Little Baby” and “Mary had a Little Lamb”. You can switch through the music using the arrows button at the back, or hold it down for about 3 seconds and it’ll play all of the lullabies in a sequence and auto stop after around 30 minutes. We also like that you can adjust the volume and choose to have music and light together, or separately. You’ll need to buy three AA batteries, and we did find these needed replacing after about a week.
Buy now £20.00, Purflo.com
Angelcare pabobo underwater effects projector whale
Best: For projections
Transform your baby’s nursery or toddler’s bedroom into a calming underwater haven with this musical projector from Angelcare. You’ll need three AA batteries to power this product, but the result is rather impressive as the projection coupled with sounds is just magical.
Creating animated shapes with waves and swimming fish, choose from three strengths so you can choose how intense you’d like the light – it works best in a completely dark room. Combine the projection with the gentle marine melody, wave-inspired lullaby or white noise and you’ve created a serene spa-like space for the baby.
There are four different volumes or you can opt for no sound at all, and the music will turn off automatically after 15 minutes, while the projector will shut off after 22 minutes. We also love that you can remove the projector module and pop the whale in the wash. Again, we’d love to see this is a rechargeable product as it does drink battery juice quickly.
Buy now £45.00, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk
Chicco next2stars, neutral
Best: For travel
Chicco is well known for its baby essentials, and if you’re a next2me user, this night light is probably on your radar. Even if you’re not familiar with the brand, the next2stars is an effective product. Sounding the classical work from the likes of Beethoven, Bach and Schumann, this is one sophisticated night light.
There are seven melodies in total, which can be flicked through using the aptly illustrated music button at the front. You’re able to adjust the volume using the wheel at the back (this also turns it off and on) and you can alter the light mode too. In lamp mode, it provides a soft projection glow, while as a projector it’ll work its way through a collection of colours – this is, of course, best seen in complete darkness. You can also use it in night light mode whereby the little moon button lights up providing a smattering of light.
To run through the rainbow of colours this night light offers will take around 30 minutes, it will then go into standby mode – useful for a product powered by three AA batteries. When in standby mode the built-in sound sensor means the next2stars can activate its light and sound cycle automatically if it senses blubbing.
The standout feature for us, though, is how versatile the attachment is. Yes, the perfect match is a next2me crib (£199, Argos.co.uk), but it’s also compatible with other bedside cribs and travel cots, making it perfect for trips away. Oh, and the addition of a little bear went down a storm with our three-year-old tester. The next2stars is available for pre-order for a mid-October arrival.
Buy now £24.99, Mamasandpapas.com
Babymoov dreamy sleep trainer night light
Best: For functionality
This all-singing, all-dancing offering from Babymoov is a smart way to train your little one to know the difference between nighttime and daytime. It has four feature buttons hidden away at the back of the product and by activating the sleep function you can teach them when to sleep and when to wake up. Glowing blue when it’s time to sleep and a soft yellow when it’s time to wake up, the instructions were easy to follow and you can adjust the timings for full sleeps or shorter naps.
You can also choose between a steady light or a projection of a magical starry sky on the wall by turning the casing. The base emits the colours of the rainbow either randomly or in fixed mode using the night light button, and can be placed on a timer to reserve battery life. We did find that we needed to charge this every couple of days, but given the functionality we weren’t surprised.
There are six lullabies to choose from (again, can be placed on a timer) with a white noise option, and the volume can be adjusted. We love that it’s been designed with an ergonomic handle so that young ones can carry it themselves.
Buy now £34.95, Naturalbabyshower.co.uk
The verdict: Kids’ night lights
Polish brand Moonie proves that pretty and practical can exist in the baby world. Its rabbit with a light may be the most costly of those we tested, but it performs on every level; comforting, full of nifty features and doesn’t require batteries. And when its night light services are no longer required, you have yourself a plush toy for bedtime cuddles and more.
For more ways to help your little one sleep, see our selection of best baby blankets to keep them snug as a bug in a rug