We Asked 9 Stylish Parents: What Are the Best Kids’ Night-Lights?
Bring a bit of magic to bedtime.
Updated Oct 4, 2021 7:10 AM
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For adults, night-lights tend to be strictly utilitarian: a plug-in piece of plastic from the hardware store, designed to make late-night trips to the bathroom less risky. But when it comes to children, a night-light is more than just a dime-a-dozen electrical fixture, serving a slightly different purpose than that of another after-hours standby, the bedside lamp. Whether gently illuminating the darkness during diaper changes or soothing a child fearful of what’s under the bed, these glowing trinkets—seen by bleary eyes still emerging from the depths of dreams—have the ability to offer comfort, companionship, and even a little bit of magic.
As with everything kid-related, there are countless options available to suit every need, style, and preferred degree of smart connectivity. To help narrow the search, we asked nine stylish parents about their night-lights of choice. Each combines function with a sprinkle of fantasy; some even toe the line between sensible staple and statement decor—a reminder that the best night-lights for little ones aren’t just practical but encourage imagination, wonder, and the sweetest of dreams, too.
- Best for animal lovers: Mr. Maria Miffy First Light
- Best for outdoor explorers: Apollo Box Soft Glow Night-Light
- Best for water babies: Vasili Lights Giant Medusa Origami Lamp
- Best for travelers: LumiPets Bear Night-Light
- Best for crafters: Tree by Kerri Lee Handpainted Plug-In Cottage Night-Light
- Best for fairy-tale fans: Merci Milo Mushroom Woodland Lamp
- Best for bookworms: IKEA KRUX LED Work Lamp
- Best for older kids: LittleHippo Mella Ready to Rise Sleep Trainer Alarm Clock
- Best for city dwellers: Philips Hue Smart Bulbs
Best for Animal Lovers: Mr. Maria Miffy First Light
Made in the likeness of Dutch author Dick Bruna’s illustrated rabbit Miffy, this irresistible pick is perfect for animal-loving children of all ages—and their parents, too. “I love this night-light, as do my kids,” says Joyce Lee, head of design at Madewell and mom to Poppy, 6, and Kai, 2. “It’s dimmable; gives off a soft, warm light; and serves as a cute decorative element in their bedroom.” Added perks: This bunny is made from BPA-free silicone, boasts an impressively long battery life, and is USB rechargeable. (For superfans, there’s also the option to go big: The extra-large Miffy light clocks in at an eye-popping 32 inches.)
Best for Outdoor Explorers: Apollo Box Soft Glow Night-Light
“If, like me, you were a bit afraid of the dark growing up, you probably had some themed night- light plugged into the wall socket by your door. I think mine was Strawberry Shortcake,” says Erin Hiemstra, founder and creative director of Apartment 34. “Thankfully night-lights have come a long way since then.” When Hiemstra discovered that her 6-year-old son, Carter, shared her childhood fear, she found just the right solution in this unique—and exceptionally beautiful—natural stone night-light. “I went hunting for a soothing, unobtrusive, battery-powered option that offers a lovely, soft glow,” she recalls. “I tell my son it’s a moon rock. He’s obsessed!”
Best for Water Babies: Vasili Lights Giant Medusa Origami Lamp
“My 2-year-old son Harry’s nursery was an amazing blue that reminded me of the Caribbean,” says interior and furniture designer Krista Sharif, who chose this dangling jellyfish pendant to complement her vision. Made from washable paper, the fixture features a constellation of punched-out holes that add to its magical appeal: “It cast a filtered light that danced around his room,” she remembers. Today Harry’s space is rainbow-colored, but the jellyfish remains right at home; later, as manufacturer Vasili Lights suggests, it can be used elsewhere—above a dining table, for instance, or a bathroom sink.
Those hoping to match the pendant to a specific palette are in luck: The jellyfish come in nearly every color of the rainbow. For sea life enthusiasts drawn to other species, the company’s additional offerings include turtles, blue whales, and toothy striped zebra fish.
Best for Travelers: LumiPets Bear Night-Light
Meanwhile, Kate Hayes—Sharif’s partner at the Atlanta-based interiors studio Kate Hayes Design and the furniture company Brite Bodies—stands by this portable silicone bear, which features a timer, remote control, and choice of nine dimmable colors. Durability is another of its strong points, says Hayes, who is the mother of two boys, ages 6 and 3. “It’s superfun because it’s squishy and hard to break,” she says. “And you can change the colors to fit your mood. We love it!”(Other night-lights produced by LumiPets include a puppy, an owl, and a long-lashed elephant.)
Best for Crafters: Tree by Kerri Lee Handpainted Plug-In Cottage Night-Light
A charming take on the classic plug-in, this simple cabin-shaped night-light comes recommended by Brittany Jepsen, the DIY virtuoso behind The House That Lars Built and author of Craft the Rainbow. “With a name like the House That Lars Built, of course I love a little cottage to bring in the extra-cozy factor,” the mother of two says. Fans of the handmade will also appreciate its hand-painted wood facade and tiny cutout windows; parents will love the fact that the company who makes it was founded by a design- and eco-conscious mom herself.
Best for Fairy-Tale Fans: Merci Milo Mushroom Woodland Lamp
Caroline Rodrigues, owner of beloved Los Angeles toy shop Merci Milo (and mom to the store’s 6-year-old namesake), swears by these enchanting metallic mushroom lamps, which instantly lend any space a touch of storybook magic. “They’re hand-painted, and each one is unique,” she says. “They also radiate a mesmerizing pattern on the ceiling.” What’s more, the lamps’ whimsical shape makes them perfect for daytime play—and the lightweight resin body ensures easy handling for even the tiniest grip.
Best for Bookworms: IKEA Krux LED Work Lamp
“My youngest son, Andrew, who is 6, loves this light,” says Abby Clawson Low, graphic designer and founder of the studio Hi + Low. “It normally sits on the desk in the boys’ bedroom and is usually the only light left on at night.” Though not technically a night-light, the lamp—complete with wrapped cord and rubber “ears”—is small enough to be moved bedside as needed, a plus for voracious readers who can’t resist a good book, even when it’s way past bedtime. “Sometimes when I come in to check on the boys after they’ve fallen asleep, I’ll see that the lamp has moved over to the floor next to Andrew’s lower bunk, alongside a pile of books,” notes Low. “He’ll angle it just so, so that he can discreetly read a book instead of going to sleep. It’s sweet.”
Best for Older Kids: LittleHippo Mella Ready to Rise Sleep Trainer Alarm Clock
“My kids are older now—almost 7 and 10—so their needs have evolved,” says Joy Cho, founder and creative director of Oh Joy! After searching for a multipurpose product that could serve as a night-light, sound machine, and alarm clock (“We didn’t want a lot of ‘things,’” she says), the designer landed on this cheerful triple threat, which is cute as a button, to boot. “You can change the color of the light, adjust how much it glows, and set the color to change for when it’s time to go to sleep or wake up. Plus you can add an alarm so your kids can get used to waking up on their own!”
Best for City Dwellers: Philips Hue Smart Bulbs
“My kids don’t use a night-light in the traditional sense, since we have quite a bit of ‘city light’ streaming in from underneath the blinds,” says blogger Dinah Eke of Dee Diary, who’s the mother of two young boys. Still, Eke helps soothe her sons to sleep by allowing the Philips Hue bulbs in her living room to filter dim light under their door (although, of course, parents looking for a solution in their child’s own room can simply switch an existing bedroom bulb for a smart one—or one of these). “If your kid needs a night-light and you’re short on space, it’s a great idea,” she says. “You can control the lights from your phone; you can dim them or change their colors.” In fact, the latter feature, she reveals, came with an unexpected benefit: “We taught our older guy his colors with that bulb.”
Our Shopping Checklist
Is the product appealing to children—and is it easy for them to use? When searching for the right fit for your family, consider the size and shape of the light, how intuitive it is to operate, and whether its design is relevant to your child’s interests.
Can the item be reused as something else—a toy or a decoration, say—when it’s no longer needed as a night-light? In some cases, as with the jellyfish pendant and the IKEA Krux lamp, products can be repurposed as everyday lighting in both kid and grown-up spaces alike.
There’s a night-light for seemingly every need. Depending on what’s most important for you and your child, keep an eye out for options that are dimmable, portable, remote controllable, and designed with smart features—or, better yet, opt for a model that does it all!
The Last Word
In addition to serving a practical function, night-lights present an opportunity to add whimsy to a little one’s sleep space, and to invest in a product that can double as decor (or another useful item, like a clock) as they grow. Be mindful of your child’s age, interests, and environment—and take your pick!
How We Chose These Products
Every product in a Domino guide meets these criteria:
- They blend form and function. We believe the best-designed products reflect your personal style and are a joy to use.
- They’re expert approved. In addition to our team of editors, we tap a range of designers, makers, renovators, and all-around knowledgeable people to share their intel.
- They’re endorsed by people who actually own them. We pay close attention to real reviews to know that they pass the test IRL.