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Is it OK for my toddler to sleep with a light on?

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Our son will be 3 years old next month. Lately he has been insisting that his bedroom lamp remain on all night. I have switched to a 40-watt bulb just to make the room as dark as possible. Is there any reason for us not to allow this practice? I worry about his eyes, etc. He does have a nightlight in his room, but that does not seem adequate for him. If I get up in the night and turn the light off we find it on in the morning — which means he is getting up at night and disturbing his sleep. Should we just wait for this phase to pass, or be firm and unplug the light?


Many children between 3 and 6 go through periods of "night fright." Monsters in the closet or bears under the bed can only come out in the darkness, so keeping a light on insures safety. Pooh-poohing your child's fears by saying that there are no monsters misses the point: The fears are real, even if the actual creatures are not. The nightlight may be casting shadows that are just as scary as the darkness, so the more diffused and general light from his lamp may provide more comfort.I think the source of your concern may be reports of a study in Science that claimed to show a relationship between nightlights and later near-sightedness in children. That was only one study. Many theories have succumbed to later investigations. However, these negative studies rarely achieve the widespread publicity that the more sensational preliminary ones are given by the media. So the most important warning is that you should not yet accept that this is a proven hazard.In addition, however, I believe there is a more important issue here: A child's feelings of safety and security and some measure of control over his environment are more critical in the long-term than the remote possibility that this may contribute to a need for glasses. Reassure your child that you will never let anything harm him, but let him keep his light on if he needs to.  

Member comments

Hallway Light
My 3 1/2 year old isn't afraid of the dark but he won't go to sleep unless the hallway light is on. ..

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