Another sleepless night? Chronic sleep deprivation is a tough reality for new parents and during the first two years of your little one’s life, a good night’s rest may feel closer to a lottery win than a daily habit.
What’s worse, you’re not the only one struggling to catch some shut-eye. If your baby is the reason you’re awake during the twilight hours it could be a case of separation anxiety, feeding time, a much-need diaper change, or the result of their natural sleep cycle pattern. Short of an intravenous caffeine drip, your options for coping can feel limited and there’s not much choice other than to battle on through. Or is there?
Enter the baby soothing projector. These clever little devices cast colorful projections onto the ceiling, visually distracting your baby and creating a soft, calming room ambiance for them to relax in, as well as soothing them back to sleep if they wake during the night. Here’s everything you need to know.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Baby Soothing Projectors
There’s a huge variety of baby soothing projectors available and trying to choose between them all may feel quite daunting. Plus, between feeding time and diaper changes you’ve already got enough on your plate. Fret not, our list includes a broad range of devices to satisfy the needs of all babies, and their parents. So whether you’re after a dazzling sound and light show with all the bells and whistles, or a simple starlight projector to guide your loved one into a soft slumber – we’ve got you covered.
The specific functions you should prioritize will depend on the issues that you’re trying to address and for a more detailed breakdown, you can skip over to our guide on choosing the best device for your baby’s sleep issues. Still, whichever functions are most important to you, there are some features common to all baby soothing projectors that you should pay attention to. These are the features we used to evaluate the best baby soothing projectors on the market.
Some devices have a traditional dome-shaped design and these types typically offer a more impressive projection show. Other devices are animal-themed and may look more like a soft toy than a projector. The latter can look adorable, but there’s often a trade-off for this in the projection quality they offer.
Each device offers different light projection patterns, shapes, and colors – all the details of which are noted in our reviews. Just remember to factor in brightness and if this can be varied. Excessively bright projections could be overstimulating for nighttime rest, but too dim and they won’t be fascinating enough to hold your little one’s attention. You should also consider whether the projection is powerful enough to extend onto high ceilings if you have them. If not, the patterns can distort, spoiling the effect.
Sounds & Volume Control
Some projectors offer soothing sounds to accompany the visual effects, like lullabies or sounds of nature. If so, take note of the volume controls and how adjustable the sound level is. Every baby has their unique sensitivity to sound and if you expect sound to be overstimulating for bedtime, there are sound-free options available. Both are included in our product reviews.
While the lights and sounds do a great job soothing your baby, you’re the one who needs to fiddle with the controls each evening. You probably won’t want to leave the device on all night – it’s a waste of power. On the other hand, do you want to risk waking your little one by heading back towards them to switch it off, or have them wake up to complete darkness? Automated time controls can help strike a good balance here and each device differs in its customizability – some even offering remote smartphone controls.
Power & Portability
Some devices run on batteries, others require an AC adaptor, and a select few can be dual-powered. For corded projectors, you need to take note of where the power outlets are in your baby’s room. Trailing wires are a safety concern as well as an eyesore, and the distance from their crib will dictate how important sound/brightness controls are for you. You should also consider portability. Battery-powered options are typically smaller and lighter and if a projector can successfully soothe your child to sleep, you’ll want to take it with them everywhere.
With these factors in mind, let’s get right into our top 10 picks for the best baby soothing projectors.
Guide to Buying the Best Baby Soothing Projectors
Every projector to make our review list can create a calm, relaxing ambiance in your baby’s nursery room and help to soothe them when it’s time to rest. But if you still need help picking that perfect projector for your little one, this complete guide contains everything you need to know. Let’s start with why sleep is so important and the common issues you may be experiencing at nighttime.
Sleep Is the Secret Sauce
During their first years of life, your baby’s brain develops rapidly and a whole heap of these changes take place while they sleep. It’s during rest that brain synapses are formed, and around 1 million neural connections are formed per second during these first few years. Pretty crazy stuff. Sleep is also how memories are consolidated and is vital for successful cognitive and emotional development.
Before you descend into panic, please understand that it’s completely normal for you and your baby to experience sleep issues at this time and it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. That said, the quicker you can resolve these issues, the better your chances of developing healthy sleep habits for their future. Thankfully, a soothing projector can be invaluable for dealing with the common sleep issues that babies, infants, and toddlers deal with as they develop.
Choosing a Soothing Projector for Common Baby Sleep Issues
If you’re still unsure which projector is best for your situation, we suggest that you prioritize functions that can help to address your little one’s primary sleep issue. Here are the most common.
1. Check-ups & Feeding
Typical age range: 0-4 months
In the first few months, newborns usually wake for feeding every 3 hours. Luckily, many soothing projectors allow you to make sure the room remains well-lit with a soft nightlight. This means you won’t need to turn on the main light and risk disturbing your child, and also makes you much less likely to stub your toe on the cabinet (who put that there?!) as you try to navigate your home in the dark.
Our suggestion: Cloud b Twilight Turtle has a built-in nightlight function that will stay on all night, perfect for keeping a small amount of light in your baby’s room for when you need to check-in.
2. Waking During the Night
Typical age range: 6 months – 2 years
Even once nighttime feeding has become a thing of the past, it’s still common for infants to wake multiple times in the night, seemingly for no reason. This is because they have much shorter, natural sleep cycles than adults do. Unfortunately, these wake ups always seem to happen just as you’ve fallen into a deep sleep yourself. In these cases, usually all it takes is some light reassurance to guide your child back into a sweet slumber.
Our suggestion: The Fisher Price Smart Connect allows you to start a projection show remotely from your smartphone if your little one wakes, and the VTech Baby Lil’ Critters projector is automatically activated when it hears the sound of your child crying. Both are convenient solutions and provide immediate relief to your baby without disturbing your own sleep habits more than is necessary.
3. Separation Anxiety
Typical age range: 6 months+
Separation anxiety typically occurs as your little one starts to form attachments and panics when things that comfort them (like you!) go out of sight. To help with this, we suggest that you opt for a projector with strong, varied projections and accompanying sounds, to fully captivate your child and distract them from the initial separation. To save energy, you should also opt for a device with an auto-off feature that will switch off once the initial anxiety has passed and your child has fallen into a more restful state.
Our suggestion: Summer Slumber Buddies Eddie the Elephant is an excellent all-round option that displays a beautiful projection show with accompanying songs to create a soothing show that will fully immerse your little one. It even has a handy auto-off feature to turn the projector off after 15, 30, or 45 minutes.
4. Fear of the Dark
Typical age range: 1.5 years+
If your baby cries as soon as the lights go out, or becomes unsettled moments after you manage to get under the sheets yourself, you may suspect that they’re scared of the dark. The truth is, young babies don’t have the cognition to experience fear in this way. In fact, thanks to all the time they spent developing in the womb, they actually find sleeping in the dark more comfortable. Instead, they’re likely to be experiencing separation anxiety (see above).
But your child is approaching toddlerdom, so it’s normal for them to develop a fear of the dark. Don’t stress too much – although this feels like yet another hurdle to overcome, for most children this fear only lasts for a few months and can be easily resolved with most projectors.
Our suggestion: Luckkid Night Light for Kids offers the most stunning light-show we’ve seen and will illuminate your child’s room enough to quell any fears. It also has a nightlight function that you can leave on all evening if the light show is too stimulating.
5. Lacking Routine
Typical age range: 0-2 years
Before the ‘terrible twos’, your child’s sleeping habits will frequently change. Although this can be very stressful as a parent, it isn’t a problem for your little one. Children gradually develop a circadian rhythm over the first two years of life and ever-changing patterns before this is to be expected.
That said, the earlier you can develop a regular nighttime routine, the better. By using a soothing projector to ‘wind down’ every evening, your little one will learn to associate the patterned lights with sleep and find it easier to drift into a sweet slumber. Essentially, the more you use it, the better it works.
Our suggestion: The Fisher Price Smart Connect allows you to create specific nighttime routine settings for your child with its ‘sleep stages’ app function.
Sleep Tips: Getting the Most Out of a Baby Soothing Projector
No matter your little terror’s age or sleep issue, here are some general usage tips that’ll help give your night times a little more peace.
If the device you choose is outlet-powered, you’ll need to be mindful of appropriate room placement. Even dim lights and low sounds can be disturbing when placed closeby, and this is especially true of projectors, which typically flicker and rotate. If the only available outlets are at your baby’s bedside, battery-powered devices or projectors with a more powerful projection range are the most convenient solution.
PRO-TIP: Here’s a handy test to check if the projections or nightlight is too bright and could risk disturbing your baby. Turn on the projections/nightlight and then close your eyes for a few seconds, and take note of how dark it looks. Then repeat the test again, but this time also place your hands in front of your eyes. If the second test is darker, you should reduce the light. If things look the same, you’re good to go.
Songs and sounds of nature can be a great way to create an extra special ambiance for a restless baby. But if you’re trying to build a better sleep schedule for your child, try not to rely too heavily on these.
It’s easy for young ones to form strong associations with auditory stimuli, and using the same sounds every night could lead to dependence over time. We suggest experimenting by just using the projections alone, or switching between different, natural sounds.
PRO-TIP: Due to their small ear canals, the sound pressure generated in the ears of little ones is much greater than in adults, so don’t assume that just because something sounds soft to you, it will to them. Start with the lowest setting first and work your way up.
<ahref=”https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160608154233.htm#:~:text=Lighting%20color%20affects%20sleep%2C%20wakefulness,it%2C%20find%20researchers%20%2D%2D%20ScienceDaily”>Different colors can help to trigger or delay rest, with blue lights being associated with increased stress hormone production and inhibiting melatonin – the exact opposite of what you’re hoping for at bedtime. In contrast, orange and red hue lights are considered better for rest and relaxation as they’re less likely to alter circadian rhythms.
Still, many parents routinely use colors like blues and purples to help send their little one off to sleep. It all comes down to individual susceptibility and as with everything related to children, your mileage may vary. Our suggestion is to start with your favorite colors and if you still have trouble, switch to softer tones like amber or deep red.
For many parents, a soothing light projector is all you’ll need to establish a healthy sleep-wake cycle for your tot. But developing positive habits can take some time, and if things don’t work right away, don’t stress. Accept that you might have to experiment a little and above all, give yourself a break. It’s estimated that new parents face up to six years of sleep deprivation, so you can forgive yourself for not being on the ball 100% of the time.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Get My Newborn to Sleep Longer at Night?
While you may be worried that your newborn isn’t sleeping sufficiently during the nighttime, their current patterns are probably quite normal. Newborns usually sleep around 8 hours a night, but due to their small stomachs, they wake every few hours to eat. To ease the ride, here are a few helpful tips.
- Learn the signs of sleep readiness (yawning, rubbing eyes, fussing)
- Place your baby in bed before they fall asleep (so they learn to fall asleep alone)
- Create a soothing sleep environment (the best baby soothing projectors can help)
- Remain patient (after 4-6 months your baby should start sleeping through the night)
IMPORTANT: Pay close attention to pattern changes. If your baby has been sleeping soundly and consistently and has recently started waking more frequently, there could be a problem.
At What Age Do Babies Sleep Through the Night?
According to The Sleep Foundation, a typical range is between 3 to 6 months. Just don’t expect this to mean a full 8 hours – anything above 5 hours is classed as ‘sleeping through the night’. Still, 5 hours can be a big improvement and things should continue to settle further as they age. By 6 months, most children will no longer require any night feeding and the majority of their sleep should come in the nighttime hours, with just a few naps during the day.
What’s the Best Sound Volume for a Baby Soothing Projector?
In general, noises softer than 80 dB will not damage your baby’s hearing unless they’re exposed consistently for several hours. While soothing projectors should fall well under these limits, according to BabyHearing.org, these devices can still be a hazard. As such, we highly recommended that you follow the below tips for safe use.
- Test the sound output before use
- Use the lowest volume setting possible
- Don’t leave sounds playing all through the night
- Place the machine as well away from their crib/bed as possible
End the Day Softly With a Baby Soothing Projector
Your little bundle of joy – now they’re here it’s impossible to imagine living without them. Unfortunately, it might also be impossible to imagine sleeping with them here, too. If you feel lucky to catch 40 winks yourself around nap-time, it may be time to invest in a baby soothing projector. These devices can help address your little one’s sleep issues and help them to build healthy nighttime habits for the long-term. Plus, more rest for them means more rest for you.
Oh, and if your baby already sleeps like – well – a baby (lucky you), then don’t feel guilty about wanting a projector just for the beautiful visual effects. We get it! Projectors make nursery rooms look super cute and are a worthwhile investment for any loving parent. Enjoy choosing one for your nursery from our list.