For your sake as well as your baby's, think carefully about the nursery's lighting. You will want to be able to check on your sleepyhead without waking him, as well as have adequate light for story reading and playtime. Because lights involve both hot bulbs and electricity, safety is, again, a primary concern.
You'll find suitable light fixtures at a range of suppliers. Juvenile-furnishings boutiques will have the widest array of child-oriented lamps, while general lighting stores will offer a wider range of ceiling fixtures in simple styles that would be fine for a nursery and would adapt well to a child's room. Specialty lighting and juvenile-furnishings catalogs are another source of lamps and light fixtures.
When choosing lights for the nursery, stick with those that accept regular incandescent bulbs. Halogen bulbs, while long-lasting, burn dangerously hot and produce too bright a light for babies. Also consider the light switch: Will it be easy for a small hand to operate? While initially you may not appreciate a toddler's frequent on-and-off- with-the-lights games (a product of their fascination with cause and effect), there will soon come a day when you appreciate their independence in such small tasks.
Overhead fixtures are the safest light source in a nursery since the wiring is behind walls and the fixture itself is well out of the baby's reach. Choose a fixture style with a shade that covers the bulb and softens the light; babies spend a lot of time staring at the ceiling, and untamed bulbs can be harsh on young eyes. Some shades have glow-in-the-dark designs that linger long after lights-out, giving the baby something to gaze at.
If you are having several recessed lights installed, consider having several switches so that the lights can be operated independently. And whether you have one overhead light or several, be sure to install a dimmer switch to make it easy to check on the baby at night without rousing him.
Sconces and wall fixtures provide more localized lighting than an overhead fixture. They are safer than table lamps because they aren't easily knocked over, but chances are they are reachable by a determined toddler, so teach your child a healthy respect for hot bulbs early on.
Ideally, wall lights are hard-wired into the wall so there are no cords hanging loose. If that's not possible, hang the fixture as close to the outlet as possible and secure the cords in covers adhered to the wall (some people use duct tape or masking tape painted the color of the wall).
Table lamps come in a wide range of nursery-appropriate styles; many are designed to match bedding sets or have juvenile themes. Some are made of ceramic, others of painted wood, and still others are crafted from antique toys. In some cases, the lamp base is the decorative centerpiece, while other lamps feature a clever shade.
While nursery table lamps are decorative, they can also be dangerous. Ideally, they sit out of reach on a table that blocks the outlet they are plugged into; excess cord should be gathered on a cord winder. For extra safety, consider screwing the lamp onto the table or dresser.
Floor lamps are an option only for older children.
Recent studies suggest that a nightlight (or any dim light) left on all night in a room occupied by a baby under two may be related to later myopia (nearsightedness). While the research still needs follow-up, the evidence is compelling enough to suggest that a nightlight is appropriate for the hallway, but not the nursery (unless it is turned off once the baby falls asleep). All the more reason to put the main light on a dimmer that you can regulate as you enter and leave the room. If you do use a nightlight, be sure to locate it well away from any flammable materials, and consider using nightlights that have cooler neon minibulbs, rather than 4- or 7-watt bulbs.
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