If you have children, no matter what their age, chances are that their bedrooms are far more than simply places to lay their tired heads. Typically, a child’s room is also a play room, an office, a study hall, a gaming or TV lounge, and a place to entertain friends. A successful lighting plan for these special, multi-purpose rooms takes into consideration all of these functions, as well as safety concerns for young children.

Start with good overhead lighting. You can have a lot of fun with pendant lamps or semi-flush fixtures that come in a wide range of whimsical designs, but be sure they produce a bright, soft light that is easy on young eyes yet bright enough to provide play areas with plenty of illumination. Adding dimmer switches provides more control over the level of light they provide, with the added bonus of helping young children get mentally primed for bedtime by gradually dimming the lights throughout the evening.

Consider lighting that will adapt to your child’s needs as they grow. Night lights help young children feel safe, and also prevent older kids (and parents) from stumbling over stray toys or dirty laundry in the dark. Because they lack cords and can’t get knocked over, wall sconces over the bed are safest for very young children, and they also free up room on the nightstand for books, alarm clocks and stereo equipment as your child gets older. In small spaces, they might even eliminate the need for a nightstand altogether.

If you do choose freestanding lamps, go for lightweight, unbreakable lamps that won’t cause injury if they get knocked over, and keep cords under control. Any light fixtures within reach of little hands should use CFL or LED light bulbs that stay fairly cool to the touch, and any metal parts should never get hotter than 140 ºF.

As children get older, they’ll need good task lighting for reading and homework. Desk lamps and track lighting serve well in this area. If your child spends a lot of time in front of a computer or television, again consider adding dimmer switches, or go with three-way lamps with flexible necks that can be turned down or pointed elsewhere to prevent harsh glare on the screen that can be damaging to young eyes.

Involving your children in picking out lighting for their room can be a fun and rewarding activity for you both, but use common sense in deciding how much control your child should have in the process. Don’t allow a three-year-old to pick out an overhead light fixture that she’s sure to hate when she’s thirteen, unless your prepared to shell out the money to replace it. Observe how your child uses the room and communicate with him about his needs and preferences, and with these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to develop a lighting plan that brightens his days as much as his nights.

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