If you’ve been around here for very long, you’ve heard me talk about how important it is for your child’s room to be DARK!
I tell families that the ideal level of darkness is, “I can’t see my hand in front of my face.”
I know that sounds impossible, and with lots of “blackout curtains” out there, it is impossible! And now that spring is here and the sun is setting later and rising earlier, this is extra important!
One of my biggest pet peeves as a sleep consultant is that there are SO MANY products marketed as blackout curtains for your little one’s room that just aren’t it.
The good news is, however, that there ARE some actual blackout solutions, and I want to share them with you!
First of all, why is such a dark room so important?
As our little one’s are falling asleep at nap or bedtime and they’re able to look around the nursery, see their favorite books, or toys, or the chair where mom and dad used to sit to rock them to sleep, they could be all the more distracted and take much longer to fall asleep than ideal.
If they are toddlers or older kids, they might even protest bedtime all the more because, “It’s still light outside!”
If their room, however, is completely dark, there’s really nothing else to do but fall asleep.
And did you know that when we sleep, our brains can still detect light?
So if there is ANY sunlight that starts creeping into your child’s room as the sun starts to rise, it could cause them to wake earlier than is ideal, and no one is a fan of early morning wakings.
Too much light in the room can also be a cause for short naps!
Read here to learn more about how light while we’re sleeping also affects our natural circadian rhythm, or body clock. Yours, too!
Common Questions About Blackout Curtains
“Will blacking out my child’s room make them a sleep snob?”
I get this question ALL. THE. TIME.
And I get it! Parents are concerned that if their baby gets used to sleeping in a nursery that is pitch black they won’t be able to sleep anywhere else; they’re afraid total darkness will become a sleep prop.
In one sense, you are creating total darkness to be a sleep prop, but it’s a good prop! Sleeping in a pitch black room helps all of us, adults and kids alike, sleep more soundly.
So even if we are traveling for three weeks in the year and for those three weeks my child’s sleep is off because the room isn’t dark enough…I’d rather the other 49 weeks of the year be the best sleep possible at home, rather than all 52 weeks of the year be sub-par in a room with light streaming through.
Not to mention you CAN achieve total darkness when traveling. Hint: the SlumberPod and foil and painter’s tape…keep reading!
“When can I stop using blackout curtains in my child’s room?”
This is another common question I hear a lot, and there’s not really a straightforward answer!
For some kids (and adults!), they will just sleep better in a totally dark room and that doesn’t really change. I have also seen some older kids, who just don’t seem to be affected by light coming into the room.
Maybe you go on vacation, or or your child sleeps over at Grandma’s house, and the room wasn’t totally dark, and they slept just as well! In that case, I would still aim to keep their room at home nice and dark, as you already have it all set up, but you don’t have to worry about it as much when you travel!
“What if my child is afraid of the dark?”
If you’re child has started communicating a fear of the dark, we certainly want to support them.
But rather than taking away the blackout curtains and letting more sun in, offer a night light! You can read more here.
The Three Best Blackout Curtains
Hint: the first two are not actually curtains.
Blackout EZ Window Covers
The problem with most blackout curtains, shades, or blinds is that light still seeps in through the sides, and potentially the top and bottom, as well.
Enter Blackout EZ window covers!
Blackout EZ covers attach directly to your window frame so there is no way for light to come through. Because they attach directly to the frame, you can still hang fun curtains over them, or even keep your current blinds up.
Another great perk of these blackout covers is that you can cut them to fit windows of any shape, so no matter what shape or size the windows are, you can cover them; simply cut the covers to size and install them.
And the room will be completely blacked out…BOOM!
I can’t talk for very long about total darkness without mentioning one of our all-time favorite baby and toddler sleeping products, The SlumberPod.
The SlumberPod ensures that your child can still have a dark sleep space no matter where they’re sleeping – in a hotel room, at grandma’s house, at your office, etc.
This pod not only provides a totally dark sleeping environment, but it feels like it’s own sleep space, making it perfect for room sharing!
We live in a two-bedroom apartment, so our now 17 month old slept in our room until she was 10-11 months and we were ready to put her in a room with her sister.
And the SlumberPod made it not only possible but comfortable!
My husband and I could still go in and out of our room while she was asleep without worrying about her seeing us. We could open the door, read a book in bed with a small light, put some clothes away, etc., because she was sleeping inside the SlumberPod.
Read more about why I love the SlumberPod here!
[p.s. you can get $20 off your pod using the code “GRACES10” at checkout!]
Nicetown Blackout Curtains
I have not personally used the Nicetown Blackout Lined Curtains, but from the research I’ve done and people I know who have used them, these sound like the real deal when it comes to blackout curtains!
The double-layer effect is what prevents any light from actually seeping through the curtain itself. They are also quite the hit because there are multiple color options, allowing you to keep in line with your nursery theme!
Other Blackout Solutions
Foil and Painter’s Tape
This may sound ridiculous, but when I work with families who want to start their sleep plan right away and not wait for another blackout solution to come in, foil and painter’s tape is my go to recommendation!
Simply stretch the foil frame to frame, slightly overlap the foil, and put tape anywhere the foil meets the window, and anywhere the foil meets the foil, and it’s instantly dark.
When we moved around quite a bit last year, the first thing we did when we arrived to each new space was put up the foil and painter’s tape so Olivia would sleep well for her naps and bedtime.
And before we had two SlumberPods, we never traveled without foil and painter’s tape!
(Some people use black poster or black trash bags instead of foil…but I’m a foil girl through and through.)
While I’ve not personally used the Redi Shade, I’ve heard from others that they are a great solution, as well!
This is another type of blackout “curtain” that you can cut to fit your particular window size.
It comes in a variety of colors, it’s easy to pull up, and you can still hang fun curtains in front of it!
Pro-tip: Cut the shades slightly larger than window frame to avoid any extra sunlight creeping in the sides.
Blackout Window Film
This is another product that I have not personally tried, yet a former family I worked with reached out to let me know they found this Blackout Window Film and love it!
We got these and they’re fantastic. They block out everything, and they’re so easy to put up, and they’re even reusable.
This is another blackout option that you can cut to fit the unique size and shape of your own window and hang curtains over top!
The Gro-Anywhere Blind is another great option for travel, especially.
We’ve actually used two of these blinds to cover a sliding glass door on separate occasions!
I will say, however, this is not a total blackout solution, but it gets incredibly close. The suction cups make it quick and easy to attach to a window, and the Velcro in between allows you to better fit the size of the window.
We have friends whose kids were a bit nervous in the SlumberPod, and after borrowing the Gro-Anywhere Blinds from us, they were sold and now don’t travel without them!
If you have blackout curtains that truly darken the room, but light comes through the sides…
Velcro could be your best friend!
If you have true blackout curtains but light sneaks out the sides, a hack that will allow you to keep those curtains yet still achieve total darkness is attaching Velcro to the sides of the curtains and to the window frame.
Ta da, no more light seeping through!
I wish we could all walk down the aisles at Target, snag the cute curtains that say, “blackout” or “total darkness,” and be golden, but that’s sadly just not the case!
Having a room pitch black is not only good for our kids’ sleep, but for ours, too!
And as you can see, while there are unfortunately many choices out there that just don’t do the job, there are some really great options to choose from to make sure your child’s bedroom at home stays totally dark, as well as their sleeping environment while you’re away, so everyone can continue getting great rest.
Please note that this blog post contains some affiliate links.