Our blog series featuring our readers’ favorite baby sleep products continues with your picks for blackout shades and curtains. Read our first post, about swaddles and wearable blankets, and check back soon for more posts about white noise machines/gadgets and sleep spaces (including baby carriers).
We can never emphasize enough how important it is to keep your baby’s sleep environment cool, dark and quiet for optimal sleep. While the first installment of our series covered swaddles and blankets that will keep your little one snug and comfortable in a slightly cool room (65–70 degrees), this post is all about helping you achieve the darkness that is essential for protecting your baby or toddler’s circadian rhythm and maintaining (or establishing) a consistent sleep schedule.
Before we get started, a few disclaimers:
**Please make sure that you’re familiar with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) safer sleep guidelines (found here) so you can make informed decisions about your little one’s sleep safety.
**Also, please note that, although the Baby Sleep Science team has reviewed the product information for everything listed below, we do not personally test or endorse each item. Use your knowledge of sleep basics and safety guidelines, as well as your family’s preferences, to decide whether a product would be a good choice for your baby or toddler.
First, let’s talk a little about the science. Light exposure, in part, controls your child’s circadian rhythm, and exposure to light in the morning can reinforce an early morning waking. Light after bedtime, or overnight, can make it difficult for your child to fall asleep or can reinforce night waking the next night, causing a pattern of wakefulness or circadian rhythm disruption. We recommend the use of a very dim nightlight as needed for safety or comfort, but lamps, closet lights and sunlight should be avoided during overnight sleep.
We highly recommend blackout shades for your child’s bedroom for overnight sleep, especially as we head into a period of longer daylight hours during the warmer months. Blackout shades will keep your child’s bedroom consistently dark from your desired bedtime to your desired wake time. Blackout shades can also be useful during nap sleep, although not for the same reasons that they are critical for night sleep. Darkening the room during naps helps make the room less interesting and thus less distracting as your little one falls asleep. The options below, recommended by our Facebook followers, offer a range of prices and functionality so you can find the one that works best for you.
Redi-Shade Pleated Paper Shade
The Redi-Shade has long been one of our favorite blackout shades to recommend to parents, because these pleated paper shades are easy to install, easy to use and super affordable (less than $5 a pop!). When layered under regular blinds and/or other curtains, these shades help you achieve complete black-out in your child’s room, even during the brightest summer daylight hours. They can also be quickly clipped up to allow the light in during awake time.
Click the image below to check out Meg’s demonstration of how dark she made her daughters’ room using the Redi-Shade in the early afternoon:
This pricier window shade promises 100% sunlight blocking while still offering easy installation. It attaches to your window frame (not the glass) and can be removed and reinstalled daily if desired. It can be used easily under other window treatments, and with a white material facing the outside, it has a subtle appearance from the exterior of your house.
Tommee Tippee GRO Anywhere Portable Travel Baby Blackout Blind
This blackout shade was a reader favorite because it’s adjustable and can pack up easily for travel. This handy item makes it possible for your little one to still get undisturbed darkness from bedtime to wake time, whether you’re on vacation or visiting Grandma. Gone are the days of raiding your in-laws’ blanket collection to “MacGyver” some darkness in the guest room! And of course it can be used at home too.
We had to give a shout-out to the Nicetown 100% Blackout Lined Curtains, which come in a variety of sizes and colors and are very highly rated on Amazon. Also worth checking out are the various blackout curtains at Target. These work nicely when paired with a Redi-Shade or with your regular blinds. Both of these options also have “thermal” features that will help keep your little one’s room at a comfortable temperature.
So there you have it! Do you use blackout shades or curtains in your child’s room? If not, it would be well worth checking out one of the options above so your little ones (and bigger ones!) will stay well rested through the sunny spring and summer months. If you want a little bit of light for safety and security, we recommend using a nightlight with a soft, amber glow, placed across the room from your child’s bed. If your baby or toddler is struggling with sleep even in a nicely darkened room, you can always reach out to us for personalized help.
Need More Help?
We offer several options for optimizing your child's sleep:
SLEEP TRAINING CLASS (for well babies 6-15 months)
PHONE CONSULTATIONS (with one of our sleep experts)
THE SECRET TO NAPS (downloadable e-book)
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