Having a baby that can sleep well through the night is a real godsend. However, in many cases it usually takes several months before this happens on a regular basis, sometimes longer. So what can parents do to encourage their baby to sleep better at night?
Installing blackout curtains is one effective strategy to help your newborn understand the difference between night and day and start forming some good sleep habits. You can purchase some blackout blinds, install blackout curtains, or just add some blackout liner to attach behind your regular curtains. Let’s look at these options in more detail.
Does a baby room need to be dark?
To promote a healthy sleep pattern, you should ensure your baby’s room is dark and quiet at night and light during the day (for the first couple of months at least).
How dark should it be?
It doesn’t need to be completely pitch black. You can use a soft plug in night light so you can see enough to pick up your baby for night feedings and changing their nappy. If you don’t want your baby’s room to be too dark, you can also choose some room darkening blinds/curtains which will let in some natural light.
Do you need blackout curtains or blinds for the baby’s room?
It’s not a necessity, but they can certainly help. Newborn babies struggle to understand the difference between night and day, so having the room darker at night and in the early hours of the morning can help establish a healthy sleep pattern. Blackout curtains can also help block out some outside noise too.
Are they bad for babies?
No, there’s no evidence they’re bad. However, just make sure you open your curtains during the day so it’s not too dark. If you have the curtains closed all the time, it can make it difficult for your newborn to establish the difference between night and day when they’re sleeping or napping. This can cause some bad sleeping habits which will adversely affect you and your partner’s sleep aswell.
Do blackout blinds help your baby sleep longer?
In some cases they should help a bit, but remember all babies are different. If your son or daughter is an early riser, particularly in the summer months when it’s lighter in the mornings, blackout blinds might help your baby sleep a bit longer. Just make sure the blackout blinds fit your window properly and there aren’t big gaps to the sides or underneath where sunlight can get through.
Having said that, some babies just wake up early and there’s not a lot you can do about it. Just tell yourself the early wakings won’t last forever!
How can I darken my baby’s room?
If you want to install room darkening or blackout curtains, it’s not much different from ordinary curtains. You have a couple of options, either attach blackout lining to your existing curtains or just install some brand new blackout curtains or blinds.
Attach blackout lining to your existing curtains
This is probably the easiest option, especially if you’re chosen some nice curtains to go with your baby’s room decor. Blackout lining will just go behind the curtains and help darken the room. It’s also a very inexpensive way of making your baby’s nursery darker. There are 2 options for attaching lining:
- You can sew them into the drapes themselves. Hem it right into the top, seam it on the sides and use a separate hem at the bottom.
- Alternatively, you can hook on the lining to the back of the curtains.
This video below explains these 2 methods in more detail.
Install blackout curtains
If you want to just install some blackout curtains from scratch for your baby’s room you’ll need:
- Blackout curtains
- Curtain rods
- Curtain knobs
- Mounting brackets and screws
- Tape measure
- Set of screw and wall plugs
- Measure the window area where you plan to install the curtain rod and curtains. You can install the rod above the window or inside the recess if the window.
- Take out the blackout curtains – check for any creases as you may want to iron those out before putting them up.
- Drill in the holes for the mounting brackets. You can start off with a pilot hole first using a smaller drill bit and then drill in the proper hole. Make sure you check what’s behind the wall though in case there are any pipes or cables.
- Add in the wall plugs (you may have to tap them in with a hammer) and screw in the mounting brackets with some screws. You can use a drill or screwdriver for this.
- Attach the curtains to the curtain rod and place the knobs at the ends.
- Place the curtain rod and curtains on the mounting brackets. (get your partner or a friend to help with this)
- Twist the setting screws on the mounting brackets into the curtain rod so it stays in place
Install blackout blinds.
For blackout blinds you’ll need the same equipment as described above for installing the curtains. However, if you have the option you probably want to install them inside the recess of the window rather than above.
- Measure the recess depth and the width/height of the window area.
- Check where you want to install the mounting brackets. If the recess area is quite shallow you may need different sized brackets. Also, make sure you choose which bracket has the sidewinder mechanism tab attached. You need to think which side you want to have the cord to lift the blinds up or down.
- Drill in the holes for the brackets. Add in the wall plugs if you need.
- Attach the blinds, but slide in the side with the cord on first.
What’s the difference between room darkening and blackout curtains?
Blackout curtains are designed to block 100% of incoming sunlight into a room, where as room darkening curtains allow a little bit of light through. If you don’t want your baby’s room to be completely dark, room darkening curtains might be a good option as they can still help your baby establish a good sleeping pattern.
How effective are blackout curtains/blinds?
It depends what you want. They’re incredibly effective if you want to stop any light coming into a room. Furthermore, the thick material can help reduce heat loss from a room, which normally escapes through the window. This can save you some money on your energy bills.
What are the pros and cons of using blackout curtains?
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of using blackout curtains.
Helps babies not wake up so early in the summer months.
We all love the summer, but one advantage of the winter is that the long nights help your baby sleep better during the night. There’s nothing worse than having a young baby wake up at the crack of dawn, when dawn is at 4am! So blackout curtains can limit the amount of light coming in the room and help keep the room darker for longer.
Reduces your energy costs
Apparently 25-30% of heat loss occurs through windows in the average home. Obviously installing new windows is the best solution, but this is a costly option. Blackout curtains are thicker than ordinary curtains and can help (slightly) to reduce heat loss.
Helps keep your room cool in the summer
If you have sunlight pouring into your baby’s room all day, it can get very hot in the summer months. Blackout blinds can help keep the room cooler by keeping out the heat from the sun.
Filter out noise from outside
Blackout curtains can also block some noise from outside. If you live near a busy road, it may reduce the noise level a little which can help your baby sleep better for naps during the day and for night-time sleep.
Thick blackout curtains will give you a bit more privacy from the outside world, as it’s possible to see into some baby rooms which just have ordinary curtains, even if it’s just your shadow. A benefit for you perhaps, although your baby won’t care!
Heavier than ordinary curtains
Blackout curtains are thicker and heavier than ordinary curtains so you may need new curtain rails to support this extra weight.
Newborn babies need help understanding the difference between night and day. Therefore a lighter room during the day, and darkened room at night can definitely help. However, once your baby has established this difference (around 2 months) you can let them nap in a slightly darkened room during the day.
Graham is a father of two who founded Dadometer to share his parenting journey with other moms and dads.