Blackout shades rarely ever make it on baby checklists. Maybe it’s shopping fatigue, from the hundreds of items that had to be selected for the baby shower. Bouncer vs swing? Sleep sack vs receiving blanket? What the heck is a swaddle anyway? Blackout curtains, for the nursery or travel, certainly aren't a new mom's first concern, although they ought to be.
What’s the hardest thing about having babies, anxiety aside?
Actual fatigue usually sends parents scrambling to cover all bases. And I’m not talking about “the hungover from a late night, need to sleep in until noon” type fatigue. Parents roll their eyes when their single friends exclaim “oh I’m soooo tired!”
Hmmm tired? Did you set your alarm every 2 hours, only to spend an hour trying to fix that alarm (a scream that makes your hormonal body crazy)? Then after you think you’ve jello-jiggled your baby into sleeping submission, halfway down into the crib he lets out a primal shout again.
The worst time span is probably the 4-6am window, when even the baby senses it’s too late to go back to sleep properly, but it’s too early to wake up happily, which means it’s the best time to simply grumble. Usually Mommy or Daddy is frantically trying to patch together another hour of sleep, which is a losing battle as the room starts to lighten. Baby wakings every 15-30 mins in that interval, if they can be coaxed into sleeping at all, are a bit too common.
What are Babies Used to?
Before babies are introduced in the real world, they are accustomed to a dark environment 24/7, with the sound of Mommy’s heart beat and the swishing of her circulation. To help them start producing melatonin and regulate their sleep cycles, exposure to the light of day followed by dark of night is extremely important.
Darkness for daytime naps help to set the stage for quiet time, and for the first few months when babies are napping every 2 hours or so, you begin to realize just how much sleep your baby really needs. Babies are said to sleep anywhere from 15-20 hrs for the first 6 months of their lives. I hear you, I want to know which stork can bring me those babies too.
What if my baby is spoiled by the drapes?
Admittedly, some parents worry that their babies will get used to sleeping in the dark room and will never be able to sleep anywhere else. That really depends on the baby but many parents often conclude that sleep is more valuable for them and their babies in the long run. The curtains also come in handy when daylight times change seasonally. Scientific institutes recommend a quiet dark room, even for adults.
Many babies cosleep for some period of time, especially breastfed ones. Temporary blackout solutions can be moved from room to room when the transition to the crib is made. Moveable blackout drapes also come in handy for travel, either on vacation or an overnight stay at grandma’s!
There Are No Boy vs Girl Blackout Curtains
Throughout your purchasing "career" as a parent, the main question salespeople and well meaning parents will throw at you is: Are you buying for a boy or girl? This question, while practical in nature, is directed for alot of fairly indistinguishable purchases like toys, sheets, basically anything under the sun. Your child won't know the difference.
For parents who find the gender divide a bit too much, this will probably come as a relief. Whether it's curtains for your little boy or girl, don't worry, you won't have to choose pink vs blue blackout shades.
- Easy to bring for travel
- Encourages baby to maximize sleep
- Temporary change to decor
Metrics for Choosing Blackout Drapes
- Ease of Installation
A Gentle Parenting 2015 Gold winner, the Easynight Portable Travel Blackout Blind is a lightweight blind for the traveler. The XXL version folds up into the size of a bag of flour and the blinds come with a small travel bag, handy for a trip away from home.
Installation requires placing the suction cups as desired on the window and taping the blackout sheet against the cups. Size can be cut to the window's dimensions. If preferred, 3M command strips can be used to attach to the window frame.
Blinds are black on one side and silver on the other to reflect heat and light.
- Highly portable, ideal for a traveling family
- Less than 1.7lbs
- Use under existing window treatments
- If suction cups aren't sticking may need to moisten with warm water
- Not suitable for windows with damaged edges, laminated textured/patterned or leaded glass
Brought by the UK based Gro company, this blind is meant to "gro anywhere." Installation is fairly painless, consisting of arranging pre-attached suction cups on the window pane. The Velcro system allows the blind to be gathered to fit any window up to 51in x 78in. Great on the go blackout solution.
For a little nursery pizzazz, this vinyl backed curtain features a side covered with moon and stars. The room still remains dark, giving your child quality, sound sleep.
- Detachable and customizable for window size
- Full blackout blocks light even around the edges
- Use under existing window treatments
- May not work as well for windows with levers that stick out
Sealing the light around the edges is critical for true blackout shades. The Blackout EZ Window Cover, is a portable and customizable solution designed to block out light. It comes in black and white, with strong velcro that is easily installed on the window frame. According to the manufacturer, the shades can be removed and installed >2000x, offering incredible reusability for a different room or even grandma's house. It actually rolls up into a portable and at 1.5 pounds is light enough for travel.
During the day the cover can be rolled and fastened up without being taken down completely. The view from the outside is a white shade, which reflects heat. As an added benefit the cover may even block out wind, heat, additional dust or pollen.
Designed by a former night delivery driver, these shades were created with the day sleeper in mind.
The Achim Vinyl Pleated Shades are a highly affordable solution for blocking light in the nursery. The pleated blinds add a decorative touch, and they do keep the room dark and cool for the kids to sleep.
Made out of vinyl, these shades are easily wiped clean. They are likely a bit more durable than paper ones.
Adjustable using scissors to trim, there's also a push button to unlock the cord that lower and raises the shade. It opens with an easy Installation is peel and stick, which makes them really easy to install.
- Comes in pack of 6 for multiple uses
- Semi-permanent shade
- Blocks 99% of light for UV and light protection
- Does not appear to be made for reinstallation
- Pleating vulnerable to movement from indoor air
An affordable solution is the Blackout Pleated Paper Redi Shade, a pack of 6 shades that can be trimmed to fit windows. These shades are suitable for bedrooms, bathrooms, any rooms that require a bit of privacy or darkness. Redi shade, the manufacturer, has been manufacturing window covers for 25 years. Made of durable paper, installation is a simple peel and stick, though the shades don't seem to be designed for repeated removal and re-installation.
Clips are included for ease of lowering and raising the shade. The shade itself is pleated, with a choice of black or white. This option likely has less insulation value than the others.
A bit of extra sleep seems priceless to most parents, especially during those newborn days. We all do what we can to get by.
What are your biggest concerns when it comes to finding blackout curtains?