When a family comes to me with their sleep issues, I ALWAYS start by asking this question “How dark is their sleep space?”. This is because the sleep environment and how dark it is plays a huge role in our body’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
So why exactly does this matter? After 3-4 months, our bodies start consistently producing the hormone melatonin, the “sleepy hormone” that helps to regulate our circadian rhythms or our “body clock”. This helps us feel like it’s time to sleep at nighttime and time to be awake during the daytime. Little ones are so sensitive to light that even a tiny bit can make a big impact!
I started out thinking that I could get away with my kid’s rooms just being dark, that it was good enough but learned very quickly that PITCH black is ideal. I mean, can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face type dark! I then moved on to all of the hacks, the tinfoil (way too loud), garbage bags (looks so trashy from outside and I had to put them double thick to work), thick cardboard (kept falling), and blankets and scarves (I literally had this up for months- so embarrassing) before I graduated to some proper blackout solutions and I’m kicking myself for not going straight there from the start!
So, after all of my tried and failed attempts at DIY blackout solutions, I’ve created a list to help save you the time, energy and design agony (sweaty emoji) !
*Disclaimer: I'm an affiliate for the following products but I do not ever recommend products that I do not own, use, and love. All of the opinions are my own and I truly use all of these products below with my two kiddos and myself.
My favorite blackout solution for at home is the Blackout EZ blinds. Their name says it all, they perfectly black out your room and they are truly easy to use! Seriously, I installed these things in 20 minutes with a clingy baby attached to me and I hate installing things! Girl, if you can use stickers then you can install these bad boys, trust me. You can order them to fit your window, even if you have odd shaped windows, you can order them and cut them down so it’s an exact fit. They use Velcro to attach to the window frame so they’re super easy to pull down when you want to open the window when your little one is awake. I was a bit hesitant about putting sticky Velcro on our window jams (I’m a bit of a perfectionist, can you tell? Lol) but if you want them permanently down, all you have to do is use a bit of goo-gone on the sill and it’s like nothing was ever there, no drilling or holes in your walls! These window coverings have honestly been a complete game-changer for my kids’ naps!
For a blackout solution when you’re staying anywhere but home with your baby or toddler, my favorite product is the Slumberpod! A SlumberPod is a quick-assembly privacy pod that helps babies/toddlers get a good night's sleep by providing the perfect black-out environment regardless of what’s happening around the pod. They are perfect for hotel rooms, at grandma’s house, at a friend’s place, at the cabin, in the airport during a layover, or anywhere else you might be going and staying for a while! We’ve even used ours when we went over to the neighbors’ house for brunch so our youngest could get his nap in! They fit over a standard size pack-n-play or toddler travel cot allowing for easy travelling. They are safety-tested to ensure safety and prevent overheating by using air-permeable fabric. There are pockets for a monitor, sound machine, fan and extra vents on the top and sides in the 2.0 version so they literally accommodate everything that you could need!
I honestly don’t know what I would do without my Slumberpods, they’ve made life and naps on the go so stress free!!
The best all-around blackout solution has to be the SleepOut Portable Blackout Blinds! They can be used on windows of all different shapes and sizes, can go up and down in literally seconds, can be used at home or on the go and pack up into a tiny bag, I love and personally use them all of the time!
Sleepout Blackout curtains are a portable blackout solution that darkens any room in seconds. They're made from 100% blackout fabric (for real, no light passes through them at all!) and they have locking suction cups so they stay on the window until you take them off, no crashing and banging in the middle of the night when the blackout curtains fall off of the window!
I love my Sleepout curtains because they are so easy to install and won't leave marks, scratches or any trace that they were there, one alone can fit almost any size of window and you can double up on them if you have a larger than average window size. I think my favorite thing though is that there's no age-limit on them, Sleepout curtains can help anyone get a better sleep and you can use them with their child well beyond when they're in a crib or pack-n-play.
If you’re anything like me, sometimes you don’t want to be stuck in one place for naps, you also want to go to the splash pad with your older kids, for a walk with a friend or a stroller fitness class, anything basically! In this case, I reach for my Snoozeshade every time. I have a Snoozeshade Plus Deluxe that fits over any stroller but we also stretch it over the car seat to create a cozy cave when it’s naptime and we’re driving. Jack has had so many naps under this thing and Lily asks for me to put it up every time she gets in the stroller. I love our Snoozeshade even if I’m not trying to get a nap out of my kids to protect against sun, wind, insects and dust flying during our walks on country roads. I loved that I don’t have to worry about exposure to UV rays or putting sunscreen on them when we use our SnoozeShade because it blocks up to 97.5% of harmful UV rays when zipped up and 80% when it’s open! That’s a win-win for me! I use this thing so much more than I even imagined, it’s amazing!
Now, I get this one a lot from parents and grandparents too, “I don’t want my baby to get used to sleeping in the dark and not be able to sleep anywhere else”. But truly, you don’t have to stress about this! Blacking out the room to match up the sleep environment to their body’s biological needs is not creating a sleep crutch, all it does is make sure that whenever your little one sleeps in that ideal environment, they’re getting a better, less disrupted sleep! It’s also okay if they don’t have a perfect sleep everywhere, we commonly see this when toddlers go to daycare and have a nap in a super bright, super loud and stimulating environment just fine (like, seriously?!). They adapt to what’s expected of them and do their best (sleep wise) with what they’ve got! And if they don’t, this would be a good situation to implement something like sending a Slumberpod to daycare (yes, you can do that!).
The reality is, the darker the space, the better we ALL sleep, even us adults too! All of these products are ones that I use, absolutely love and only wish I would have gotten them sooner.
If you are struggling with your little one’s sleep and a pitch-black room isn’t the cause, reach out and book a free discovery call here to find out how I can help you sleep well again!
Let’s get some sleep!
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant
P.S. I also have referral codes for some of the products that I recommended above to save you some moula when picking up your own! Find them all above.