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Four Ways to Make Your Baby’s Nursery Dark

Did you know a dark room leads to longer stretches of sleep for your baby? Here’s how to make your baby’s nursery dark so you can all get the sleep you need!

baby in dark nursery

When you’re facing sleep challenges or setbacks with your baby, there are plenty of factors that could be at play. 

Disruptions caused by sleep regressions and developmental milestones (like baby rolling over in their sleep) can’t be completely avoided, but their impacts can be mitigated.

I’ve found that the best way to decrease the drama around sleep setbacks is to set your baby up for sleep success early! You can do this by optimizing their nursery with these baby nursery must haves.

When it comes to your baby’s sleep, one of the easiest things to control is the environment around them. You can optimize their sleep environment from the beginning to ensure they are on the path to better sleep.

Lots of new parents agonize over creating a safe sleep space in the nursery, choosing the right bassinet or crib, dressing baby for sleep at the ideal temperature, and perfecting the ideal baby sleep schedule and sleep routine.

But allow me to shed light on something that parents often overlook: how dark your baby’s room is!

Here are four ideas on how to make the nursery dark and signal to them that it’s time to settle in for a nice long sleep!

Four Solutions to Make Baby’s Room Dark

how to make baby's nursery dark using blackout curtains

1. Nursery Blackout Curtains

One of my favorite must-have registry items are blackout curtains for the nursery

We used them with my daughter and they were a game-changer when it came to longer naps and longer sleep-ins!

There are many benefits of blackout curtains including that they can help create an environment that allows your baby to avoid overstimulation when it’s time to sleep. The darkness allows their little brains and bodies to rest!

It’s important to remember that not all blackout curtains are created equal in terms of light-blocking capabilities. It might take some trial and error, especially if you have a specific aesthetic in mind.

We went through several different kinds of blackout curtains. After extensive research, here are a few of my favorites.

  • Nicetown Full Shading Curtains: These are the curtains we currently have in my daughter’s room and we love them. There are tons of lengths and colors to choose from, and they have an awesome black lining on the back keeps the sun out!
  • CHICOLOGY Cordless Shades: If you don’t have much room on either side of the window or you aren’t allowed to put holes in your walls, consider using blinds instead of curtains. This option is cordless (super safe for babies!) and light-blocking, and reviewers say they’re simple to install.
  • Tee Pee Joy Curtains: Let’s be honest, one of the most enjoyable things about designing a nursery is making it as cute as it is functional! Tee Pee Joy has blackout curtains with tons of adorable prints to choose from, and the lengths are customizable to fit a variety of nursery styles.
Sleepout Portable Curtain to make baby's nursery dark

2. Sleepout Portable Curtain

Once your baby gets used to sleeping with blackout curtains, you might wonder how to travel without them. That’s what makes the Sleepout Curtain a favorite for so many families!

The Sleepout Curtain is portable, so you can hang it in your baby’s nursery and easily take it with you when you travel.

What I love about the Sleepout Curtain is that you can install it horizontally or vertically, and it’s modular so it can adjust to fit smaller windows. 

As a bonus, the curtain adheres using suction cups, so it’s easy to put on and take off without leaving any sticky residue behind.

The Sleepout Curtain is also a great choice if you’re in a rental or an apartment and need a non-permanent curtain option.

The ease and functionality of it make the Sleepout Curtain one my baby travel essentials for sleep!

It’s because your movement and walking throughout the day would lull them to sleep!

SlumberPod to make nursery dark

3. Use A SlumberPod

If you’re looking for a way to make your room dark without curtains, let me introduce you to the SlumberPod!

If window treatments can’t block out all the ambient light in the room, or if you still share a room with your baby, the SlumberPod privacy pod is a great light-blocking option.

The SlumberPod or the new SlumberPod HomeBase fits over your baby’s bassinet or crib, and blocks out the light for your baby while allowing you to keep the lights on in the room.

It’s also a great item to have on hand if you plan to travel a lot and share a room with your little one. Not only does it block out light, it also keeps you out of sight from baby so you’re not a distraction at bed time!

The SlumberPod fits over a standard play-yard or travel crib, and comes with poles to assemble, similar to a mini tent.

Families love the SlumberPod because it’s 100% blackout, made from breathable fabric, and has a flap you can open and close, making it easy to check on your baby or change them in the middle of the night.

DIY how to many nursery dark

4. DIY Solution

When people say having a baby is expensive, they’re not joking! All the baby gadgets and products certainly add up.

But if you’re handy and determined, there are some low-cost hacks to make baby’s room dark! Here are a few different ways you can DIY your own blackout solution in your baby’s room:

  • Black garbage bags: Listen, I know this sounds very un-glamorous. But if you’re in a pinch and need to use something on-hand to block out the light, chances are pretty good you’ve got some black garbage bags around the house!
  • Aluminum foil: Another material that you’re likely to have on-hand is aluminum foil. We actually used this in our daughter’s room in a rental once! We may have gotten some strange looks from the neighbors, but it totally did the trick and it was 100% blackout. Just keep in mind that the foil tends to get hot in direct sunlight, so don’t use it when temps are hot!
  • Black poster board: If you need to blackout windows temporary, perhaps the most aesthetically elegant DIY solution is to cover the window with black poster board. You might have to double up (depending on the poster board thickness), but luckily the material is easy to cut and fit to the window.
how dark should my baby's room be for sleep?

How Dark Should My Baby’s Room Be for Sleep?

In my opinion, the darker you can get your baby’s room, the better!

To check if your baby’s nursery is dark enough, do the hand test.

Close the curtains/blinds and turn off the lights and put your hand out in front of you. If you can still see your hand, the room isn’t dark enough!

Why Does a Dark Room Contribute to Better Sleep?

Darkness is scientifically proven to help sleep in both babies and adults. 

Ready for a crash course in sleep science?

Given the right conditions, our bodies produce a sleep hormone called melatonin. Darkness actually signals to our pineal gland that it’s time to produce melatonin.

When we’re in the dark, melatonin sends signals to our brains that it’s time to sleep. On the flip side, exposure to light can actually inhibit melatonin production.

That’s why it’s important to limit light in the room when it’s time for sleep!

Most babies thrive with an earlier bed time sometime between 6:00-8:00 pm. When the time changes in the spring and as we head into the summer months, it can be especially tricky to get your baby’s room dark enough at bed time.

I get it! I would have trouble going to sleep if I knew the sun was still up, too. 

And the other end, any light coming in from the morning sun can also stimulate your baby and bring them out of an already-light sleep during those early morning hours.

If your baby is waking too early, the first thing to check is how dark their room is.

how to make nursery dark

Should My Newborn Sleep in a Dark Room?

Some parents wonder if they should have their babies nap in the dark, too. It’s been my experience that although babies don’t need it to be super dark during nap times, it really can’t hurt!

In most cases, a dark room during nap time actually helps your baby get all of the rest that they need during the day. And since sleep begets sleep, that means they’ll sleep better at night, too.

Should newborns sleep in a dark room?

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to make your baby’s nursery dark to optimize their sleep. If you have a favorite blackout solution to make your child’s room dark, share it in the comments below!

Amy Motroni