From dry, mild winters to hot, humid summers, Australian weather differs greatly throughout the year, forcing families particularly those with young children to adapt accordingly.
This is further complicated by daylight saving changes, resulting in sleep disruptions for our little ones due to brighter evenings in summer, and darker mornings in winter.
There is one simple solution to make life a little easier: Blackout curtains, also known as block out curtains.
Curtains may seem like the least prominent feature of a baby’s room, but in this article, I’ll discuss why this underrated piece of fabric can make a big year-round difference to your family (and energy bills), especially if you have a young baby.
Why you should have block out curtains for the nursery
1) Keeps out light for better sleep
If you have young children or a shift worker in the household, blackout curtains are essential when it comes to sleep time. Made from tightly woven fabric with a heavy backing, these curtains are designed to literally block out light, creating a “blackout” when fully drawn.
While they won’t be enough to completely mimic nightfall, they will block at least 90% of sunlight, creating enough darkness in full daylight to encourage sleepiness.
Note that “room darkening curtains” are different from blackout curtains. Room darkening curtains are less effective than blackout curtains at blocking out light.
2) Blocks out heat and keeps room cooler
A lesser-known fact about block out curtains is that their thickness and heaviness also gives them thermal insulation properties. Because they prevent light from entering the room, this also means heat penetration is reduced. This keeps a room cooler in summer while midday temperatures soar.
In the colder season, blackout curtains have the reverse effect – retaining heat inside the room and slowing down heat loss so the room stays warmer for longer, particularly overnight when the external temperature can drop up by more than 10 degrees celsius.
3) Reduces energy bills
By extension of their insulating properties, block out curtains reduce your reliance on heating or cooling systems. You can get away with a lot less use of the air conditioner or heater throughout the year, simply by using blackout curtains in rooms that are most affected by rising or falling temperatures.
By helping maintain a more consistent indoor temperature, these curtains work with heating and cooling systems to be more energy-efficient. If heat loss is reduced in winter, heater thermostats can be set lower, effectively reducing the heating time.
Vice versa, in summer, when the heat is blocked out by the curtains, air conditioners can be set at a higher temperature as the indoor temperature won’t rise too quickly too much.
4) Reduces external noises
Lastly, block out curtains reduce noise by up to 40%. While they are not designed to soundproof a room, their dense fabrication does interfere with sound travel, so they do reduce noise from outside. This contributes to a more restful environment, ideal for infants or sleep-deprived parents.
The sound reduction property of blackout curtains also works both ways. Within the room, the thick fabric absorbs sound, so that less of it escapes through the walls. This essentially means that if a baby is crying inside, the cries will be “cushioned”, so you can still hear it from the next room, but it won’t travel as far, or as loudly, as without the curtains.
How to choose blackout curtains for kids room
Know the correct curtain width you need
Start by measuring the width of the window you’ll like to cover. A rule of thumb for buying curtains is that the width should be at least two times that of the window. If you’ll like to have a fuller, more pleated look, you can go up to three times the window width.
Once you know the total curtain width you require, decide on how many curtains you want. A single curtain is great for narrower or smaller windows, but for wider windows that span across an entire wall, you may need two curtains that split open in the middle.
If you are getting two curtains, divide the total width by two, and that’s the width you’ll be looking for each individual curtain.
Alternatively, you can book a free in-home measure and quote, and get 40% off custom made curtains.
Decide what kind of curtain and accessories you need
If you have a curtain track installed, your only option is pinch pleat curtains and some curtain hooks if you don’t have any.
If you have curtain pole installed, eyelet curtains will be a breeze for you to put on. They simply slip through the pole in alternating folds, without requiring any additional accessories. You can also choose pinch pleat curtains, but you will also need a pack of curtain rings in addition to the hooks.
If you have nothing installed, you can buy curtain pole sets online and they are easy to install yourself. The ones available from Curtain Wonderland come in a range of modern and vintage designs, both timber and metal. They include wall brackets, installation instructions, and are expandable in length, so will fit most if not all window widths.
Choose a colour and fabric style
This is the most fun but also probably the most time-consuming part. Block out curtains come in a range of different fabric textures, from smooth and silky to rustic and coarse.
To help you with your selection, Curtain Wonderland has a nifty colour filter feature in the top right-hand corner of their category pages. You simply select the colour you’ll like (you can choose more than one) and the search results will display all relevant options.
Where to buy block out curtains
Block out curtains are a very specific type of curtains, so unless a product indicates that it is “block out”, it’s best to assume it does not have blackout features.
Curtain Wonderland is an Australian owned business that has an extensive range of affordable block out and room darkening curtains. They have stores across NSW, QLD, VIC and WA so you can either purchase online or visit in-store.
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This was written at night while my kids are in bed. Help me stay awake so I can keep producing free & useful content for Aussie mums!