This post is sponsored by Conair.
I’ve touched on it before, but we’re serious about sleep at our house. We start getting our girls on sleep schedules at 6 weeks–it’s not always an easy process–but once they get it, they’re set for life. Ours really thrive on lots of sleep and so do Chris and I. I’ve recently mentioned that I started using the bedtime feature on my iPhone which is basically an alarm for going to bed to make sure I get a full 8 hours in. It’s changed my life.
I always get a lot of questions about Polly’s sleep schedule. At 9 months, she loves a full 14 hours of sleep at night, sleeping from 6pm to 7:30-8am and also taking two 2-hour naps during the day (10-noon and 2-4). Our older girls get ready at 7, with lights out at 7:30 and wake up between 7 and 7:30, if you’re curious. However, ever since the days started getting longer, and now that she is much more aware of her surrounding, the sun has started interfering a bit. Her room is west facing and the sun literally sets right into her room, shining its face on the wall all the way down. Sometimes, I’d peek in on her on the video monitor and see her playing with the sun on the wall instead of sleeping! On those nights, she’d be so cranky in the morning.
While we have a blackout roman shade, we decided to add blackout curtains, as well, to block the extra rays at night that sneak out the sides. Some kids can sleep in any conditions; Polly sleeps well in a dark, warm room with white noise. That’s her formula.
We went with these basic, but high quality, blackout white curtains from Pottery Barn Kids. The material is nice and thick and the blackout liner isn’t plastic or rubbery like a lot of the other ones are. We also ordered this umbra curtain rod (in brass) which is my FAVORITE rod and we’ve used it a bunch of times in different finishes, and corresponding curtain clips. Even though the curtains have back tabs, curtain clips feel safer in a nursery setting. If a child yanks on them, they’ll just come unclipped, instead of potentially pulling a whole rod down on themselves.
Chris installed the rod, with heavy duty anchors, just the same. Immediately I remembered why we opted out of curtains initially, drilling into the wallpaper was painful, but I kept the end game (a happy, fully-rested baby) in mind and got through it.
After the rod was up, we clipped up the curtains and I pulled out my favorite tool from the arsenal. Our Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam steamer. I’ve chatted this thing up in several posts before but I can’t get over how awesome and easy it is. You just add water, turn it on, I always turn on the turbo boost and in 40 seconds (!!) it’s hot and steamy and ready to remove all the wrinkles without battling an ironing board for an hour.
Actually getting the wrinkles out of both panels took under 12 minutes, and it only took that long because I was entertaining a 9 month old at the same time. I like to pull it tight on the back and wave the steamer over a section at a time and all the creases just come right out. (Just look at the difference with the top part I did and the bottom I still have to do!)
A few of my girlfriends have borrowed it multiple times, and raved so hard about it, too. Whether you use it for clothes at home, or traveling, or steaming curtains so that you can all get a little more sleep (yup, yup, yup!)–it’s a must have in my opinion, that, shhh, is actually pretty fun, too. Considering ditching our iron all together, tbh.
But definitely the best outcome of this whole project is Polly is back to hitting the hay right at 6pm. Sound asleep, with no distractions and waking up the happiest little baby. (Nothing better!)
See all the nursery sources right here!
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How well do these blackout a room? I have standard miniblinds in the windows and was hoping that I could find a white blackout curtain that would make the room really dark. Thanks!
Okay so I finally bought one of these today. Been looking forward to it because of this post. I was actually so disappointed ????. Maybe mine is faulty? Or maybe I was doing it wrong? I used it on a dress and it took so so so long (about an hour). I was determined to make it work but it just didn’t. Any tips and tricks? I hung it on the shower rod because it was closest to the outlet.
Hi Julia! I just dug though the archives to find this post and the black-out curtains you used for Polly’s nursery. As a long time follower, it seems like just yesterday you were putting this room together for her ????.
We’re currently in the thick of it with an eight-month-old that I can’t convince to sleep…ever. Thinking it’s time to get serious with curtains (and anything else that will help!) Wondering if you’d still recommend these or if you’ve found better options while you’re decorating the new house?
Also, chuckling over some of these debates and smiling over how graceful you always are in responses. Is parenthood and parenting advice a trip or what?!
Thanks in advance! Your thoughtful choices are always an inspo and leave a lasting impression!
Hi!! I’m not finding a link working for the curtains you picked. I see other options but I’m curious what yours are and what the fabric type is. We are about to start sleep training and a dark room during the day is essential.
Hi, I was wondering if you had to hem these 96″ shorter to fit? I read on your blog somewhere your ceilings are 8ft height all throughout? Thank you.
I’m in the market for a new steamer, and I remembered this post :) Sorry if I missed it, but do you use distilled water in your steamer? Do you find you have to clean the steamer often with a vinegar solution?
2 of my kids have graduated college ( ..and support themselves now????)with the last one on his way next year.Back in the early 90’s I read a book called The Family bed..it told a funny story that I thought I share.The
The author went to do research in several countries and one was a remote African village where she stayed and got to know the families with babies and young children very well.The villagers slept with their children next to them and said they never woke up to breast feed because the baby would find the breast on there own and mother would never roll over baby.Itwas was how life was lived in the village.
One day the author showed the mother’s and fathers pictures of American, (ect) families with their babies in cribs and.The villagers drew back in horror at what they saw.The asked the author,” Why..Why would they keep thete babies in cages?”
Everyone sees things differently! It’ll be okay! Babies and toddlers are resilient..just you guys wait until they teenage years.Thats when damage can be done..Just kidding!!!
I love love love you guys, but I have to admit that I cringe every time I read about Polly’s sleep. You are not doctors, you are not parenting experts, you are simply experts at being your kids’ parents…which is wonderful! But anyone reading your blog could do the EXACT same thing as you and have different results. Every child is different. My son is Polly’s age almost exactly and is a very, very different sleeper than she is even though I have the same sleep philosophy as you do. I also want to say this very delicately, and I hope that it comes across that way, but the tone in which one could read your writing when you write about Polly’s sleep is perhaps not how you want it to come across at all, nor how you intend it. I am also sleep deprived, so I’m particularly sensitive to this and I’m guessing anyone else reacting to you/Polly’s sleep is in the same boat, or has a lot of emotions tied up to that phase of life. Sleep deprivation makes you crazy. Obviously, you do you, and I hope this comment was as respectful and constructive as I hoped it would be.
Hi Zoe, I just wanted to offer you solidarity on the sleep front. My third baby is almost four months old right now. I value sleep SO MUCH and have done “everything right” in terms of creating an environment for good sleep (blackout curtains, white noise, nice bedtime routine, etc), but all three of my kids have been frequent night wakers. My older two kids didn’t sleep through the night until they were around 18 months old (and my youngest babe is still up several times each night to nurse). I think some parents get really lucky with easy sleepers and others have babies/kiddos who are more high needs regarding sleep or just developmentally take longer to be ready for sleeping well independently. Functioning through the sleep deprivation involved with having babies who wake a lot during the night has been by far the hardest part of parenting for me. I’m sending you good wishes for more sleep. <3
Would you say these curtains are stark white or do they have a hint of cream at all to them? I need some, but I need a touch of cream. The sun is getting to me too!
Kind of interesting your take on Sleep, my son slept about 12 hours as a kid, and I thought it was what he inherited from me because I don’t sleep a lot, now when I sleep more than 6 hours I get sick. at 4 years old would you say he’s too old to start learning to sleep more?
We have oil rubbed bronze hardware (door handles, cabinet hardware etc) and light fixtures throughout our home but I love the look of these gold/brass curtain rods. Do you think they would look nice in our home with the oil rubbed bronze or do you think it would clash/be too busy and we would be better off going with oil rubbed bronze curtain rods too?
Can you please share where the Roman black out shades are from in Polly’s nursery?
Thanks Julia! Just wondering if you’re still giving Polly a bath as part of her nightly routine?
My daughter has small windows. Would I still need to buy 2 panels for each ?
Word to the wise, start steaming from the bottom, because the steam rises and helps unwrinkle the top :) cut those 12 minutes to 8!
How long are your curtains? I’m going to get some today. Do they close all the way or just on each side? Also some of these sleep comments are so judge-y! Good for you for prioritizing your kid’s sleep!
I love your blog and how open you are with your home and family. You mentioned in a previous post aboutPolly that you needed to transition her into formula. Do you mind sharing what kind of formula Polly takes? Im new mama and worried my milk supply is decreasing so I’m looking into other options.
My mom lives in Monterrey, and we know and love your sister Andrea! She raves about Andreas sleep schedule she’s set for little David! Do you use the same tactics? I need a book or something to read because I only have one two year old and he literally has never slept, his whole life. Waking up anywhere from 5-20 times a night. I’m so sleepy deprived! Please tell me you have a book I can read it a class I can take! We do have black out curtains and white noise and I’m not sure there’s much that can be done now with my two year old… But I’m hoping with the next one I’ll be better prepared. Thanks in advance!
Emily, We had a super difficult sleeper as well, very similar: very inconsistent wake times all over the night – 3-17 times waking, (we’d usually lose track after the 11th time…), she would take forever to get back to sleep. We had been doing all the good sleep habit things (start early, keep the same routine, low energy, white noise, dark room, etc. etc) to no avail. We absolutely avoided any efforts to ‘cry it out’ as that didn’t jive with us. The best book we read was by the Sleep Lady (her nickname, you can google her): https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=the+sleep+lady+book&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=174209541059&hvpos=1t1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=9813325656126613805&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9019688&hvtargid=kwd-10298573185&ref=pd_sl_8yw2ljs8dd_b
I talked to so many parents and found less than 5% have a similar experience. Our daughter was down to waking once per night once she turned four and yes, I still have many ‘feelings’ about that time in our life. Besides reading that book and trying the Sleep Lady method, I recommend lots of grace on yourself and do what you need to get the sleep that you and your little one need (even if that means breaking the ‘rules’!). Hugs and all the best to you!
I got the cheaper version of the conair steamer and it works so well too! It got out the wrinkles in my linen curtains even better than my iron. I was so thrilled!
I love the look of the curtains and rods!! I may try to recreate it in my nursery as well. Do you have any tips for measuring the curtains? Do you measure when the rod is installed? Did you have to hem your curtains?
How do you handle being at home every night by 7pm, or earlier, to get the kids to bed? My 11 month old goes to bed by 7:30pm every night, but it’s a struggle sometimes as we aren’t always home then if we go out to dinner or to a friend’s. What about in the summer time when the kids are out of school and playing outside later for your older girls? Do they stick to the routine still?
Polly looks delightful and appears to be thriving. I want to be very very careful in how I word this. You and Chris are major influencers in both the design world and to parents as well. And so with that influence also comes responsibility. You have openly discussed sleep training methods and I feel in my heart of hearts the need to comment. There are vast peer reviewed, evidence based articles that discourage sleep training and having a baby sleep away from his/her parents. As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and RN, I daily see babies that are falling off growth charts and weaning earlier than expected because of sleep training methods. Many moms milk supply cannot go even 3-4 hours without a feeding without it being devastating to supply. Some moms can go 10 hours no problem, but that is not the biological norm and what was intended for humans. Humans are carry animals, needing physical contact and frequent feeding to survive. In fact, a very popular author of a sleep training book has been taken to court multiple times over failure to thrive infants related to sleep training. As a mother who had a failure to thrive infant (not because of scheduling or sleep training), but because of other health issues, let me tell you it is awful. You are treated as an abuser and as you doctor hop trying to get answers you spend countless hours sobbing and searching any and all diagnosis and google to try and figure out what is going on. It would break my heart for any mother to experience this pain because of choices she made. Now, I am not saying that any baby that follows a baby led schedule is in trouble, but I caution any mother reading this that wants to successfully breastfeed to really look at how babies feed and the norm of night wakings. You are not doing a bad job if your baby wakes at night. Your baby is not a bad baby. Baby’s are smart, they know how to stay on the planet. They communicate by crying and thrive with human touch and response to their cries. It appears that working on sleep has worked for you as a family and appears to have worked for your children, but this is not always the case and moms are struggling with major post partum depression because nobody is talking about how to function on such little sleep (which is the biological norm). Nobody is discussing safe cobedding or really how to find your village to get you through the first months…heck first few years (I wasn’t anywhere normal until after my son was well over 2). Moms are fed the lies that if you work hard enough your kid will sleep and that’s just not always the case and it leads to feelings of failure as mothers. Please, please, please Julia if you’re going to mention infant/baby sleep that you also share what is developmentally normal and the spectrum that exists. I feel with great influence comes responsibility. And if anyone wants any more information about normal infant sleep there are tons of articles out there. La Leche League has an amazing book about infant sleep.
Thank you for writing this. My oldest is 9, and I used the Baby Wise method on her. Thankfully she had/has an easy temperament and everything went fine. But after looking into those studies you mentioned, I would never consider that type of sleep training again. My youngest is 15 months and she “mostly” sleeps through the night but her off nights do not bother me because I have educated myself on what is actually normal for her age.
Thank you so much for this reply. I really appreciate the input from an IBCLC especially in regards to milk supply. Julia says in the comments above they formula feed so what you said makes sense. To me, breastfeeding was more important than following a strict sleep schedule and even though my baby did wake several times a night to feed, we coslept so it was easy and I felt well rested. I felt a closer bond too, all those precious hours together. I try to have an open mind with C&J’s methods they promote so strongly, but it’s just not for me.
You must have amazing milk making capabilities! While it’s not the norm, it’s certainly a possibility and I am incredibly jealous as the only way my kid could gain even minuscule amounts of weight was to nurse every 90 minutes round the clock (all.night.long) followed by pumping and feeding him everything I pumped. I did this for 2+ years. I’m healing from the PTSD now that he’s 4, but I still find myself envious of those milk making goddesses ????????
Thank you for having the courage to post this. I agree with you, and react viscerally to the sleep training posts. At least, please acknowledge that your views and practices are controversial.
Sleep training almost always involves some form of “cry it out” which raises cortisol levels in babies. It also raises cortisol levels in mothers, but as baby’s begin to realize their cries will be ignored and not attended to, they stop crying (much the reason that baby’s in orphanages don’t cry). However, their cortisol levels do not actually decrease, though since they’re quiet a mother’s cortisol level does decrease. Longterm increased cortisol levels can lead to anxiety, depression, and declining attachment as a child/baby does not feel safe and cannot trust it’s caregivers.
Most of the sleep training also involves some sort of scheduling feeding and is almost always detrimental to breastfeeding (which the World Health Organization advocates for 2 years for both the health of the mother and child). Any sort of scheduling or trying to hold off a baby from a feed can impact milk supply, thus increasing the likelihood of weaning, which can be viewed as a public health issue.
For the prevention of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a statement advising that all baby’s sleep in a space close to their parents until at least 6 months of age. Most sleep training advises parents put children in their own room, which lab values of blood samples taken from baby’s show increasing cortisol levels.
For breastfeeding advocates and attachment parenting supporters, sleep training is viewed as a “parent first” approach and that establishing a secure bond and attachment and normal breastfeeding behavior are not the priority in a parent/child relationship. In attachment parenting, a baby’s cries will always be met by their caregiver as they are learning in the first few years of life what trust and secure attachment feels like. This secure parenting isn’t just a daytime thing, it’s responding to your child at every cry, whether at bedtime, middle of the night, or daytime.
Sleep training methods often view baby’s as manipulative and needing “to have their will broken” in order to become “good babies.” Baby’s are neither good nor bad, they’re vulnerable tiny humans who need touch and responsiveness to thrive.
At the end of the day, sleep training does not align with proponents (or scientific evidence) that supports secure attachment, trust building, gentle parenting, or breastfeeding promotion.
I hope this is a helpful, albeit very brief, overview of the controversy that exists. There really is so much more to this and so many research articles that are easy to find. Often times, new moms feel pressured that if their baby doesn’t sleep they are doing it wrong or their baby is bad and find themselves using sleep training methods or cry it out methods because they feel no other options. However for most mothers this goes against their instincts to run to their crying baby as it’s what we as mothers were created to do.
Now, on the other hand, establishing a rhythm…bath, massage, books, snuggle in a dark room routine is wonderful. Your baby begins to understand patterns this way. But any amount of leaving a baby to cry alone in a dark room can be detrimental to their heath and bonding.
It’s extreme to compare sleep trained babies to the babies in orphanages that just “give up.” Those are two completely different scenarios, and the children coming from orphanages and that haven’t been able to bond often end up with RAD. I’m acquainted with a family that adopted such a child, and his behavior is extremely different than any child that I know that has been sleep trained. His behavior is in no way comparable.
Also regarding studies on the cortisol levels of babies, the studies I’m acquainted with were conducted outside of the families’ homes and the babies’ usually sleeping places. That in itself could have raised the cortisol levels. Those studies have plenty of flaws.
Also the people I know, myself included, that have successfully sleep trained were glad they did. Why? Because their babies were happier when they were awake. I don’t think a sleep trained baby would be happier if they were that stressed and traumatized from the sleep training.
I’m not advocating one continue relentlessly with sleep training if it isn’t working after a reasonable amount of time and effort. Every baby is different of course, and some babies might
need something else. However, if a sleep trained baby seems happy and healthy, then maybe they really are those things, and there’s no need to posit that they are actually stressed, defeated, and detached from their caregiver.
I would also be cautious of making moms whose babies DO sleep well apart from them feel badly. I have 5 children. I’ve co-slept with all of them to some degree. Nursed 100% anywhere from a year to two years. Babies 4 and 5 were EXTREMELY high needs. I literally wore them, held them, nursed them or co-slept with them almost constantly. I couldn’t even take a quick shower without them crying. Car rides were like torture for them and my entire family. Well at about 5-6 months for my 4th baby and 4-5 months for my 5th baby, they suddenly couldn’t sleep next to me. We would struggle all night long. I just wanted to do the right thing and night parent and both of us get sleep. Well guess what, they seemed to suddenly NEED space. There was a little crying involved but once they started sleeping better on their own (actually in rooms with siblings usually) they were SO SO much happier. It was night and day. So, I would urge you to understand all babies are different. I was willing to continue almost constant contact with my babies but they were just done with wanting that constantly. I think people need to stop blaming others and start trusting their instincts more. Suing an author? That’s disgusting to me. Did you see the post from the mom a few up that said her (I think) 2 yr old has never slept. That’s so not healthy either. So many parents are so confused and they misread a little fussing for “oh my gosh! my baby is crying and I can’t let them cry!” It’s one thing to let a baby/child cry for a long time but some babies seriously wind down by fussing/whining for short periods. 5-10 min? Then their little bodies and brains are getting the sleep they so need for growth and development.
It was my kiddo that never slept…I mean never. The fact that we’re both still alive is a testament to the amazing village I had that got us through pure HELL. After years of doctor’s appointments, testing, surgeries, feeding therapy, you name it we’ve made it. He’s 4.5 now, has off the charts language and math skills, is the most empathetic and and loving child. I still lay with him to fall asleep each and every night. This is when he opens his soul to me…tells me what he’s worried about and his 4 year old dreams. For us, had I not listened to my instincts and listened to all the books that said he was “manipulative and needed to learn to sleep” (which many “friends” tried to convince me of) he’d be dead (or a ward of the state for neglect).
Yes, many babies are what society consider “good sleepers,” but the vast majority of babies do not sleep through the night until well over a year. And those that have babies who sleep more than the average shouldn’t feel guilty.
However, baby sleep amongst new mothers seems to be a societal measuring stick of who is doing the best job and that needs to stop. The loudest voice in the conversation seems to be the moms who have better than average sleepers which is leading so many women who have “normal” sleeping babies to question their worth as a mother and seek options that go against their natural mothering instincts.
In terms of suing the author…yes, I do believe everyone needs to use their own judgement, but the most popular sleep training book that is on the market is marketed as a medical book citing physicians. When you make bold claims that could cause harm to a helpless human being your are responsible and should face liability.
I also want to add that yes, this is a deep felt passion of mine based on years of research, schooling, and professional development. However, my heart is for moms to follow their mothering instincts, reject societal opinions and norms and really bond with their babies and thrive as a dyad. Babies are the same in 2018 as they were in the days of the cavemen, when they were held constantly and fed frequently. Being apart from their mother would have led most likely to death. They don’t know it’s 2018 and we follow schedules, have places to be, would like to sit and enjoy a glass of wine at night alone. They just have a deep seated instinctual need to be responded to as that is how they build trust and love.
I use the same Wi-fi camera system as a baby monitor. I decided that since there wasn’t an actual baby monitor that did all the things it advertised well then I would just buy two things that did exactly what they are supposed to do very well. I bundled the Yi camera with a old school Vtech audio monitor. Now that my daughter is two we stopped using the audio monitor and but the video comes in handy to see what she is up to when she is supposed to be sleeping. We’ve also caught some really priceless moments that I was able to save to my phone using the app.
How do you handle when any of your kids takes a late nap? It totally throws our night time routine off
Hi Julia – Curtains look great and you definitely made me want a little hand held steamer, ditching the iron/board sounds like a dream!
I have a question regarding curtain length in regard to window size. We have high, but wide and squat, windows in a mid-century ranch. My baby has the same issue with light leak on the sides of our black out shades. I want to add curtains but long, to the floor curtains feel like they would look funny? Do you have any advice? Thanks!
They look great in the room! We just added (not cheap) wallpaper to our nursery and I know how you feel about not wanting to put any holes in the wall…I’m dreading actually hanging the few things on the wall we want to hang! However, I thought I remember you selecting that pretty blue shade for its blackout feature…?
The hotel I was staying at recently in NYC had one of these and it was a game changer!! Took maybe 1/3 of the time to de-wrinkle my clothes from travelling than it would with an iron. Seriously considering getting one for myself now.
Also have a question for you – how do you decide at what height to hang your curtain rod? I’m looking at hanging curtains in our living room (we have blinds now) but have very tall ceilings that extend at least 2ft above the top of the window. Any advice?
Love that you are so intentional about sleep for your kids!! I think it’s great that you taught them this, so many parents complain about “my kids keep getting up and down and won’t sleep” etc.
Your 9 month old is sleeping 18 hours a day?? Are you sure that’s healthy? Have you talked to the led about that? 18 hours seems like a lot. That’s 3-4 more hours every single day than recommended.
This comment has to be a joke. I assume you sleep the 8 hours (no more, no less) “recommended” by doctors? And you eat a 1,800 calorie diet each day (no more, no less) as is “recommended” by doctors, right? Just making sure you’re “healthy”… because clearly the comments to a design blog are the place for someone to determine that.
Our wood grain Shaker cabinet fronts were designed for busy, high-traffic homes like ours. Clad with durable textured thermofoils, this line is compatible with Sektion, Akurum, Godmorgon, and Besta cabinets from IKEA. It's the perfect, practical way to add the warmth of wood to all the rooms of your home.
We have teamed up with Loloi to create a line of rugs that are as affordable as they are beautiful. This collection houses a great mix of traditional and modern rugs, in cottage-y colorways, as well as vintage-inspired beauties that you’ll want to roll out in every room.
We partnered with Stuga on a line of hardwood floors — The Ingrid is really livable, and the color is very neutral. It doesn’t lean warm or cool, it’s that just right in-between. We have really loved putting it everywhere in our house. It’s the best jumping-off point for design, no matter your interior style. In addition to being beautiful, Ingrid is really durable — we have three kids, and we always have a home construction project going on. Ingrid stands up to it all.
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