How (and When) to Introduce a Toddler Sleep Training Clock

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Remember the days when you jumped out of bed eager to start the day?

It’s probably been at least a couple of decades since every morning felt like Christmas, and when each sunrise was a new adventure, and you never knew what gifts the day would bring.

Kids, especially toddlers are notorious for rising early and resisting naptime because they don’t want to miss out on all the fun.

However, as wise parents, you know that they must get their sleep, and you need to also set boundaries, so they know when it’s time to sleep and time to get up.

Since toddlers can’t tell time yet, some genius companies have invented something called a toddler clock. In this article, we’ll explain what this miraculous product is and give you helpful tips on how to introduce a toddler clock.

What is a Toddler Clock?

Think of a toddler clock as kind of a reverse alarm clock. For adults, our alarms tell us when it’s time to get up and get our tails out of bed. However, babies don’t often need prompting to wake up. In fact, it’s the opposite. They need guidance about when it’s time to sleep.

A wake clock for toddlers helps kids tell time with images rather than numbers. And instead of having to decipher the meaning of a bunch of different symbols, most toddler clocks have only two modes: sleep and wake.

The device works by having different images on the display to signify when your baby should stay in bed and when it’s okay to get up. For example, a picture of a sun may mean it’s time to rise and shine, while a picture of a moon communicates that it’s still sleepy time.

For naps, colors are often used. Red means stay in bed, while green means it’s okay to get up and tell mom and dad to make pancakes.

toddler is sitting on the carpet

When to Introduce a Sleep Training Clock

The typical age that these devices are recommended is between two and three years old, with most experts stating that two-and-a-half is the ideal time. Your baby has to be old enough to understand the concept in order for it to work properly.

How to Introduce a Wake Clock

Get Your Toddler to Buy into It

Toddlers are a little bit stubborn, in case you hadn’t noticed. Our top tip on introducing a wake clock is to involve your little one in the process of setting it up. You can also encourage buy-in by giving it to them like it’s a present. Or explain that Mommy and Daddy also have one, and that’s what big boys and girls have to tell them when it’s time to get out of bed.

Talk it Over

It may take some getting used to, especially if your little one is used to waking up and getting out of bed whenever they feel like it. That’s why we encourage you to explain the concept clearly, show them how to use it, and discuss rewards and consequences for following the rules properly.

One tip we think is genius is to practice and do roleplaying to show your young child what to do during sleep and wake times.

Positive Reinforcement

Encouragement and reward for a job well done can go a long way to encourage compliance. Whether it’s praise, stickers or extra playtime at the park, show your toddler you mean business by sticking to a system that rewards good behavior.

toddlers is having fun on playground

Review and Repeat

Every day is a new opportunity to reset. If the first couple of days didn’t go so well, get creative with other tactics and learn from what works and doesn’t work based on the experience of the day.

Don’t Give Up

It’s going to take practice. Some kids take to the idea right away and love the structure and guidance, while others will fight you every step of the way. Remember, you’re the parent, and the final authority. Keep at it, and don’t give up! Your little one will catch on with a little practice (and positive reinforcement).

Be Consistent

Take the wake clock with you during travel, and if you have a couple of slipups and your little one ignores the rules, don’t sweat it. Try again the next day. Above all, be patient, and try not to envy them for being able to spring out of bed early with no concept of what a snooze button even is!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are toddler clocks safe?

Yes, these products are safe and won’t harm your baby. We do recommend keeping them out of reach unless you’ve purchased a brand that’s meant to be handled (some make funny faces when you push the buttons). If you have a baby Einstein on your hands, they could potentially alter the settings, so keep it in sight but away from their mischievous hands.

Are there apps available to use them?

If you’re hesitant to shell out the cash for a toddler clock, there are indeed apps you can download for around $0.99. They perform the same functions as a wake clock, but all you need is a smartphone.

parents are having fun with their child

At what age should kids wake up on their own?

Every child is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. Some kids are probably going to need help longer than others.

Once a child is old to understand the concept of there being certain times to be awake and asleep based on Mommy and Daddy’s schedule (between two and three years old), you can begin training them to wake up at the right time.

After they’ve demonstrated that they can use the wake clock effectively, they may start sharing their experiences and expressing excitement about waking up before or after the designated time while demonstrating the desired behavior. Once they’re on a consistent schedule, they may be able to wake up on their own. This could be as early as three years of age or as late as when they enter kindergarten.


One thing we didn’t have room to discuss in this article is that a toddler clock helps prevent mom and dad from being the “bad guy.” No longer do you have to be the one to tell your stubborn little bundle of joy that it’s not time to get up yet. This device does this task for you! Granted, it isn’t a substitute for sleep training, but it is a useful tool that can help your toddler respect nap and sleepy time.

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Author: Sleep Advisor

Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.

Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.

The Sleep Advisor