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, each sunrise was a new adventure, and you never knew that gifts the day would bring.
Toddlers are especially notorious for rising early and resisting naptime because they don’t want to miss out on all the fun.
However, as a parent, you know that your child needs sleep for healthy growth and development. While challenging, it’s important to set boundaries so they know when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to rise.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 may need help with morning wake up times longer than others.
Once a child is old enough to understand the concept of bedtime and wake time (around the age of two or three years old), you can begin implementing a sleep training clock to help them.
After they’ve learned to use the wake clock effectively, you may even notice that their sleep starts to regulate and they naturally start waking right around the time their wake clock is set for. Once they have followed this consistent schedule for some time, they may no longer need the clock to wake at the desired time.
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.
Jill Zwarensteyn is the editor for Sleep Advisor and a certified sleep science coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.
Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.
She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.