Updated: Mar 30
A toddler sleep trainer clock can act as a night light and more importantly, be a visual aid to help resolve an early morning wake up and encourage easier settling at bedtime Read on for my top tips when introducing a toddler clock.
~ Ensure it's age appropriate - I wouldn't introduce this earlier than 2 years 3m. Your toddler needs to have the comprehension to understand the colours and associated rules. i.e. blue means bedtime, stay in bed (or cot), yellow means daytime and it's ok to get up
~ Learn how the clock and it's settings work yourself before trying to teach your toddler about it!
~ Explain the rules of how the clock works through roleplaying with your child during the day, so they already understand the rules when it comes to bedtime that evening.
~ When roleplaying, just as if it's bedtime, pull the curtains / blinds closed, read a book and have the clock set for nighttime. Ask your child to close their eyes to pretend they are asleep. You could do this together with one of their dolls / toys if you prefer. Stay like this for a minute or so, then manually alter the clock so it changes to the daytime colour. Celebrate that your child (or their doll) stayed in bed until the clock changed colour to daytime - yay!
~ They really need to understand the rule is to stay in bed until the clock "wakes up". The also need to understand the consequence - if they get up before , they’ll be taken straight back to bed. Reinforce to your child that they are a big boy / girl now and you know they are clever enough to stay in bed until the clock wakes up.
~ By now, you've showed your toddler how the clock works. So what time should you set it for in the morning? If your child usually wakes at 5am – as much as you won’t like to do so, you need to initially set their clock to “wake up” at 5am. This encourages the positive feedback loop / gratification they will get from achieving the goal to stay in bed until the clock “wakes up”. It's optional to give them a reward such as a stamp, sticker or an M&M for the first couple of weeks while they are getting used to following the rules.
~ The key here, is to very very gradually move the time closer to your desired wake up time. The next day you might keep it at 5am, or make it 5.05am. It will likely take quite a few weeks to get to 6.30/7am.
There are reasons why your sleep trainer clock may not appear to work - see below
➡️ The time to “wake up” on the clock is unrealistic for your child at this point in time, or you’ve moved the time too close to 6.30/7am too quickly
➡️ Your child may be having too much day sleep or be getting into bed to late in the evening which is contributing to waking early
➡️ Lack of consequences or following through on consequences (of repeatedly taking your child back to bed) if they do get up before the clock “wakes up”
➡️ You’ve placed the clock within reach of your toddler and they’ve changed the settings causing it to wake up before the time that had been set on it!
Which clock to get, when there are so many to choose from?
This often comes down to budget. Kmart offer an economical option & shopsnoose.co.nz offer a premium blue tooth version with a dimmable light. (Little Sleep Coach clients can receive a 15% discount on this). There are many options in between too. Any clock is likely to be a very effective tool when it's implemented correctly and consistently : )