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Introducing a Sleep Clock to Your Toddler
Introducing a Sleep Clock to Your Toddler
By Babogue
Posted on June 15, 2021
Read time 5 minutes

Some toddlers can wake early in the morning at around 5:30 am. This can be challenging for parents, who would like to sleep in for longer in the morning and may struggle through the day if they are too tired. 

It is common for parents to allow their little ones into their bed or out of their crib in the morning, but this can give approval, or reinforce, to a child to get up early, and may interrupt the rest of the family. There are a number of things that parents can do to prevent their toddler from waking so early in the morning, with a sleep clock, or stay in bed device, being one of the most popular ways to help a child distinguish between morning and night. Here’s how you can introduce a sleep clock into your toddler’s routine. 

What is a Sleep Clock?

Also known as a toddler clock, a sleep clock has a device that can be interpreted by children through images, lights or displays. The visuals on a sleep clock differ depending on brand and make, but there will usually be something that a small child will understand and be able to interpret and help the child understand when it is morning. The aim of the sleep clock is to teach your little one that they can’t get up before the clock says it is morning; this way your child is less likely to try and test you but will look at the clock as though it is a factual identification between day and night. Little does your child know that you are the one controlling the time that the clock says it is morning! A sleep clock can be a great addition for your little one if you are struggling with their early waking. 

What Age is a Sleep Clock Suitable For?

A sleep clock will only work effectively if your toddler can understand what the visuals mean, and that they have to stay in bed until the clock shows it is morning. This will usually be around the age of 2.5, but depending on your childs ability to understanding the rules of the sleep clock, you are more than welcome to try it out for children as young as 18 months.

Why is a Sleep Clock so Effective?

As toddlers reach their last sleep cycle at around 5 am, which is a light phase of sleep, they can wake. However, your little one can be taught that they need to go back to sleep until around 7 am, and 5 am is not the morning time. A sleep clock can take some of the pressure off parents in having to teach their little ones to stay in bed. Introducing and explaining the clock to your toddler and letting them know that they can only get up at once the clock shows it is morning convinces them that they need to stay in their crib until the clock changes colour. The key to using a sleep clock is to introduce it gradually; don’t expect results overnight, your toddler will need to become used to the clock and learn what to expect from it.

ages for toddler sleep clock

How Do I Successfully Introduce a Sleep Clock?

The introduction of a sleep clock may take a couple of weeks, so it is important that you are patient and consistent when introducing the clock to your child. 

The first important step when trying out a sleep clock is to sit down with your toddler to explain the clock and why they need to look at it when they wake. Instilling boundaries is also a vital part of using a sleep clock successfully; if your little one continues to make a fuss and wake the family up before the clock shows morning, you shouldn’t let them out of the crib into your bed for cuddles. 

The best way to successfully introduce a sleep clock is to set morning to around 10 to 15 minutes after the time your little one usually wakes up during the first couple of days. For example, if your child is waking at 6 am and you want to try and get them to stay in their crib for another hour, set the sleep clock to change to morning for 6:10 am on the first day. This means that once your little one wakes at 6 am and they look at the clock, they won’t have too long to wait until they see it is morning. This should gradually increase each day, or every few days, by 10 minutes, so you will need to change the clock’s morning time regularly. Eventually, you can have the sleep clock change to morning at 7 am, and your toddler should be okay with it. 

Once your little one begins to understand the sleep clock and waits until it shows morning to get up, make a big thing about congratulating them and rewarding them for their good behaviour. 

Get More Sleep with Babogue

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Erica at Babogue is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant who has worked with thousands of families across the globe to get more sleep. With a family of her own, Erica completely understands the range of problems that can occur with sleep while children and growing and developing and can provide exceptional tips to ensure a better and longer night’s sleep for the whole family. Find out more about Babogue’s sleep series online and get in touch to start your journey to better sleep.

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