Using a toddler clock has become a more popular “tool” in a parent’s sleep tool kit and I have to admit that I am a huge fan.  When solidifying sleep rules with a toddler or preschooler, the clearer our expectations and the simpler we are able to communicate them, the less our toddlers tend to resist (over time!) as they learn to rely on our boundaries rather than push against them.

A toddler clock does a beautiful job of taking the onus off of us, the parents, with respect to when a period of sleep (whether it be night sleep or naps) ends and putting it onto the clock.  Now it’s not mum or dad being the bad guy that the day has yet to start or nap/quiet time has yet to end, but rather it’s all on the “sun”, “bunny” or “green light” (depending on which clock you choose).

toddler clock When is a Good Time to Start Using A Toddler Clock?

  • The general consensus is that a little one aged two years or older would benefit from having this a new part of their routine.  In my personal experience, if you feel your child is ready a little younger (18-24 months), then I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
  • Don’t be afraid to introduce it with older children as well!  The concept resonates with both younger and older children who are not yet able to tell time on a clock.
  • As with any new experience or tool, it will likely take your child a few days to a couple of weeks to fully appreciate the concept of the toddler clock, but with your utmost consistency, it will soon be a very familiar start to their day.

Making it a Part of Your New Routine

  • Don’t just start using the toddler clock and hope that it will resonate with your child.  In order for your child to have a positive relationship with the clock, you’ve got to do some toddler clock marketing beforehand
  • Introduce the clock to your child – show them what it looks like “when the sun comes up” on the clock itself, explain to them that mum and dad will come get them as soon as it’s up and coach them about what to do if it isn’t up.  They may lie quietly with their eyes closed and let their body rest.  Once the “sun has come up”, then let mum and dad know and they’ll be right there!

Start As You Mean To Go On

  • Once you start using it, even if your little one doesn’t take to it right away, don’t give up.  It could take a couple of weeks for them to start buying into the concept and it might mean that despite having the toddler clock within their view, they aren’t impressed and still want to start their day the moment that they wake.
  • Hold steady and stay committed to starting the day or ending the nap only when the clock indicates that it’s time.   When choosing the time, whether it be to end a nap or start your day, be sure that it’s complimentary to their sleep/rest needs.
  • It’s important to be patient and consistent – otherwise your “rules and expectations” hold very little meaning.  And when negotiating with a toddler, that’s not a great position to be in! Keep at it and use it with confidence – remember that confidence is contagious!

Using It Safely

  • Is there anything more enticing to a toddler than buttons?  Be sure the clock and it’s cord are well out of reach of your child’s crib.
  • If it’s placed on top of a dresser or table, be sure that the piece of furniture is firmly strapped to the wall.

Which Toddler Clock to Choose?

  • Some popular brands include the “Groclock”, “Okay to Wake Clock” and the “KS Sleep Clock”.  When deciding what will work best for your child, consider whether you are able to completely shut off the light on the face of the clock (as you can with the Groclock) as this would be relevant for younger toddlers who are not expressing a fear of the dark and whose sleep environment we still want to keep extremely dark.  Or whether having battery power will be more suitable for having one that can travel when you do (as both the Okay to Wake and KS “Globetrotter” clocks do).

Written by Good Night Sleep Site Consultant.

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