You survived – and maybe even LOVED – the magical baby years. Your baby had been sleeping peacefully through the night and you had been enjoying some much needed rest (or not…). Yet, your now very active toddler may have begun to delay – resist – even bargain, and using any and all tools to avoid getting to and staying asleep. Nap and bedtimes can turn into daily battles and to top it off your non-sleeper may now be waking long before the sunrise!
Your toddler’s world may be going through some big changes right now, but thankfully, toddler clocks can help your little one learn to stay in bed! A toddler clock can be wonderful in helping little ones understand when bedtime (or naptime) start and end. And since toddlers love to be independent (“me do it!”), you get points for enlisting their “help” in keeping the routine running smoothly. Win-win! While there are many different models and types of toddler clocks, here are five tips to get a toddler clock to work for your family:
- Be encouraging! – When wake up time comes and the light turns or the color changes to let your little one know it’s ok to get up, go in with your proudest and most excited voice and say: “Honey, you stayed in bed until it was time to wake up! Great job and what a wonderful way to start a new day. Now we have 15 extra minutes to play!”
- Stay consistent – I know you may hear this a lot, but with toddlers, consistency really is key! If wake up time is set for 6:00 am and you said the clock will let them know when it’s ok to get up, stick to it! No saying “close enough” and “disobeying” the clock, which will undermine it’s effective-ness and your efforts. Keep everything in the house quiet and dark until then. Depending on your little one’s temperament, and house rules, you can tell them to stay quietly in bed or play or read quietly in their rooms until it’s time to get up. Again, the key is to stick to the rules and be consistent.
- Start slow – If your little one is waking at 4:30 or 5:00 am (ouch!), setting the clock for 6:00 am or later on the first day is too big of a jump and will make it hard for them to be successful. To start, set the wake up time on the clock about the time they are currently waking. So, if they wake up at 5:30 am everyday on the dot, and you want them up at 7:00 am, you will set the toddler clock set for 5:30 am for the first few days, to start, for some easy successes. After that you can begin to increase the time by 15 minutes until you reach your goal. Small steps are key. It can be best to choose a clock that easily allows you change and customize settings each day when achieving your goals (like the new Ooly!)
- Make it fun and exciting! – Introduce the clock as a gift. Wrap it up and make a big deal about it! Once your little one opens it, talk about how it works and how you will use it together. Tell them about all the cool things it can do, and why they should be excited too! For example, that they’ll have a neat new light (or buddy) and that mommy and daddy will be able to play more in the morning because everyone will be getting more sleep.
- Keep them motivated – If your little one is around 2 ½ or older, a sticker chart can be great in helping with positive reinforcement. They can get a sticker each day they stay in bed until wake up time, and after so many stickers they can get a special “prize”. You might have to start with an instant gratification at first, and work your way up. The idea of getting a prize they’re excited about will keep them on target. For help getting started with a sticker chart, check out our top 10 sticker chart tips.
One of the biggest reasons toddler clocks work so well is that you can “blame the clock” and that helps diffuse any power struggle between you and your little one. You’re not the one telling your child it is time for bed, it’s the clock! This can help your little one feel more in control because they are “big” and can recognize the clock’s cues and let you know that it’s time for bed! The tips above can help you get the most out of your new investment in healthy sleep for you and your little one. You’re welcome! 😉
Nicole Johnson is a married mother of two wonderful boys and owner of The Baby Sleep Site. When her eldest son was born, he had a lot of sleep problems – he would wake every one or two hours, all night long! She got busy and thoroughly researched literature and scientific reports until she became an expert in sleep methods, scheduling routines, baby developmental needs, and more. She overcame her son’s sleeping issues in a way that matched her own parenting style, and knew it was her mission to help other tired parents “find their child’s sleep”. Nicole is now a leading author and pioneer in individualized and holistic sleep coaching strategies. If you have your own sleep issues, Nicole and her team at The Baby Sleep Site® can help! Just think of them as a virtual extension of your “village.” Their services include holistic sleep coaching solutions — their signature Personalized Sleep PlanTM, and many complementary services from e-books, sample schedules, and a blog — that are built around your needs, your parenting style, and your child’s temperament. The Baby Sleep Site® has worked with more moms than anyone else out there. With 500,000 newsletter recipients, over 80,000 moms look for their expertise on Facebook, and over 30,000 in their Sleep Helpdesk. They welcome new faces to their village each and every day!
Download their signature free e-book, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night, to get started today.
Author: Nicole Johnson
President and Lead Sleep Consultant, The Baby Sleep Site, Helping You and Your Baby Sleep.