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Sleep Clocks for an early riser

February 4, 2010

Do you have an early riser? Or a child that comes to your room way before he should be? Sleep clocks might be a good solution for you.  We had a newborn and our 2 year old son was getting up at 4:30 or 5am, ready to play. A sleep clock seemed the obvious answer, though it seemed absurd to buy a clock for a 2-year old. We quickly learned he didn’t need to tell time and that it wasn’t so ridiculous after all!

Digital clock:
One friend simply used a small digital clock, with paper covering up the minutes numbers. Taped above the clock was the number 7, so when she saw that the number on the clock matched the 7 above it, she knew she was allowed to get up.  That worked for them when the daughter was 2-ish, way before it would have been possible for us.  We use the digital clock now for our son who is 4 years old. He knows not to get up or wake his sister before the clock says 6:00. We have gradually set the clock behind, so when he thinks it’s 6:00, it’s actually 6:43am, way later than I could have hoped.
Pros: you already probably own it, cheap, worth a shot before ordering one of the other options
Cons: your child needs to understand matching or know her numbers

“Sleep” clocks
There are several options.  Parents can set a time at which a picture changes or a light comes on or something happens indicating to the child that it’s appropriately morning. Most have some other features, like a song, changeable faceplates or color schemes to match your décor and the ability to be an alarm clock or a night light or a game. These clocks tend to be pricey, but most of us would pay a pretty penny to give the family more sleep.
Pros: more sleep!
expensive for a child’s clock, some have too many “features”

Here are a few possibilities:


Cost: $60 with shipping to the US (give or take, price in British pounds)
What it is like: The Kidsleep product works by showing lit-up pictures when it is time for them to get up and when they should be staying in bed. Based on the parent-set time, the clock will either show a sleeping animal or a wide-awake animal.
My review: We used the Kidsleep clock for a year and loved it. We convinced our son the day couldn’t start until the bunny got up (shhh!) and (with the initial help of some popsicle bribes) he knew not to ask to be removed from his crib until the sleeping bunny turned into the going-to-school bunny. Worth the money, though I think anything to get us more sleep would have been worth the money.

Teach Me Time or OK to Wake

Cost: TMT is $39.95 and OK is $29.95
What TMT is like:
Teach Me Time! is bedside alarm clock that changes colors when it’s time to get up. It can be used as a grown-up alarm clock and the clock also has an interactive game to help teach children how to tell time. The interactive, talking time-teaching game is designed to help school-aged kids learn to tell time on both analog and digital clocks. The large, bright LCD display is capable of displaying the time in either format or both at once. The shape is fun and cartoonish and kids love to press the “toe” buttons to turn it off and on.  The voice volume (thank God!) is adjustable and so is the brightness and color changing option.
User Reviews: In general, this clock was like. However, some were frustrated that the numbers weren’t backlit so you couldn’t read the time at night. One has to press the “toes” to see the numbers illuminated.  Others felt that the light itself was too dim. Parents did love the design and that it operated on batteries and that it was both digital and analog.

What OK is like: OK to Wake! glows green when it’s time to get out of bed.  It acts as a nightlight that can be turned on with a tap of the “toe”.  For older children it can be an alarm clock with snooze. It also has a nap timer.

The Good Nite Lite

$45 with shipping
What it is like: The Good Nite Lite combines a 6” traditional night light with a built-in timer that changes the visual display from moon to sun to tell kids when it’s time to wake up. This one seems the most basic of the bunch, and the price is the lowest. If I were buying another one, I would pick this one for its simplicity.
User reviews: Some parents love it and a few didn’t like the moon face, nor did their kids. The moon face scared them and they weren’t able to use it. A couple parents were frustrated that it was plug-in only.

My Tot Clock
Cost: $60 with shipping
What it is like:
My Tot Clock changes colors so the child can know when it’s time to sleep (blue light) or get out of bed (yellow light) or have a time out (red light!), and a green light encourages them when it is time to do a chore or task like brushing teeth.  (Sounds like a lot of color options to remember!) The clock can play white noise, a bedtime story and some songs. Of course, more songs and stories can be purchased separately.
User reviews: In general, parents seem really happy with this clock. Most don’t use the sleep and white noise functions. Those that did found the white noise not loud enough or wouldn’t work.

Make your own
One last idea, which I never

tried, but which could save you $50:  buy a light timer at your hardware store (the kind people use so it looks like someone is home) for a small desk lamp or night light and set it for your wake-up time. Explain that when the light is lit, it’s okay to get up.