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My Top Tips for Using a Toddler Clock

Is your toddler waking up too early? Or not staying in their bed in the night? Chances are you've been thinking of getting them a toddler clock, also known as an okay to wake clock. Keep reading to find the best way to implement them so it works!



Toddler clocks are clocks that change colour on a schedule to allow your toddler to know when it's time to go to bed and time to wake up. Two of the most common brands in Canada are the Hatch and Gro Clock.


What I love about the Hatch particularly is that you can change it right from your phone. Let me tell you why this is so helpful.


The point of the toddler clock is to teach your child when they need to stay in bed and when it is okay to get out of bed. Usually it is set to be red for sleep time and will turn green when it is okay to get out of bed in the morning. If your child wakes up before the time it is set to turn green they are supposed to stay in bed and wait for the light to change.


Here's the problem, if you have it set to turn green at 7am but your child wakes up at 6am and is having a hard time staying in their room. The solution: You can change the clock to green manually from your phone, therefore letting your child think they stayed in their room until the clock changed (reinforcing the positive behaviour).


My top tips for using a toddler clock for early wakings:

  1. Don't set the clock to your ideal wake up time immediately. You want to give your toddler a chance at sleeping until the clock changes colour. On the first day, set it to the time they usually wake up. Then set it later in 10 minute increments when they are finding it easier to stay in their room until the clock changes.

  2. Stick to your boundaries. When you let your toddler get up early, or come into your bed before their clock has changed your letting them know that the colour on the clock doesn't really matter. Remain firm with your boundaries around staying in their room until the clock changes if you really want it to work.

  3. Make sure you aren't asking your child to sleep too much! Some kids are waking early because they've napped too much in the day and just don't need more sleep by 5am. Ensure the daytime schedule is appropriate before purchasing a clock to solve your problems.

How to use the clock at bedtime:

  1. The clock serves as a visual cue that it's bedtime.

  2. I prefer to set mine for the time to get ready for bed. " oh look, your clock is red, it's time to get ready for bed!"

  3. You may also choose to add in a visual timer to get the bedtime routine on track.

  4. As long as the clock is red, you have to stay in bed. * red is the best colour for b bedtime because it is the least disruptive to melatonin production and will lead to less sleep disruptions.

Both of my kids use hatch clocks in their room for white noise. Most children are capable of understanding the light system by 2.5-3 years of age. I currently use it for my 4 year old and will introduce it eventually to my 2 year old.


Follow me on instagram @thatsleepmama for more sleep tips for babies and toddlers!



You can find the Hatch on my amazon storefront. This post is not sponsored by Hatch, but I do make a commission from amazon if you purchase using my link.






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