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It all started with Daylight Savings Time. After a very solid routine of my toddler daughter sleeping from 7:30 pm to 8:00 am, she began to wake earlier and earlier with each consecutive day. 7:45 am, then 7:15 am, 6:30 am, then 6:00 am… “Mommy, up! I want up! Mommy!!!”. At first, I told myself it was a phase and she’d grow out of it. However, when the days turned into weeks, I quickly realized this was becoming the new normal. With a newborn baby keeping me up all night, I knew I needed to find a strategy to keep my toddler content in the morning and from waking up too early. While I obviously couldn’t force her to stay asleep, I was determined to find a way to stop her from forcing everyone else awake in the household as well.
Time to Brainstorm a Solution
While it may have seemed logical to keep my toddler up later at night in order to have her sleep longer in the morning, I knew this would not work. Thanks to other sleep disruptions in the past (i.e. infant sleep regressions, night terrors, etc.) I had done my fair share of sleep training research. One thing that stuck out to me time and time again was that infant and toddler sleep was often anything but logical. As a result, I knew that keeping a child up later at night actually had the reverse effect (causing them to get up earlier in the morning).
I then tossed around the idea of moving my daughter from her crib to a toddler bed. I thought that if perhaps she had the ability to get up and out of her bed on her own that she would entertain herself in her room until it was time for me to get her ready for the day. However, I clearly remember the advice of those who had children older than mine, “Keep them in their crib as long as possible!” Despite my daughter being 24 months, I was NOT ready to make that transition.
With altering bedtime and transitioning to a toddler bed both not an option, I decided to try to pacify her for as long as I could. My hope was that she would learn that just because she felt the need to wake for the day, that it was not always acceptable to get up at this time. So, when my daughter would wake I would go in with her sippy cup of water and a few books. I would quietly say “hello” and hand her these items and tell her she had to read quietly until the morning time.
Unfortunately, this technique was a total bust. While it started out strong and helped hold her off for the necessary 30-45 minutes, eventually she became bored of this routine and just wanted up and out of her crib.
The Winning Strategy
So, with a failed attempt at taking action and pacifying her with water and books, it was back to the drawing board. I think this must have been a night where my newborn baby allotted me a small stretch of sleep because my mind began to clear and I remembered a few friends talking about a clock that helped their toddlers sleep.
With lightning speed, I got online and began researching a clock that would not only help extend morning wake up times but also would be easy enough for a two-year-old to understand. After researching quite a few, I came to the OK to Wake! Alarm Clock & Night-Light and I never looked back!
How it Works
Aside from this product being brilliant (I don’t throw that word around lightly, but as a sleep deprived mama, this product was a life saver!), the key to its success was building it up in the eyes of my toddler. We made sure to surprise my daughter with this new “gift”. We then explained to her that it would sit right across from her crib on her dresser so she could see it upon waking. Lastly, we told her that it would be a fun game we would play where when the clock turned green she could call for mommy and daddy.
When bedtime came, we then simply took the clock, set it to our desired time of 7:45 am and set it on her dresser. Then we went to bed and held our breath.
By 7:00 am the following morning I heard her start to stir. She began to sing to herself and roll around with her stuffed animals, but wait!… there was NO calling for me. Never in my wildest dreams did I think she would continue this routine for 45 minutes; however, she did! Then at 7:45 am I heard on the monitor, “Mommy! My clock is green! It is green!”.
This same clock also comes with a nap timer if shortened naps are your problem zone. Additionally, this clock has a night light featured that can be programmed on or off. Another huge perk is that there is an additional product for when your child grows out of this one! I recently learned that the same company that manufactures the OK to Wake! Alarm Clock & Night-Light also has created a Teach Me Time! Talking Alarm Clock & Night-Light with adjustable skill levels to double as an alarm clock and educational device… SCORE! Lastly, I love the sense of control and independence this offers children.
Now, six months later, I am most happy to report that this amazing clock was not just a phase. While occasionally my daughter will call out for me before the clock turns green, a simple reminder to wait for the clock (via the microphone on her monitor) and she is right back to waiting for 7:45 am.
I simply can not recommend this clock enough and without a doubt will be using it once again when my youngest becomes a toddler as well!