Annette Faamausili, August 21 2017

Sleep Trainer Clocks - Are they really worth their weight in gold?

 Early rising has to be one of the hardest and most challenging aspects of parenthood, it can literally put a dampener on the entire day. Days feel incredibly long, sleep envy kicks in and no doubt your over tired toddler will dish out an unrelenting amount of whinging and whining, not to mention the odd tantrum thrown in for good measure. Welcome to the world of the early riser!

We all know that gone are the days of our children ever sleeping beyond 7am but 5am just isn't acceptable on any level.

Bring in the sleep trainer clock.......

These clever little gadgets have been around for a number of years with newer models being introduced to the market all the time. The idea behind a sleep trainer clock is to gradually teach your child to stay in bed for longer and wait for the clock to signal when it is time to get up. To maximise your chances of success, it's really important to consider a few factors first before introducing one to your child.

Is your child ready?

Most children are ready to use a sleep trainer clock successfully from 2 years of age, however this will depend very much on your child's language and comprehension skills. Can he follow and understand simple instructions, 'find me your shoes', turn the light off', 'we will go to the park after dinner'? If so your child is most likely ready.

Choosing a clock.

There are many different brands to choose from each with similar functions. The Claessons award winning clock is a popular choice as it comes with an array of different functions to tie in with your child's needs.

Practice first

Before you introduce one to your child, have a play with it first to familiarise yourself with its different functions.

Trial it out at night to ensure the screen isn't too bright so adjustments can be made, it's best to have it set to the lowest level to avoid it distracting your child. Make sure you explain fully to your child what is expected of them, it might be worth having a little practice with it in a darkened room so your child gets used to the moon and sun setting first.

Choose the right place

Place the clock either by your child’s bed or high up on a shelf if they are likely to be distracted by it. Always use the clock in ‘key-lock’ mode to prevent your child from tampering with it or adjusting the time. (Your worst nightmare!!)

Is under tiredness a likely cause?

There is no point using a sleep trainer clock if your child is waking up early caused by having too much day sleep or being under tired at night. Most children between 2-2 1/2 years need an average of 60-90 mins of sleep per day with this cutting down to 45 mins between 2 1/2 - 3 years. If your child is napping more than this it's worth cutting it back first to see if changes occur to their wake up time.

Take it slow

The key to succesfully shifting your child's wake up time is to do it gradually, rushing the process will not give your child's body clock the chance to shift and adjust.

For the first 5-7 days it is really important that you set the clock to come on close to your child’s usual wake up time. For example if your child usually wakes around 5am but you would like him to sleep till 6:30am, first set the clock to come on around 5:10am. When your child wakes at their usual time of 5am, pop in briefly and tell him he can’t come out of his room until the sun appears on the clock, that way he will only have to wait 10 minutes. As soon as the sun appears on the clock, tell him he is allowed to get up and start the day. 

After 5-7 days, and sometimes longer, your child will have learnt that he isn’t allowed to get out of bed until the sun appears on the clock. Once you are confident he has understood and grasped the concept, you can start to adjust the time. For best results move the time forward by 10 minutes every 5-7 days until you get to the desired time. Your child will not notice these gradual adjustments but their body clock will start to shift.

The sleep trainer clock can be used effectively for day time naps too and is particularly useful if you just want your child to have quiet time in their room.

You can also use the clock during daylight savings and when travelling on holiday, this will ensure your child gets sufficient sleep and doesn’t get over tired.

Reward your child

Introduce a reward chart to help motivate your child and make the experience a positive one. Children love getting stickers and small incentives and this will only further help and encourage your child's compliance. 

By following these simple tips and rules, you will significantly improve your chances of success and optimise your child's sleeping potential. 

Written by

Annette Faamausili

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