Sleep: The Most Precious Commodity

I have been staring longingly at these products on and off for months, and I think it may be time to bite the bullet and choose one. I think maybe the reason I haven’t ordered one, is because I’m afraid that if this doesn’t rescue me, I won’t have many (or any) options left.

My kids are early risers. Really early. WAY too early.

My daughter (almost 4) has started sleeping better and longer since we got rid of her nap a few months ago. But there are still times she’ll wake up early and I can’t get her to go back to bed because her brother is already up – and it must be morning if hes up, right? My son (21 months) has been getting up at 4:30 every morning for over a year. I’m not sure he’s quite old enough to get the hang of this yet, but I’m willing to try anything.

The basic premise of these night light/alarm clocks is you set them for the earliest time you would allow your child to leave her bedroom or take her out of her crib. (Be reasonable, folks. While it would be nice to stay in bed in until 9:00, you can’t expect a young child to sleep past 6:00 or 6:30. Some do, and to their parents I say: I hate you!) Anyway, when your child wakes up, if the “night” setting is still on, she knows she has to go back to sleep (or at least sit in her room and stare at it until it changes). If it has switched to the “morning” setting, she can come out and bother you.

The BabyZoo Sleeptrainer ($34.99) is absolutely adorable. Momo the monkey “sleeps” all night, and opens his eyes in the morning. One thing I love about it is that it has both a digital and an analog clock, which is great for teaching time-telling to your child. It also has an optional night light and alarm clock, and comes in shades o green or a pink/blue combination.

Some cons I have read about this clock are:
The digital clock only has a 24-hour mode (meaning at 7 pm it will read 19:00, which is confusing)
It ticks loudly
The nightlight wears out the battery very quickly
Intelligent kids will just open Momo’s eyes themselves and say “Momo’s awake, it’s morning!”

The Good Night Light ($34.99) is a much simpler product. It’s a night light with a moon face that glows all night and then turns to a sun face at the time you set it for.

The Stoplight Sleep Enhancing Clock ($36) has a traffic light that glows red for “Stop – Don’t get out of bed!” and green for “Go wake up Mommy and Daddy!” The green light stays on for an hour (which means that if for some reason your child sleeps more than an hour longer than you expected, she might wake up confused.) It has only a digital clock.
It comes in four styles: teddy bears in pink or blue pajamas, or a boy or girl driving a car. Even though the car versions are adorable, I’d probably get the teddy bear in blue because it’s the most unisex and therefore I could use it for children of both genders without hearing an argument about it.

The OK to Wake! alarm clock/night light ($29.95) glows yellow all night and green when it’s time to wake up. It also has a second timer you can set for nap time! The clock itself is white with interchangeable bug (green) and flower (pink) bezels. The clock’s digital-only face is not backlit, though, so if your child wakes up in the middle of the night she won’t be able to see what time it is without pressing a button. Also, some consumers complained that the difference between the yellow and green lights is negligible and it may be hard for kids to tell the difference. Some people who bought this product wished they’d bought its cousin:

The Teach Me Time Talking Alarm Clock and Night Light ($39.95). This seems to be the only one that can be plugged in so as not to waste batteries. (It also has a battery option.) The clock is white with interchangeable blue, pink and yellow bezels. It has both an analog and digital clock, and can glow yellow all night and green in the morning or just green at wake-up time, if the light bothers your child at night. You can also set the time for the green light to turn off, as opposed to some of the other clocks where it turns off automatically after an hour or two. Kids can also press a button and the clock will tell them the time aloud! It also has an interactive game to help kids learn to tell time. Parents complain that it this clock is complicated to program.

Finally, there is the My Tot Clock ($59.95 on Amazon, $49.95 through the manufacturer). This clock glows blue at night and turns yellow when it’s time to wake up. It also has added features that would never have occurred to me in a million years – and they’re brilliant! There is a red “discipline” clock that you can set for time-outs and a green “encouragement” clock for positive activities – how long you want them to sit on the potty, how long they can play before it’s time to get ready for bed, etc. You can buy decorative faceplates for it ($9.95 each – why bother?) or additional cartridges (also $9.95 each) that will read a variety of classic stories to your child, although it seems that the lullabies, wake-up music, and white noise are the same on every cartridge. That’s right, it will play a lullaby (your choice of five classics) for 30 minutes, and white noise (ocean waves) all night if you want it to. And your kids can wake up to “If you’re happy and you know it” – but who would want to wake up their kids at all? I say let ’em sleep! You can set different volumes for each feature, and it even has an override button so you don’t have to totally reset the clocks when “life happens.” Despite all these settings, parents say it is easy to program.
On the con side, this clock only has an analog face, and the sound quality is said to be poor. And of course there’s the price tag.

After all this research, my only question is, do I get the Good Night Light or monkey clock because my not-yet 2-year-old will understand them, or one of the other clocks that might be more useful in the long run?

11 thoughts on “Sleep: The Most Precious Commodity

  • June 30, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    First, I think that was a great post 🙂

    I can't see a kid much under 3 grasping the fact that it isn't time to wake up mommy and daddy, but I could be wrong.

    Whatever you choose to get, it would be interesting to know whether it works or not.

    Good luck!

    Rachel (temporarily done with sleep-training, until we move Yirmi into a "big boy bed")

  • June 30, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I have used this method with 2 kids so far using a nightlight on a timer. Eventually they get smart and learn to just turn off the nightlight (it goes off when it's morning, but it can work the opposite way if your kid doesn't use a nightlight) but it works well.

  • June 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Where were these when my daughter was just at that learning stage. I think the ideas are great, how they work from one child to the next is the key. But I would say worth the try.

  • June 30, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Rachel – Thanks! This is only my third post, and I did a TON of research. I'm glad you appreciate the work that went into it.

    How old is Yirmi?

    Lorien – I think that's a great (and cheap!) alternative. But I do think that if I went in to Ami's room every morning and said "Momo's still sleeping, go back to sleep," and then the next time I went in and got him I showed him that Momo's eyes are open, he would catch on. With a night light I think it's doubtful.

    – Netanya

  • July 1, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Netanya it's so funny that you wrote about this — seriously the night before this went up I was doing some Amazon browsing and bookmarked like 3 of these products to write about in a future post. Thanks for doing it for me!

    looking forward to your next post!

  • July 5, 2010 at 6:15 am

    Netanya – Yirmi is 2 and 4 months. We've waited with the others until about 2 and 9 months – they didn't ask to move into a big kid bed and it's so much easier to control them (and by the time they're in big kid beds they're less dangerous).

  • July 5, 2010 at 6:45 am

    My best friend (mom of 5) told me not to move them to a big kid bed "till they're 3 or you trust them." Eliana was still perfectly content in her crib at 2 and 8 months but then we went to America for Pesach. I told my in-laws to have a crib for her but they decided she was too old for it. So in an unfamiliar environment and while jet-lagged I had to lay with her for hours every night (and nap time) trying to get her to sleep in a big-kid bed. NOT fun!

    We are moving to a house G-d willing next month. I do not want Ami wandering around at night. He is staying in his crib as long as possible.

  • September 24, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Update: When we had moved into the new house and Ami was about 2, I put a lamp on a timer set for a few minutes later than he was usually waking up.
    The first morning when he woke up, I went in and said it's still night time, it's not time to get up yet. When the light turns on Ami can get up. I went back to my room and let him cry but I made sure I was back at the exact second the light turned on so I could make a big deal about what a big boy he was for staying in his bed until the light turned on and now that the light is on it's time to get up.
    The next day when he woke up, I told him it's not time to get up until the light turns on and went back to my room and let him cry. When the light turned on, he stopped crying and shouted "Light turn on! Ami get up!"
    The third day he waited for the light to turn on.
    After a few more days I gradually moved the time to be later/more reasonable.
    At some point he realized it wasn't worth getting up that early since I wasn't going to get him until the light went on, and if he woke up and saw that the light was off, he went back to sleep!

  • September 24, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Sounds like a success! I'm thinking about doing the same with my kids during vacation — setting the timer to turn the light on at 10am. Think it'll work? 🙂

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