To be honest, every parent expects their child to be obedient and clever from an early age, to not cry a lot or act naughty, to sleep when they should, and to get up when it's time. Nevertheless, these extremely well-behaved children are a rarity in real life, and most parents feel stressed out by their children's weird bedtime routines - it is totally understandable that they can easily fall asleep in the afternoon as the children need a long time of adequate sleep. But parents are simply annoyed by the fact that their children can wake up at freaking 5 a.m. and come to their bedrooms to wake them up.
Many first-time mommies suffered from pregnancy insomnia, and unfortunately, the birth of the child is not the end of it. A parent loses 350 hours of sleep at night over her baby's first year - and if your little one likes to wake up at ungodly hours, the number will be a lot more than that.
If your toddler has a tendency to wake you up at ungodly hours and leave you feeling drowsy and completely worn out, it is highly recommended that you use an ok-to-wake clock.
What is OK-to-Wake Clock
Some parents begin sleep training when their baby is about four months old because they know that most of the baby’s brain development happens during sleep, and they want their little ones to learn to be comfortable sleeping through the night on their own. And yet the OK-to-Wake Clock is here to solve a different problem.
Unlike regular alarm clocks, OK-to-Wake Clocks do not display the exact minutes, seconds, or hours, and they do not have hands because children cannot read the clock faces and time. They resemble little bedside lamps or have cute cartoon shapes that can light up in different colors or display different simple symbols or even emoticons. Children are more easily able to understand OK-to-Wake Clocks in this way. They can learn to perform specific tasks at the exact timing, and then after a certain period of training, they can eventually establish a healthier sleeping routine.
(Most OK-to-Wake Clocks are more like a bedside night light with an alarm clock function.)
Most OK-to-Wake Clocks come with additional features, such as built-in color-changing night lights, white noise generators, and smartphone apps that allow you to remote-control the product. For the sake of safety, some of the versions also incorporate a child lock, which prevents kids from accidentally changing settings while they’re playing with it.
When to use it
Clearly from the above description, an OK-to-Wake Clock is to give visual cues through colors, symbols, facial expressions, and other elements that are easy for children to understand (similar to the principle of traffic lights). There are probably plenty of children who get up early and resist going to bed at the age of ten months. Unfortunately, they can't use an OK-to-Wake Clock since they're still too young to comprehend the meaning of colors and they won't get any use out of it.
Although some parents have succeeded in using an OK-to-Wake Clock for their 18-month-old, many parents say they find it easier to use it when their child is two. It can definitely be used by older children as well, as long as the children have not established the concept of work and rest, the principle of OK-to-Wake Clock is surely applicable.
How to use it
Step 1: Preparation
As a way to ensure your child understands the alarm clock correctly, some pre-teaching preparation is undoubtedly necessary. For example, children must learn the difference between day and night. The sun will set at night, while the moon will rise and the stars will shine, and that is the exact time when we should go to bed. Once the stars are few and the sun is shining again, it is time for us to get up. Reiterate the whole conversation several times to make sure they have a basic understanding of day and night.
In addition, it is also very important to be able to distinguish a few simple colors. After all, most OK-to-Wake Clocks are built around this basic premise. Children at this age should already be able to tell the difference between colors such as green and red without difficulty and even recognize the emotions behind simple expressions. After all the above conditions have been met, it is time to try the OK-to-Wake Clock.
Step 2: Introduce the clock to your child
Bring the OK-to-Wake Clock to your child and assure him that it will stay by his bedside from now on. Next, explain the rules in terms your child can easily comprehend:
- Take a look at this lamp every morning before you get up.
- If the light is not on, it means you can't leave the room just yet. You can close your eyes to rest, or quietly play around in the room for a bit.
- As soon as the light turns green, it's time to get up. Come out and find mom and dad! Hurray!
- Anytime you feel like peeing or don't feel well, come out and call mom and Dad, even if the light is off.
(The green light is not on, so be a good girl and stay in your room!)
Aside from verbal introductions and spoken promises, demonstrations are also crucial. You can first set the light to green and show the child what the green light looks like. Alternatively, you can play some fun games with your kids, such as switching between colors of light and having the child answer which one means they can get up.
Step 3: Set small yet achievable goals
If your child usually wakes up at 5 a.m., you should probably set your alarm for 8 a.m. so you get an extra three hours of sleep the next day. Nevertheless, it would be impossible to ask your little fella to stay in the room for an extra three hours, wouldn't it?
It is advisable to give children a few days to adjust to the new routine and become accustomed to the clock. So, on the first day of use, we can set the alarm to the time when children usually wake up. As they wake up, children can see that the clock actually lights up, get familiar with the use of the alarm clock, strengthen the association between the alarm signal and the action of getting up, and realize that they can accomplish the task. We can also encourage and praise, through the way of positive motivation to let children fall in love with the company of the alarm clock.
You can then set a series of small goals and slowly push back the alarm clock so that your child becomes more comfortable with your desired routine. For example, we can put off 10 minutes each day. If your tot has little patience with the process, try 5 minutes each day. Sleep training actually works the fastest by making a little progress every day.
(Besides wake-up time, you can also schedule for bedtime, nap time, or even time for brushing teeth.)
Step 4: Stick to the plan and use rewards
If things aren't going so well, don't give up right away. Every child is different -- it may take them a little longer, sometimes weeks, to get used to the alarm clock and the concept behind it. The only thing we can do at this point is to adhere to the schedule to guide the children to fall asleep and get up - of course, the alarm clock needs to be set reasonably according to the children's routine, letting them slowly adapt to the order brought by the alarm clock. Persistence and patience are what matter. If not, the child will realize that the "rules" behind the alarm clock are meaningless. Remember, to have confidence, you can still win their respect for this new routine.
If the child is making progress and successfully adjusting to the alarm and starting to wake up at the desired time, we should give him/her plenty of praise and encouragement. Making a reward sticker chart is a good idea. If your little darlings got up on schedule today, reward them with a sticker, and be generous with your praise. Let him know that this can be a good habit that deserves affirmation and encouragement, and their chances of establishing a good sleep routine will be higher.
We've mentioned that if your toddler runs into "emergencies" like a missing blanket or the need to go potty, he or she can come out and find their parents even if the green light is not on. Some children may take advantage of this rule to play smart, pretending to have an emergency just to ignore the schedule so they can find mom and dad. If this happens, we can take the child to his room and tell him, "We can't go out until the alarm clock turns green." When he is not paying attention, switch the green light on manually via the app - and make sure he won’t find out that you have such power. By manually turning on the green light, children can realize that the rules are still there and can't be broken by being clever or making excuses.
Why it works
Perhaps many parents will question: is such a simple thing really useful? It may not work perfectly for every child, but researchers believe it can aid in sleep training.
Most children probably don't learn to tell time until they're eight. Before that, they had no idea about routines. They were always asking, "Are we almost there?" "Can you play with me now?" "Why are you still sleeping when the sun is already out (even though it's 5 a.m.)?". This is because they don't have a lot of awareness regarding the passage of time and what to do at specific times.
OK-to-Wake Clocks answer their questions about time in a way they can understand -- they just need to look at the color of the alarm clock to know whether it's time to stay in the room or get out of bed to find their parents.
Children who have just come to this world do not know much about the things around them – that’s why they love and thrive with simple rules. They are guided by clarity that helps them understand what is going on around them, which builds their confidence. Particularly when these rules and frameworks become routine patterns of behaviour, the power of habit can give them a sense of security and let them know that they can control and even make use of those things around them. These alarm clocks do work -- they help kids become more aware of and in charge of their own and their parents' schedules, so with active parental support, they can turn that understanding into a powerful habit.
Some children with a strong capacity for empathy will regard the clock as their friend – yes, as if it is alive. It’s a friend who can change colors, emit sound and light, and always stay by their side. So, when their "friend" gives the signal to go to bed or get up, they will act accordingly because they want to keep their "friend" happy. Of course, there is also a degree of imitation and conformity that influences the way they behave: This is the time when your "friend" and your parents fall asleep or wake up, and you need to conform to this pattern. Wouldn't that be better than your simply saying, "It's time for bed now because I said so"?
The bonoch Smart Baby Nursery Light
Although sleep training is a relatively new concept and many parents are hesitant to spend tens or even hundreds of dollars on an alarm clock, there are already many different types of clocks available for children on the market. We bought severals back and tried using them. Some of them are expensive and high-end, some are limited in their functions, some are too pompous and cartoonish (the fact is, some kids just love it).
However, limited functions mean that the product cannot grow with children. Those eye-catching cartoon shapes might one day be rejected by children's rapidly developing aesthetics. Despite our efforts, we can hardly find a product that would assist children in their development with a reasonable price tag.
That’s why we made bonoch Smart Baby Nursery Light. It can be a proper night light for newborns, the white noise generator can be used to block out noises because preschoolers need long sleeps. And use it as an OK-to-Wake clock to help develop good sleep routines when children get older and switch from their cribs to their own beds. In other words, it can be a bedside companion from birth onwards. In addition, due to its simple and corner-less design, it poses no risk to children. The child lock also ensures that the setting cannot be accidentally altered when your tot is playing with it.
(A smart nursery device that will grow with your little darling.)
There is no guarantee that the ok-to-wake sleep training will work magically on every kid, but the bonoch Smart Nursery Night Light is well-loved by parents for good reasons - it's not so much for kids as it is for those of us who are trying to adjust to being a parent, to feel more comfortable with our little darlings.