***UPDATE: Just used this clock successfully with my 10-month-old as well. I love my life.
Not too long ago, I was fighting the almost-daily battle of a two-year-old waking up too early. I found the most glorious solution and have been singing its praises so loudly and so often, I finally decided to write up a blog post so I can send a link rather than re-typing my explanation of this marvelous invention.
It's called the "Ok to Wake Children's Alarm Clock and Nightlight." Lauren recommended it to me a long time ago and I must admit, I hesitated several months before buying it ($30 isn't a fortune, but I'm pretty cheap and was skeptical it would work). By the time I got frustrated and exhausted enough to order it, I almost paid extra for the one-day shipping. In addition to a toddler, I had a newborn and was desperate for any extra sleep.
TIP: To build trust, start with a time that is *BEFORE* their usual wake-up time, even if it's 5am (if they get up in the middle of the night--start with a time that is before when they wake up after getting up in the middle of the night). And then when they get up, point out that the light it already on, so Yay! it's time to get up. Then slowly over a week or two, move the time back 30 minutes at a time until you hit an actually reasonable wake-up time. I realize that makes for a rough week, but it will be SO WORTH it in the end.
- The clock also has a "nap timer." I like using it for both naps and bedtime since consistency is key (plus it ensures my son takes a decent nap). When my son finally drops his nap, I plan on using the clock for a set amount of "quiet time."
- Handy tip: Place the clock where your toddler can easily see it while lying in bed, but cannot reach it (we keep it on top of my son's dresser).
Give Your Toddler Time to Learn/Adjust
I must admit, it was not smooth sailing from the get-go. It took a few days to really be effective. Every night before bed, we pointed to the clock and told him, "We'll come get you as soon as the light turns on." Those first couple mornings were ROUGH. We almost gave up because we thought he couldn't understand and wasn't ready. It felt like sleep training all over again (because it was). We synchronized the clock to our own alarm clock so we could rush in as soon as we knew the light turned on. Upon walking in, we pointed to the light and said, "Yay! The light's on, you can get up!" In a matter of days, we had built that trust and he didn't cry for us anymore. He knew we would come get him when it was time. In the meantime, he happily sang to himself, read books, and then when 7:00am rolled around, he'd cheerfully call for us.
THE REAL MIRACLE came after using it for about two months. Our toddler started sleeping past 7am for the first time...ever? If he ever woke up too early, rather than completely waking himself up by yelling for us (like he used to in the pre-clock days), he'd actually go back to sleep and wake up well rested and much happier. He was more cheerful throughout the day because he was finally GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP! And so were we. My husband and I both agree it was soooooooooooo worth the $30. Hope it works for all of you as well as it's worked for us!