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9/13/21 blog post

are “okay to wake" alarm clocks okay to use for sleep training?


alarm clock, good morning light, hatch






Sleep training a toddler can be a very daunting task. Just when you think you’re over the hump and can see a light at the end of the tunnel, something changes and you’re back to square one again.

One trick of the trade that has recently been growing in popularity is alarm clocks made specifically for kids, or sometimes referred to as an “okay to wake clock” or a “good morning light.”

what is an “okay to wake clock?”

An okay to wake alarm clock essentially lets your child know that is okay to get up from bed in the morning. Most of these alarm clocks also come with a soothing nightlight that will help keep your toddler in bed at night, and hopefully fall asleep faster. An okay to wake alarm clock can also be useful for those “early risers” that are awake before the rest of the family.

There are various brands available in the okay to wake alarm clock market. When looking for one that is a good fit for your child, look for something that is:

  • Easy to read (think big numbers and bright colored),
  • Has specific colors that signal when it is time for bed and when it is okay to get up (even if they do not know how to tell time yet!). Pairing the light with a simple verbal prompt (e.g., “The light is on. That means it is sleeping time!”) can help the child associate the light changing with going to bed or waking up. 

benefits of okay to wake alarm clocks

“There are a couple of great benefits to using an okay to wake alarm clock,” says Ryan Sinclair, PhD, behavioral sleep specialist at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

  1. They help in setting expectations with your child. Even if your child still wakes up at 6:00 am, you can set their alarm clock to not signal they can come out of their room until 7:00 am (of course let them know that if they’re sick or it’s an emergency they should come get you). The clock can also be a more reliable indicator of bedtime, as sunrise and sunset change during the time of year and may not always correspond with your child’s sleep schedule.  
  2. It will help teach your child to be self-sufficient and independent in the morning and at night. Once your toddler gets the hang of it they will learn to follow the rules and get in a good sleep routine. Of course, it is important to provide encouragement for your child once they finally catch onto the routine. A reward chart with stickers is a great way to make sure the good habits stick.

Once your child is used to the alarm clock, not only are both you and your child getting a better night’s rest, you are also teaching your child responsibility and helping them to follow a good sleep routine!

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Ryan Sinclair, PhD

behavioral health, psychology
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