As a sleep consultant, I regularly advise the parents of my older toddler clients to invest in a sleep trainer clock and a red glow nightlight, when working to improve night wakes and early morning starts.
Children this young have absolutely no concept of time, often not even grasping numbers, so a traditional alarm style clock is well above their level of understanding. For this reason, a colour based system works incredibly well! Telling them when their sleep trainer clock is “this” colour, it’s still sleep time, and when it turns “that” colour, they are allowed to get out of bed.
However, many options for a sleep trainer clock use blue as the “stay in bed” colour with stars that count down until the child is allowed to get out of bed when the clock turns yellow. While this doesn’t seem to be an issue on the surface – the colours are very different, the child will understand the concept – great! My child can count to 5, great!
Counting down may be effective for older children who have a little more understanding of time, but the majority of my clients who struggle with an early morning wakeup, the child is 2-3 years old – nowhere near old enough to grasp this concept.
The second downside to most sleep trainer clocks, is with the blue glow emitted through the night. Blue and white lights are proven to block melatonin secretion, and most night lights on the market have a white glow. Whereas red light is much less likely to inhibit melatonin secretion.
Melatonin is the hormone responsible for helping us feel sleepy, and sleep for prolonged periods. As adults, we often experience inhibited melatonin secretion when we watch TV before bed, or scroll through our phones before turning off the lights. As adults, we have the ability to feel frustrated about not being able to get to sleep, perhaps tossing and turning, without expressing it loudly. Children on the other hand, generally do not! Cue upset at bedtime and difficulties with resettling back to sleep overnight or in the early hours of the morning.
In my view, one of the brilliant features of Ooly, is the ability to absolutely personalize its function through the app, and have it glowing red at bedtime. In my mind, this lends itself a traffic light system:
Red = STOP! (sleep time)
Orange = stay quietly in bed (but OK to be awake)
Green = GO! (OK to get up and out of bed)
These 3 very simple rules can be implemented easily with a toddler or preschooler who has the cognitive understanding, and can go hand in hand with a reward chart, if this is a style of parenting you subscribe to.
My personal experience with using Ooly has been a huge success. Our 3 year old was ready to move from her cot into a ‘big bed’, she had impulse control developed and understood the colour concept. We sat together and made a reward chart before her first night in the new bed, and she told me what each colour meant before her bedroom light was switched off for the night. In the morning, she came running into our room with Ooly, excitedly telling me that it had turned green! We have not had a single morning where she has been out of bed before Ooly turned green (touch wood) going on 6 months since she transitioned from her cot to the bed.
A fabulous product!
Cara Popping – Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant and Mentor
Ooly – More sleep for the whole family.
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