Sleep training can be the difference between a 4 am wake-up call and a full night’s rest … do we have your attention yet? We thought so. Maybe you’re struggling to transition your tot from a crib to a big kid bed, or perhaps most mornings start with a bouncy child bursting into your bedroom and asking you if it’s time to get up. Mama, we have a solution for you, and it’s kind of genius. As opposed to a regular alarm clock, a sleep trainer clock, aka, an OK-to-wake clock, is a toddler-friendly way to let littles know if it’s okay to get out of bed — all without needing to actually tell time.
These clever gadgets give your kiddo the cue when it’s time to sleep or time to rise, and the best toddler alarm clocks do double-duty as nightlights and sound soothers, too. Some even have extras like built-in monitors and Bluetooth speakers so your tot can listen to their own tunes. Whether you’re looking for a no-frills, just-do-the-job sleep trainer clock, or a fully-loaded techie lover’s dream (that you’ll want in your own room, too), we’ve rounded up our favorite okay-to-wake alarm clocks of 2020 to help everyone catch more zzz’s.
Best Sleep Training Clocks + Customizable Lights
This digital bedside buddy will become your kid’s (and your) best friend by getting your little ones into a sleep routine with the use of facial expressions and lights. When it’s bedtime, the clock’s face will go to “sleep”; when it’s time to wake, it lets your child know with a smile (basically, it’s like the Tamagotchi of sleep training). Further, the light changes yellow half an hour before the alarm goes off — indicating it’s almost time to become a human Pop-Tart — then turns green when it’s okay to seize the day. The Mella is also a nightlight, sound machine, and has a timer, which is perfect for time-outs or naps. And, you’ll love how its streamlined design and colorful feet (in teal, purple, pink, and light blue) look sleek, not tacky.
“I was hesitant to spend $50 on a clock but my two-year-old now sleeps until 7:00 as opposed to 5:30,” says a reviewer. “Worth every penny. He’s actually easier to put to bed now too if we tell him Mella is going to be asleep soon.”
For fun features galore, the LIELONGREN OK To Wake Alarm Clock has it all. Sleep training-wise, it has sunset and sunrise simulation features in which it gradually dims and brightens over a 5-minute period, helping ease kids to sleep or awake. (For little ones who rise before the sun, a musical or buzzing alarm can be set to indicate when it’s okay to leave their room, too.) It also includes a touch sensor nightlight function, which can be turned on and brightened by tapping the top, ideal for kids afraid of the dark or breastfeeding moms. Complete with a timer function and color-changing option that illuminates in five hues, the final detail you’ll love is that it’s rechargeable via your phone charger — in fact, you can buy it with or without an adaptor.
“It has so many great features!” says a buyer. “We love that it works as a nightlight and you can choose between several colors, white, or color-changing. It’s rechargeable so you don’t need to buy batteries, but also don’t need it plugged in so your little one can take it with them [for] those midnight potty runs.”
The celestial theme of this clock will surely help your sweetheart drift off to dreamland. A glowing moon and stars on the face of the clock mean it’s lights out, and in the morning, it’s replaced by a sun icon when it’s time for rise and shine. You can set two alarms (like one for school days, one for lazy Saturday and Sunday mornings), and they’ll wake your kiddo up with light, sound, or both. And if your youngster is scared of the dark, they can turn the nightlight on with just a touch; plus, they’ll love picking from 10 vibrantly colored lights. Doubling as a soother with 17 different sounds, this unit is powered with a USB cord.
One customer says this sleep trainer is a must-buy. “I bought this for my son when he moved into his ‘big boy’ bed. It is easy to use. There is a lock feature so he can’t change the time or alarm. He loves playing with the night light when he gets ready for bed. The sun and moon are so easy for him to understand when it is time to get up for the day.”
Best Simple-But-Effective OK-To-Wake Clocks
With the use of stoplight-inspired lights, this Amazon bestseller is simple but effective. It turns red when it’s time for sleep, yellow when it’s almost time to rise, and green when it’s A-okay for hopping out of bed and it also has an alarm mode with lights and a song if you have a deep sleeper (lucky you!). If your youngster needs some extra help slipping into slumber, the clock’s light-up mode offers a soft glow for 20 minutes and it can play white noise, rain sounds, or a lullaby. The Skip Hop Sleep Training Clock is also battery-operated, so can be placed anywhere in your child’s room. And, it’s possibly the most travel-friendly option on this list … vacation sleep, here you come!
“Ever since we switched my son to his toddler bed, he would run to our bedroom immediately after opening his eyes,” explains one dad. “We got this cloud and informed him that he mustn’t leave his room until it turns green and plays a song. After the first initial tantrum, he got so excited when it turned green that it only took a day for him to get the concept. Mom and Dad can get an additional half hour of sleep and everyone is happy.”
Any puppy dog-loving kid will want this nightstand pal. Big Red Rooster’s doggy toddler alarm clock is simple: The ball glows red when it’s time to sleep, then green when it’s okay to get up. It features two alarm settings, ideal for weekday and weekend sleep schedules, along with a separate nap timer. Parents will appreciate that the settings are located in a “hidden” back panel that’s not easily accessible to little hands. And older kids, especially, will appreciate the backlit, easy-to-read digital clock, plus the countdown that lets them know when nap time is officially over. Powered by AC adaptor or batteries, this unit is easy to use anywhere.
“This product has had a huge impact on our family!” raves one reviewer. “We never sleep-trained our daughter. It was ridiculous but I’m writing it off as a rookie mistake. Anyways, at 27 months we decided that we finally had to get her to fall asleep in her own bed by herself and stay in bed all night. Not an easy task. Enter this alarm clock. It was one of the best purchases we have ever made as parents.”
Ideal for kids too young to tell time, the Groclock uses pictures to help little ones get on a sleep schedule. It illuminates blue light with stars at bedtime, then the stars disappear, one by one, as the night goes on so they can gauge how much time has passed. When it’s time to get up, it displays yellow light with a smiling sun. This clock is ideal if you’re looking for an easy-to-use sleep trainer, but it does have some extra features: The light is dimmable and can double as a nightlight, and there’s an optional audible alarm. It can be set with two different wake times, and as a bonus, it comes with a board book to add to your bedtime routine.
“I have an autistic child, and we use picture stories for setting schedules, teaching, etc.,” explains one Groclock user. “This clock has a teaching mode that goes through the night-morning cycle in 5-10 seconds, so we can reinforce the meaning of the blue star icons leading to yellow sun icon in the morning. It also includes a storybook with the little star and sun icons in the corner of the pages, signifying night and day activities (another reinforcement tool).”
Best Alarm Clocks For Toddlerhood & Beyond
With its modern round design and smooth lighting, this clock may look similar to others on this list. And while it does share several key features — a digital clock face, tap control, a rainbow of colored light options, and a rechargeable battery (it plugs into a USB) — it has one major difference: A Bluetooth speaker! That means (in addition to built-in tunes) you can set your kiddo’s wake cue to their favorite song, play lullabies at bedtime, or cue up a Spotify station while they’re playing in their room. This handy device will be a bedroom essential even as your kid gets older, and possibly into their teen years, when their music choices become, um, questionable. This thing is so cool, you may want to grab one for your bedroom, too.
“I wanted an alarm for my kids and this was perfect,” a reviewer explains. “It’s a nightlight and an alarm, also [has] Bluetooth so you can play music. My kids love it. They know once the light turns on it time for bed.”
Ah, the good ol’ Hatch. It makes frequent appearances at baby showers and turns out, it’s the perfect sleep trainer, too. From babyhood to toddlerhood and beyond, the Hatch Rest+, an update from the original Hatch, is a multipurpose tech wonder. You can create light and sound programs from an app on your phone, setting the tone for designated bedtime and wake times — your tot can also turn on the night light themselves with a double-tap. The plus includes a two-way monitor that you can access from your phone’s speaker, which can be extra comforting for newly-independent sleepers, as well as a digital clock display.
Says one parent of a 2-year-old, “We’re currently training him to sleep on his own, and it really helps to have the Hatch+. The best feature is that it can be controlled via phone when paired with Alexa. Also, how cool is it that I can talk to my kid even when I’m in another room?! 10/10 recommend, especially for parents who are trying to train their kids to start sleeping on their own.”
Looking for more been-there-done-that advice? Our mom-approved baby gear picks will help make your life just a little bit easier.