What is a toddler sleep clock?

Sometimes called a tot clock or toddler alarm, a toddler sleep clock helps young children understand time. Specifically it helps a toddler or preschooler understand when it’s time to go to bed and when it’s ok to get up.

How does a toddler sleep clock work?

Most toddler sleep clocks aid sleep teaching by giving visual cues such as changing color at specific times. The different cues let a preschooler distinguish between bedtime, nighttime and morning. For example, My Sleep Clock by My Tot Clock (pictured below) turns blue at bedtime at a time set by the parents. It will stay blue throughout the night, letting the child know they should still be in bed. Or, if they go to the potty, they should go back to bed if the clock is still blue. The clock turns yellow at a specific time to let the child know it’s ok to get up. It also has a nap setting as an added feature.It’s the clock I most often recommend to my toddler and preschooler sleep coaching clients.

My Tot Clock Toddler Sleep Clock

When is a good age to start using one?

I recommend introducing a toddler sleep clock early, when your child is still in their crib. This way they will begin to understand the distinctions between bedtime, nighttime and morning before it becomes their choice to get out of bed or not. Once your child transitions from a crib to a bed they will already have an understanding of this concept. While it won’t guarantee on its own that your child will stay in bed, it can be a helpful tool.

Why do I recommend them?

Like any product, a toddler sleep clock won’t magically solve your toddler or preschooler’s sleep issues. But it can reinforce the structure, routine and expectations that you as the parent put in place. That’s why I include it in sleep coaching plans for children ages 2-6. My bedtime picture book helps parents and young children understand how to put a sleep structure into place. I really wanted to include a toddler sleep clock in the book, but the need to keep the story simple required that I leave it out. However, it’s an excellent addition to the “sleep rules” presented in the story. Many readers of Putting Bungee to Bed add a clock to both the sleep rules and the pictures they create as part of their sleep plan.

Whether you use it in conjunction with a book or just as part of your family’s sleep plan, a toddler sleep clock is a valuable tool to end bedtime battles at your house for good.


Sasha Carr

Dr. Sasha Carr is a psychologist and child sleep expert who has helped over 1000 families get healthier sleep. Dr. Carr serves as a faculty member of the Family Sleep Institute and is the author of Putting Bungee to Bed, a bedtime picture book aimed at helping children be better sleepers. You can learn more about her services here.

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