10 August 2007

Alarm clocks work for early-waking babies, too

Lisa's hack is fascinating -- an incredible reminder that babies are capable of a lot more learning than we think:

I read a hack not too long ago about a toddler (about 3 yrs., I think) that used to wake up way too early until the parents started using a radio alarm clock to get him to sleep longer.  My son was probably about 6 mos. old at the time and I was having the same problem.  He would wake up anytime after 5 am and cry until I couldn't take it anymore and would surrender and go get him.   When I read the hack, I thought, "Well, that's brilliant if you have a child who is old enough to understand it."

A few months have gone by now, and I kept wondering if some sort of consistent alarm would do any good with my now 11 month old.  A few weeks ago, I decided to give it a try.  I used an old cell phone with an alarm feature that I set for 6 am which was around his normal wake up time.  My hope was that he would eventually learn that Mommy was coming when he heard the music (I always set it to the same alarm tone). I always wait for the alarm and then go into his room telling him good morning and really praising him for waking up when he is supposed to.  My husband and I both thought that it would take a very long time for him to make the association, but it actually only took about a week. Since then, we have moved his wake up time back one hour.  Now he may wake up and talk to himself, but he often falls back to sleep until the alarm goes off.   It has definitely made mornings much happier around here, and I'm getting about an hour more sleep than I was before.

I'm sure all babies are unique and this may not work for everyone, but I thought I'd share.

I found a kid's alarm clock at Amazon that lets you record your own voice as the alarm sound -- interesting. I wonder if that would be more or less effective than music?

Related:

Clock radio hack encourages kids to sleep later
How to keep kids in bed till wakeup time

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Are you kidding me!? I am SO going to talk with my husband & try this!! The only thing is my 2 yr old's wake up time isn't consistent. Thank you!

Sounds good. One thing to look out for: I taught my son to read his alarm clock.....then, at bed time, every minute that went by got an excited exclamation that the 3 changed to a 4. Alarm clock had to go bye-bye.

This is really fabulous! I wish I had read this when my 2 year old was going through the early wake up. Thanks!

My wife and I are going to love this if it works. I've been meaning to take strolls in the morning to stretch my legs and mind, but its not easy when the kid wakes up at 6:30 or 7 in the morning, when we he doesn't fall asleep until 10. I used to sleep longer, but the new house lets more light in first thing in the morning to his room. I think that is making it harder to keep him asleep, because he is consistently tired and falls back asleep quickly in the mornings. The extra clock is going in there tonight.

There's also a smoke detector that allows you to record your voice, specifically marketed for parents of young kids who might be afraid and confused if they hear a regular smoke alarm go off. I just googled it and it's called the "KidSmart Vocal Smoke Detector" Nifty.

I agree with the comment about being careful with the kid watching the alarm clock. What I like about the cell phone is that he can't really see it. It's almost as if he thinks music just comes from some magical place. If I were to use a clock, I think I would put it somewhere out of the way so he couldn't see it.

love the ideas - as always!

My kid had trouble falling asleep when we first switched over to a toddler bed, so we set the timer on her little pink tv to 15 or 30 minutes. She could watch the Disney channel from her bed until she fell asleep. Plus it added a bit of extra light in her room for when she was scared of the dark.
She also rises with the sun - no amount of curtains or blinds will fool her! So we set the timer to turn the tv on about the time she gets up and it can be set to automatically shut off after 30 minutes (or an hour), however much I want to sleep in.

We noticed the other day our 3 year old wakes up when our water heater switches on in the morning. He will happily sleep through our alarm clock going off even when he has sneaked into our bed during the night. The moment the pump switches on in the heating system he wakes. Hadn't occurred to us until we read this entry that we could just adjust the turn on time to get an extra half hour in bed.

Thanks

This totally works for me too. My son has been using the alarm clock for about 8 months. For me it was more that he would try to climb into bed with me at all hours of the night or wouldnt stay in his bed in the evenings. Then he picked out his own alarm clock, its a train that chuggs and whistles. With the understanding that he is to stay in his own bed until the alarm clock goes off. It has worked very well. Every now and then he comes into my bed with me but he always brings his alarm clock with him and puts it on my head board.

Well it's a good idea and we could get enough sleep and get recharge our bodies properly ... :)

This idea also works with a light on a timer. We did it when my daughter was 18 months old. Now that my son is 10 months, I'm going to get going on it already. Thanks for the reminder.

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