Right off the bat I’d like to say what might work for some, may not work for others and vice versa.
We started to sleep-train A at age, I think 6 months? I’m sure I am wrong on that but it was fairly close to that age. He’s been pretty awesome in the sleeping at night department, though the day time naps have always been a struggle for us. We totally would take him sleeping 12 hours at night over a long nap during the day and not being able to put him down at night at a reasonable time any day! When you can put your toddler down from 7pm and have him wake up between 7am and 8am without interrupts (from him anyway) then I would love to call that a win! It also lets us have a bit more adult time (yeah, yeah, it’s just time where there are no kids around).
So where is the problem? That annoying, pesky-as-hell Daylight Savings time that we experience. You know, the Spring Back, Fall Forward routine? Yup, some parts of the world still obverse this crazy ritual. Though, infants, toddlers and other kids don’t seem to quite understand what it means. Do you really want your kid to wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning because the sun is up? Or want them to stay up till 10 pm because the sun is still up? Of course not! With that in mind, the younger kids also cannot comprehend the passage of time like we can. You can say, oh you stay in your bed for another 15 minutes! They will probably just stare at you and blink a few times then protest. Or they will hush down for like 1 or 2 minutes before they think it is time to get up again.
Well fear not, I may have a solution for you!
The what clock? Yeah, the Gro-Clock. A great little, and not so expensive, digital clock that may keep you and your partner sane. Well hopefully, I can’t guarantee that this will work for you as well as it has been working for us.
Features of the Gro-Clock
So what does the Gro-Clock offer in terms of features?
- Glowing screen shows images of stars and sun to communicate ‘sleep’ and ‘wake-up’ time
- Stars go out one-by-one during the night to show the passing of time
- Key-lock option
- Option to set two separate wake-up times (weekday/weekend or night-time/day-time nap)
- Adjustable screen brightness (even at the lowest is seems bright still)
- Silent operation
- Optional audible alarm feature
- Mains powered (adapter included) (no batteries :()
- Suitable from age 2+ years
- Conforms to highest applicable British and European Standards (Which are exactly?)
- Educational option of showing digital clock during the ‘stars to sun’ countdown
- “Mr Star” night time graphic
- Beautifully illustrated bedtime storybook (I haven’t actually read this)
So what is the Gro-Clock?
Well from off the box is mentions “the amazing sleep trainer for young children”. It’s a clock that can help you kids know in a way how much time they have left until they are allowed to get up. It makes use of 2 screens, a sun and a star.
When it is day time, the clock displayed a pretty smiley sun as seen in the image below. The digital clock display can also be turned on or off via the settings. I like to keep the digital clock on so that I can see what time it really is.
When it is time to sleep or have a nap during the day, you select the appropriate option and the sun slowly fades out and is replaced with a large sleepy star. Around the large stat are smaller stars. These smaller stars tell, roughly, what time is left during the sleeping period.
If your kids are put to bed at 7PM and the wake-up time is set for 7AM, then each star will vanish on each hour; a count-down if you will. If their nap (quiet) period is only an hour, like it is for A, then each star will vanish every 5 minutes. This gives the child/children a better way of visualizing how long they have until they are allowed up.
Now I don’t have an image to show the animation between night/nap time to day/wake-up time, but once all the stars have vanished, the star wakes up and fades out. The sun then fades in with a big smile and you get the image seen at the top of the post.
In the case of A, the moment the sun shows up he will start yelling, “Sun up!”. over and over again. We’ve had to introduce the Gro-Clock because before this, he would assume it was time to start the day because it’s light outside his window (at like 4 or 5am). Now, with the Gro-Clock, he knows that if the Sun is not up, then he know he isn’t supposed to be up and out of bed yet.
There could be a downside though and it comes to where you place the Gro-Clock itself. For us, because both of our kids are in cribs, yes you read that right our son (currently 3 years) and our daughter (currently 8 months) are still in cribs placement is fairly straight-forward. I’ve placed it in a spot where A can see it from his bed (crib). I’ve read online where one of people’s main complaints about the Gro-Clock is that a curious toddler can easily circumvent the “lock” or just as easily unplug it from its power source. Actually, I have found it odd that it does not have batteries, not even in case the power goes out. You have to always have it attached to an AC outlet. Too bad, I think having the option to make use of some batteries could make this “sleep trainer” even more versatile. If you do have a Gro-Clock, and a curious toddler (or two), I would highly recommend putting it in a place where they cannot reach it but still be able to see it of course.
- Easy to see screen (even though a tad bright at lowest setting for me personally)
- Additional Digital Clock so you know the actual time
- Ability to set 2 separate times; great for naps!
- Menu can be a little tricky at first to understand
- No way to see what mode you are in (night time or nap time) without having to show the sun (if the big star is showing) and navigating the menus to redo
- Cannot just specify a duration of time; ie 1 hour, or 2 hours for wake-up from nap-time. You have to set the actual time so involves a small amount of math 😉
- Can be unplugged without a battery backup, ie being able to run off batteries.
There may be one more Con than Pro, but honestly we’ve come to love this thing. Perhaps we love the Gro-Clock too much? It has been working for us quite well, and we’re curious if it will work well on our daughter when she’s a bit older and we have to deal with the same sleep/nap wake ups.
I would love to see an updated Gro-Clock in the future, perhaps with battery backup (great for taking it on overnight trips?), a companion smartphone app (so you can check on the status of the clock without having to peek into the room), a better way at locking down the clock (to keep those curious toddlers from unlocking it and forcing the sun to come up!).
If your little young ones are waking up too earlier and you’re having a hard time trying to get them to understand that just because the sun is up, doesn’t mean they can get up yet, then I believe the Gro-Clock is something that might help out! We bought ours for $64.95 CDN (locally too) and even though it is a bit more on the expensive side, we both believe it has been worth the little investment for our sanity. Side effect, A loves watching it change from night time to day time and likes to remind me to put it on in case I forget (there has been a couple of times…).