How to get your toddler to sleep in!

Does your toddler wake up too early in the morning? Would you like them to sleep in an extra hour, or maybe two? Well, read on… here’s how we got Jonas to sleep in until somewhere between 7:30 – 9am every day.

Mr Star
Mr Star

Back in December Jonas was waking very early, often at 5.45am. Let me tell you in the Bellingham household, any time with a 5 at the start of it is most definitely not classed as morning time! But what could we do, if our boy woke then, surely we had to get him up then, right?

Around this time one of my close friends told me about the Gro Clock. Her sister had used it with her children and apparently it worked wonders. So we thought what harm can it do? We ordered one on Amazon not really knowing what to expect.

Our parcel arrived shortly after containing a clock, a story and instructions. The idea is this: the clock can be used during night-time and daytime naps. There is a blue Mr Star that comes on during night-time hours (set to whatever time you choose), and a yellow Mr Sun that comes on when it is morning time (again whatever time you choose).

The story is a short, easy to read book full of fun pictures about animals on a farm. It basically lays out the idea that Percy Pig was grumpy because he did not get enough sleep, until his friends bought him the clock which helped him sleep.

So how does it work? You read the story every night with your child, pointing out Mr Sun in the story and on the clock, then as the story moves onto bedtime in the farm, you press a button on the clock and Mr Star appears. You again point him out to your child. You then proceed to explain that when they wake in the morning, if they see Mr Star they should go back to sleep (we also say Jonas can play with his cot toys at this time if he wants to), but that when he sees Mr Sun, he can shout ‘Mummy, Daddy’.

Mr Sun
Mr Sun

Sounds too easy right? It really was for us! Of course it took several weeks of training Jonas. Initially we set Mr Sun to appear at 6am, then moving the time back by 10 minutes every few days.

So what if he wakes up early? If Jonas was waking and calling us before Mr Sun, we would go in and lay him back down telling him it is still night-time, pointing out Mr Star and telling him that he should go back to sleep. We might do this two times, but then on the third time if it looked unlikely he was going to fall back asleep, we would go in, talking gently to him, and then when he wasn’t looking we would press the button to bring up Mr Sun. The idea being that we never wanted to show him we would get him out of his cot when it was night-time (Mr Star time), as you always want to be reinforcing the concept of looking at the clock face to tell when it is morning time!

It took us a good few weeks to train Jonas in this, but after a little while he got the concept. Rather than waking at 5.45am he now usually wakes at somewhere between 7am and 8.30am, and often plays with toys in his cot for 30 minutes.

The beauty of it is, if for some reason your baby has had a late night previously, you can change the time to set it for an hour or so later.

Generally speaking now Jonas will stay in his cot, until he sees Mr Sun and will then call us. We have also noticed he is generally much, much happier in his cot. This week I’ve gone in to him a few times at 9am and he hasn’t wanted to get up because he’s been so happy playing!!

With the toys, we don’t put them in there at bedtime as this distracts him from falling asleep (we made this mistake initially) but we creep in there before we go to bed and put a selection of toys in his cot. We tend to put different ones in regularly so he doesn’t get bored.

For us this clock has worked wonders. I would highly recommend getting it! I think if you are willing to be consistent in reading the story every night for the first few months, and always reinforcing the message you only get up when you see Mr Sun, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t also work for you!

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