Attention, Parents: These Wake-up Clocks For Kids Might Save Your Sleep

Stop sleep training the analog way and invest in one of these digital assistants.
Sleep training clocks from Sharp and Little Hippo, available at Target
Sleep training clocks from Sharp and Little Hippo, available at Target

When you’re a soon-to-be first-time parent, everyone loves to remind you that transitioning into new parenthood also means transitioning into some new sleep habits — in other words, that peaceful, uninterrupted night’s sleep your sanity depends upon may soon be a thing of the past.

What everyone doesn’t tell you is this new “phase” can often last well beyond infancy and into the toddler years. Sleep habits also tend to ebb and flow throughout childhood, with developmental milestones, illnesses, and travel turning a kid’s sleep patterns upside down — which, naturally, can have a trickle-down effect on parents.

The struggle is real, and can seem endless to an exhausted mom or dad. Thankfully, we’ve found a slew of digital devices — all of which are a click away at Target — to ease the pain and speed the process. Many parents swear by these “ok-to-wake” clocks or nightlights that change color at a certain morning hour, signaling to a child that it’s time to get out of bed (and wake any sleeping adults).

From customizable sound machines to programmable, color-changing alarm clocks, the devices ahead are designed to help kids of all ages develop and maintain sleep habits that benefit the whole family. Read on for ways to say “goodnight” to a bad night’s sleep.

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A low-fi and very affordable option available in two cheerful shapes
Capello’s low-fi wakeup clocks don’t have nearly as many bells and whistles as the other options on our list, but an abundance of happy customers agree they get the job done. And whether you opt for the bear or the cloud shape, you’ll get the same no-nonsense features: An easy-to-read digital display; a dimmable white nightlight; a green “wake up” indicator light (that stays lit by itself for up to 3 hours) so your kiddo knows when it’s okay to get up and go; and an optional sound alarm with snooze feature, in case your little one happens to sleep in. It also plugs in, but the backup AA batteries keep it operational and save your pre-programmed settings in case of a power outage or accidental unplugging.
A souped-up option with colorful nightlights and built-in white noise
The Mella alarm clock from LittleHippo is a souped-up version of the Capello clock above. It uses both softly colored lights and digital facial expressions to indicate both rest and wake up times — blue light and closed eyes means it's bedtime, while green light and a smiling face means it’s time to start the day). A nightlight with five colors to choose from and a white noise feature with three sound options (white noise, waves, and lullabies) create an even more peaceful sleep environment. Perfect for both bed and nap time, it can also do double-duty as a visual activity timer for toddlers and older kids.
An owl-shaped clock that's equipped with cool ceiling projections
Sharp’s owl clock also changes both its color and digital face displays for different actions — the owl glows red and closes its eyes for sleepy time, and turns green and opens its eyes when it’s time to wake up. It also has a lock option so you can protect your (manually) programmed settings. But perhaps the biggest selling point are the nightlight options: In addition to solid white glow and color-changing options, it also has a ceiling projection feature so your kid can drift off to dreamland with a soothing blue stars and planets pattern overhead. (I personally wouldn’t mind that for my bedroom either.)
A color-changing nightlight with a built-in clock
I rely on Yogasleep’s no-frills Dohm sound machine to fall asleep, so I’m inclined to believe the brand’s sleep training option is also a winner. (The solid 5-star rating is also a good sign.) And unlike the more alarm clock-leaning options above, the Light to Rise sleep trainer is a fantastic option for newborns and big kids alike: The 30 soothing sound options — from nature sounds to white noise (including the signature Dohm machine fan) — and softly glowing night light are ideal for putting baby to bed. You can introduce the programmable color changing light features as they grow (aside from the standard green-means-get-up-and-go light, there’s also a yellow light to signal that it’s time to play before waking up the grownups). And the clock display is great for older kids who are learning to tell time.
A wireless, app-controlled nightlight from the creators of the Snoo
In case you’re not familiar, the SNOO is a programmable smart bassinet that senses when a baby starts crying and automatically responds with soothing white noise and rocking motions meant to simulate the womb. Parents who use it tend to swear by it (I did, and I do), but it’s only for babies up to six months old — so this SNOObie sound machine is a great option once they transition to crib life and beyond. Rather than using an alarm clock, the SNOObie uses a combination of eight soothing light colors and twelve noise options to create sleep training cues, which you’ll customize via a phone app (there’s no manual programming here). It also has unique “Magic Breathing” tracks to calm and encourage mindfulness. And, unlike any of the other options on our list, it’s cord-free.
The clock-and-nightlight hybrid that I love enough to bring on vacation
Last but certainly not least is the Hatch Rest All-In-One sleep machine. This device has been a constant in my daughter’s room from the day we brought her home. She’s now almost three, and it’s still going strong. (I even pack it when we go on vacation — and it’s not particularly compact.) While you can use a touch feature for certain functions, the Hatch Rest operates predominantly via a phone app. You can create multiple sleep/wake programs for any time of day, and customize each one with a range of sounds (and sound volumes) and colors (there’s even a color wheel so you can really get creative). For a fee, you can also sign up for a Hatch Sleep membership and get access to even more sound options, bedtime stories, and mindfulness tracks. And, unlike the three-year-old first-generation model I own, this updated machine also features a digital clock display, making it even better for big kids (though I won’t be swapping mine out anytime soon).

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