If you, like me, have a toddler (or preschooler) that likes to wake you up at ungodly hours of the morning, I implore you to get an OK to wake clock. Ours literally changed my life and constitutes my absolute favorite parenting purchase since infancy. I love it so much, I wish I could send one to all of you for the holidays.
Last summer, my toddler liked to come down multiple times throughout the wee hours of the morning to “go to the potty” (chat on the toilet), ask when it was time to get up (chat in my room), tell me it was taking a long time for it to be time to get up (chat on the stairs trudging back up to his room), and ultimately insist that it was, in fact, time to wake up now — “because it’s light outside, mama.”
Yes, son — we live in Maine, where the sun rises at 5am, and light starts beaming in through the windows at approximately 4:20am in the summer. Isn’t that great?
But it is not time to wake up.
Now, with an OK to wake clock, my son stays upstairs in his room until 7am!! I’m SERIOUS, guys. #Imbringingmorningsback.
If you want to reclaim your mornings too, take the plunge. Our OK to wake clock was the best thirty bucks I’ve ever spent.
Although the prospect of needing an alarm clock for your child may seem laughable right now, as kids start to get into elementary school, many parents find they do need one. And since many of these OK to wake clocks also have an alarm clock feature, they’re the kind of thing that might serve you even longer than you think. Just an added bonus.
All of the following clocks have a devoted fan base. Seriously, parents are calling them “magic,” “game-changing,” “lifesavers,” and “the best parenting purchase EVER.” (My personal favorite accolade: “In my wildest dreams I never thought I could love a clock so much.”)
I so agree.
Best OK-to-Wake Clocks: Summary
Mirari OK to Wake! Alarm Clock and Night Light ~$27 — *Budget/Economy Pick
This little “snail” has been a godsend in my home. It may look a little silly, but it does the trick, and I would buy it ten times over.
The snail has a (yellowish) night light that kids can toggle on and off with the big button on one of the “toes,” and the whole apparatus glows green — green means go! — when it’s OK to wake up.
The nightlight is a nice, soft light ⎯ and the turning-to-green is very distinct, so there’s no mistaking it. I love that the light doesn’t wake my son up (on the one-in-247 mornings when he’s still sleeping), but it does have an actual alarm should you want that (and a snooze feature, should you care to start your kiddo out with bad habits nice and early — kidding!).
BTW, you can adjust the settings such that the green light will stay on for between 15 minutes and 2 hours.
The control panel on the back is a little confusing at first, but set-up takes just a minute. You simply designate when it’s “OK to wake,” opt to use the light and/or the alarm, and you’re set. The Mirari OK to Wake! Light also has a naptime feature (which doesn’t interfere with the morning settings) that operates on the same principles: the snail turns green when naptime is over.
This light has a USB charger (you’ll need a wall adapter, though), and also takes batteries (4 AA) as a backup. (I would have laughed at this, but after losing power to a windstorm for a weekend back in October, it’s no joke.) Many parents complain that that it chews through batteries, so we recommend using it with the USB power source.
The control panel in the back is covered, but any two-year-old could open it and putz around with the buttons, so that may be an issue if you have a particularly handsy toddler (or you could simply place it out of reach). My solution: “honey, the snail doesn’t like to be touched — if you touch him, he’s not going to turn green.”
Some parents find the overall quality of the Mirari light to be lacking, and we agree that it’s clearly not the highest quality product, but many, many a parent has used it for months/years with no complaints. For twenty-seven bucks, this is a top wallet-friendly option for an OK to wake clock. (It’s also nice for travel!)
Runner Up in the Budget Category: Big Red Rooster Sleep Training Clock ~$25
With many of the same features as the Mirari, the Big Red Rooster OK to wake clock may appeal to kids who’d prefer the dog visual — the ball turns red when it’s time to sleep and green when it’s time to wake up. This one comes with an AC power adapter (it can also function on batteries), and you can set it for two separate times — very nice if you have schedule variations on certain days of the week, or for the weekends. It also has a nap timer and an optional alarm.
It’s About Time Stoplight Sleep Alarm ~$45 — Best Character Clock
These character OK to wake clocks (there are a handful of versions) embrace the logic of the stop light to help kids understand when it’s time to sleep, when it’s time to be quiet, and when it’s time to get out of bed.
The base displays a digital clock on the bottom; the stop light glows red during sleep time and turns green when it’s time to rise and shine. (The yellow light is an optional night light.)
This one doesn’t have a nap timer, which is a darn shame, or any other bells and whistles for that matter (although it does offer an alarm clock). Nonetheless, most parents are really after something that can keep kids in bed until at least “X” time in the morning, and this pony can do the trick.
There are a number of variations of this clock, and many parents explain that the Sesame Street characters combined with the stop light were really enticing to their kids. If your kiddo loves Elmo or the Cookie Monster or Big Bird, maybe he’ll get amped about one of these.
Tommee Tippee GroClock ~$45 — Best for Building the Concept of Time
This cute OK to wake clock from Tommee Tippee features the sun and stars (quite literally day ‘n night) as well as a digital clock display. Rather than the green/red system, GroClock uses the daytime/nighttime displays to indicate when it’s time to rest and when it’s time to get out of bed. When the sun comes out: rise and shine! Stars in the sky: time to sleep.
Overnight, the stars around this clock gradually “go out,” giving children some indication of how much time has passed. This is a great feature, since kids who do wake up in the middle of the night don’t really have any way of knowing “how close” they are to wake-up time.
About two hours after the sun rises, the screen will go blank on the clock, just FYI. (It goes into power-saving mode, but you can turn it back on whenever you want — see below.)
The GroClock plugs into the wall (no batteries to deal with — nice), and has an optional audible alarm if you want to set that (it’s a beep sound).
The GroClock has some user-friendly features — you can adjust the brightness settings and set a nap timer, for example — but it’s somewhat frustrating to program and get set up. Some parents also complain that you have to actually set it manually every evening to begin “bedtime mode.” (It’s not difficult, but you do have to remember to set it — best thing to do is to try to incorporate it into the bedtime routine. Kids love pushing the button, so this could even be something your child gets to do.)
This clock is the winner in terms of helping teach and demonstrate the passing of time to young children. (It even comes with a little board book to help kids learn about time and the GroClock.) If you want your OK to wake clock to also foster your child’s conceptual understanding of time, this is a good pick.
LittleHippo MELLA Ready to Rise ~$49 — Editor’s Choice
The LittleHippo MELLA clock is a parent-favorite — it’s got a more sleek and sophisticated look (LCD screen, ooh-la-la!), is high quality in terms of the design and make, and has some smart, intuitive features.
MELLA turns green and flashes a broad smile when it’s time to wake up; and she turns red (or whatever color you select for the night light feature) and closes her eyes during rest time. But we love that she also turns yellow (and smirks!) for thirty minutes prior to wake-up time — a nice way for tots to anticipate getting out of bed (though you cannot adjust the “yellow” time — a frequent complaint among parents, who seem to either love or hate this almost-time-to-wake-up indicator.)
MELLA kills a few birds with one stone: it’s a night light with five subtle color options, a noise machine (with white noise, ocean sounds, and a lullaby setting), plus your time-to-rise clock. For the latter, it also comes with the option to use an alarm clock as well as operate a nap timer (which can be set for anywhere between 15 minutes and 3 hours).
The control panel is on the base of the MELLA clock, and it has a “childlock” switch, which is a nice feature. It’s not as easy as the smart integration with the Hatch Baby Rest, but it’s more intuitive than the Mirari. It’s quite simple to set up and to make adjustments. Please note that if you unplug the MELLA, you will have to enter your settings again.
Some parents say that the light settings on the MELLA are too bright and sometimes even wake their kids up, just FYI. And there’s no way to adjust the brightness.
MELLA comes with a 1-year warranty, and LittleHippo has excellent customer service.
This is a high-quality time-to-rise clock, and we think it’s best for families who want a clock that can double as a night light or a sound machine. It’s also unique for having the thirty-minute “yellow” glow to tell kids that the time is nigh. Again, some parents really appreciate this feature while others find it annoying — we trust that you know best whether your child would enjoy it. 😉
Hatch Baby Rest/Rest+ ~$59/$89 — Upgrade Pick
The Rest is the Cadillac of the time-to-rise clocks. You won’t be sorry.
*At the end of the day, parents, ANY of these just might do the trick — don’t obsess over it. Parents who rave about them are not gushing over the intricacies of the products themselves, but rather the simple fact that they help many of us reclaim (some) lost sleep and take back our mornings.
Decide which features you want (night light? nap timer? sound machine? smart integration?) and from there, pick whichever fits your budget and you think will most excite your child.