Sleeping Through the Night… For Five Dollars??


My first-born was one of those babies. You know… the GOOD SLEEPERS. He was big and thriving- a good eater and a good sleeper. The first night we had him home from the hospital, we had to wake him after five hours to eat. By four months old, he would sleep from 8:30 pm until about 8:00 am. (Is it starting to make more sense how it came to pass that I was pregnant with our second child by the time he was five months old? ;)) Did we have occasional sleepless nights? Of course. But, for the most part, he slept well and consistently.

I write all this not to brag, but to provide background. Because, you see, given his history, it came as an utter surprise to me when my beloved son- now a preschooler- became a (gasp!) BAD SLEEPER. It’s true.

Sometime within the past year, my darling boy lapsed into the (bad) habit of getting up at least once, often more, during the night and wandering into Mama and Daddy’s room. One of us would walk him back into his room, put him back in bed, and sit in a chair in his room until he fell back asleep. Because, if we didn’t wait until he was asleep, he’d follow us right back out. Now, just to clarify. he was never crying, he never asked for anything, he would just show up in our room. After awhile, this just became such a standard pattern in our lives that I didn’t think much about it. And, if I’m totally honest, I could always find stories of people with MUCH worse bedtime issues going on, so I kind of brushed it off as just “one of those things” or “a phase”.

But it had been months. Probably close to a year. And it was still happening. After several sleepless nights in a row- one of which had me up for six hours and sleeping for less than three (and I’m pregnant, in case you didn’t know)- my husband and I knew we had to do something. Here’s where I tell you that I’m not a “cry-it-out” kind of mama. I’m not judging- it’s just not something I feel I can do. I’m also not a “co-sleeping” kind of mama. Sick, feverish child? Okay. That’s fine. I don’t mind snuggling up for the night. But every single night? Not my thing. I prefer my kiddos in their own beds. So those options were out the window.

“We should buy him a nightstand and a clock,” I told my husband. “Then we can just tell him what time he’s allowed to come in our room. Maybe he just doesn’t know…”

I think he thought I was slightly crazy. And, after all, I was massively sleep-deprived. But, to his credit, he went right along with it. I think he was a little desperate too.

Turns out we couldn’t find an affordable nightstand that we liked, so I re-purposed a small shelf from our playroom. We picked up a five dollar alarm clock from Walmart and let him choose the color.

I set it all up while my son ate supper and then we took him in to see it. We made a huge deal over the clock and what it meant-

“When the first number is a six, then you can come into Mama and Daddy’s room.”

Before we tucked him in, we asked, “What time is it?” “7:31″ “What time can you come into Mama and Daddy’s room?” “6:00.” “What if it’s 11:15?” “Nope.” “3:30?” “No….” “How about 6:20?” “YES!”
We decided he got it. We kissed him good night and hoped for the best, while not expecting a whole lot…

That was three weeks ago and I am happy to report that our little guy has only come into our room TWICE in the middle of the night… once that first night (and he settled right back down as soon as we reminded him about the clock) and once when he had a bad dream.

Five dollar clock = Everyone sleeping right through the night?

Works for me.


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This post is linked to:

Works For Me Wednesday

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6 comments to Sleeping Through the Night… For Five Dollars??

  • Michy

    What an awesome strategy!!! Will keep that one in mind!

  • We did the same thing several years ago for similar reasons!!!

    Unfortunately, we’ve had the situation arise with our now toddler… I invested nearly $60 in a Tot Clock and haven’t looked back. It has an analog clock face, with a lighted background that has colors. Yellow for wake, blue for sleep, red for timeout and green for (“encouragement”). It’s fully customizable with bed and wake times, nap duration and timeout duration. It has been wonderful because she wasn’t quite understanding the numbers on a digital clock yet. It automatically turns on the “sleep” color at bedtime and goes off at your preset “wake” time. You have to actually press a button for naps/timeouts, but it lasts the duration you preset and then turns yellow again. The clock also has a music and white noise function and you can choose if you want it on or not. This has been a life saver during my husband’s current deployment.

    • I’ve heard of that clock, Laura, and it sounds like a very, very worthwhile investment to me! I know some people have had success getting a simply, cheap wall clock, too. Apparently, you can remove the front and use crayons or highlighters to color zones. I imagine that’s a thrifty alternative… as long as you never need to change the times! ;)

  • Becki

    With our three oldest kids we used a sippy cup of water. If they woke up they could get a drink but NOT get out of bed. Worked like a charm and we eventually phased out the cups without any problems. This was with us co-sleeping with out first (so we could get any sleep) until 14 months, and our second until 8 months. We will do the sippy with our fourth when we transition him to a toddler bed or twin bed at 14 months or so.

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