This Smiling $50 Clock Trains Your Toddler to Stay In Bed

When Mella smiles and goes green, kids are clear for takeoff.

by Dave Baldwin
Originally Published: 

Short of locking the door, stringing up color-change bulbs, or buying a toddler monitor, parents have few weapons in the fight to keep young kids in bed. Toddlers tend to wake up early (not to mention bright-eyed and bushy-tailed) and assume that mom and dad are excited to do so as well. The only way to really stop kids from barging in at 5:30 a.m. is with proper sleep training. And Mella, a handsome $50 clock that uses warm colors and facial expressions to convince them to stay the hell in bed, is a worthy weapon in the battle.

READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Sleep

Similar to the French-made REMI, Mella from San Francisco-based Little Hippo is a sleep-training alarm clock with a happy disposition. The theory behind both devices is simple: Since kids don’t fully understand the concept of time until around age eight, use color and visual cues to teach them when to sleep and wake up instead. In the case of Mella, the clock glows a pre-set bedtime color and closes its little digital eyelids when it’s time to knock off for the night. It has a built-in sound machine with three settings (rain, white noise, and ocean) and a nightlight with five colors. The goal is to create an “optimal bedtime environment” for the child to sleep.

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And as they do, so does Mella. Thirty minutes before the wake-up time, however, the clock displays a playful expression and yellow glowing light. This means “play quietly” until it’s time to wake up, at which point the alarm goes off and the clock ⏤ now smiling broadly ⏤ glows green. Kids are clear for takeoff. The clock also comes with a timer that can be used for naps, time-outs, and/or the dreaded “two more minutes until we have to take a bath” countdown.

Mella has four brightness settings, four volume settings, and comes in one of four colors ⏤ arctic blue, Kickstarter green, bright purple, blush pink. It runs $50, but can be paired with the company’s other device, a $25 nightlight and room thermometer/hygrometer named Kelvin that “changes colors depending on whether the room temperature is too hot or too cold.” Together the bundle costs $70.

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