The Gro clock is a digital clock, sleep trainer and optional, adjustable night light all-in-one device. Plug it in, set it up and it can help younger who cannot read a clock tell the time and when it is time to get out of bed. I have a daughter with health issues and sleep hygiene is vital to her, but she finds it a real struggle when waking up at night to know when it is night, when it is morning and when it is time to get out of bed.
The Gro-clock counts down the time with a number of stars, which helps younger children to estimate the time (lots of starts, its early in the sleep cycle, only one star left is almost morning). It also has the option to display a digital clock in sleep and awake mode so that older children can also read the actual time.
The main features that sold me on it was that I could turn off the backlighting (we prefer sleeping in dark rooms and even on the lowest setting, the clock still faintly illuminates the room), with a utilitarian design it isn’t too interesting at bed time and the visual interface provided just enough information without being overwhelming or overly complex.
Price: £ 16.99
Included in the box: Gro-Clock Sleep Trainer, Sleepy Farm story book, DC-powered adapter, instruction manual
Paid Extras: None
About The Gro Group
The founders of the Gro Group, Rob and Ouvrielle Holmes, sold the business to the company’s management team led, by Christian Jones in 2013. The Gro Group continues to grow and is a global business specializing in baby sleep products with headquarters based in Exeter, UK. They achieved fame for their Grobag 15 years ago and went on to produce many more safe solutions to help babies (and their parents) sleep better.
The company have fostered a close relationship with The Lullaby Trust, a UK-based charity dedicated to promote safer sleep for infants.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
The Gro Clock is a manufactured for toddlers and that is reflected in its style and design. It has adjustable brightness from 0 – 10, which includes turning off the back lighting. It comes with a long cable (make sure to secure it safely for young children) that adds extra versatility in positioning and we wired it into a bookcase where it provides a safe, wire-free display.
The most useful age range is 18 months – 6 years when toddlers are old enough to grasp the basic understanding of sun = day, moon = night and/or orange light = day, blue light = night. As children get older, the clock’s functionality expands – the number of stars makes it easy for preschoolers unable to read a clock to approximate the time and once children can read and understand a digital display, they can read the actual time on the clock as well.
The interface is the Gro clock’s weakest point. It is neither tamper proof nor does it encourage independence with an overly complicated 3-button input system that is rarely a single button press.
I was hoping for a device that would make bedtime something my little one could control for herself, but the interface was so complicated that I had trouble using it at the start and my husband, the resident tech expert, still refuses to touch it. For example, to active the clock users have to press the round button once, then the down button then the round button once again.
The buttons are tiny and in close proximity, making it difficult to use for anyone with dexterity problems as well as young children and the clock rests on a narrow base that is easily knocked over unless on a very solid, flat surface.
The result is an interface that is inappropriate for parents looking for a clock they can control. Although there is a key lock function, the unlock button the only single button press input – hold the down key and it unlocks the buttons, which isn’t difficult for even young children to pick up from parents. Children can also easily pull out the power cord at the base of the unit which switches it off (it is mains not battery powered). The interface is also inappropriate for parents interested in teaching independence as the clock is complicated to use and the buttons are small.
Once active, problems fade away though and now that I have it set-up, pressing three buttons once a day at bed time is not that big deal for my now 5-year old that still loves her clock and can easily achieve a 3-button press. Click here to view the full manual.
Environment & People
The Gro Company has not made any information publicly available about their sustainability, ethics or corporate social responsibility policies, but is an award winning, reputable business trading in multiple countries.
The Gro Clock uses LED lighting with an energy efficiency timer in the day which turns off the lights when it is not actively in use and uses little electricity to run. It is durable and will last for years if treated with care. At the end of its lifespan it cannot be recycled and is not safe to dispose of as regular household waste.
Currently available for £16.99 from Amazon which is a good price for a durable (if handled with care), reliable product. Sleep trainer clocks range in cost from £15 – 35 and the Gro Clock has a neutral, sensible appeal and the ability to switch off the nightlight function is great for children and parents who prefer darker bedrooms.
Size: 12.4 x 16.4 x 22.4 cm
Item Weight: 599g
Textile: fabric, vinyl or leather, waterproof?
Environment: Indoors use only
Optimized for right-hand use (buttons are oriented on the right of the device)
Target gender: Unisex
Age range: 18 months+
Access to mains outlet, does not use batteries.
Sleep is vital for everyone. It can be an illusive thing for young children and their parents. Everyone dreams of a good night’s sleep every night. The Gro Clock is not a magical device. It doesn’t make children sleep until it’s time to wake up, however it can be a great help to create and maintain good sleep hygiene.
I would recommend it with caution for children with behavioral problems. It is easy to disable unless entirely out of reach by pulling the plug out from the clock and the buttons are unlocked with a single button hold. I would recommended the Gro-Clock for unsound and happy sleepers between two and five years old to help establish regular sleep routines and make the night a friendlier place.
The review is based on the latest Gro Clock (2010 edition). This article was first published on 29 February January 2016.