One thing I was definitely not expecting out of toddlerhood was the fact that putting a time limit on anything – getting out the door, taking a bath, going to bed – was going to cause a major breakdown. Of course, no toddler wants to go to bed. But putting Annie down for naps and her “big sleep” had become such a major production, it took at least an hour to get her to sleep, and Tanner and I were consistently going to bed separately every single night. It just felt wrong.

Similarly, getting out to door to go practically anywhere was a struggle. Suddenly, Annie was a homebody. Telling her we had somewhere to be, like the grocery store, a doctor’s appointment, or anything like that caused chaos. I saw that Milena Ciccioti was using a “toddler timer” on her Instagram stories and immediately started searching around online.

How the toddler timer changed our daily routine

I expected that this new timer ritual would take some getting used to. After all, how is a toddler supposed to just understand the concept of time and responsibility just because I spent $20 on an Amazon gadget? It’s not like it’s witchcraft.

But maybe it is…

Because no matter what it is – dinner time, bath time, bedtime, screen time – if I use this timer to set limits around how much time she has for independent play before it’s time to take care of responsibilities, she just MAGICALLY gets it. I couldn’t even begin to describe to you how it works. It just does. I set the timer, tell her how much time she has, show her on the clock, and when the alarm beeps, she’s off. She actually runs to do whatever it is I told her to do.


This amazon timer solved all of our toddler tantrum problems for under $20! Affiliate link >> #parentinghacks

♬ More Than Friends – Aidan Bissett

How to use a toddler timer

Let’s start with why I think this is such a great product and ritual to implement into your everyday routine.

  • When you twist the timer, it fills the set time with red so that your toddler can visualize exactly how much time they have to finish their activity before it’s time to take care of business. (Yay for introducing your toddler to the old fashioned clock concept!)
  • It’s been teaching Annie personal responsibility. We had a great conversation about “negotiables and non-negotiables.” It was so cute to hear her try to say it. When she is playing, it’s negotiable because she gets to choose what she plays with. Snack time is negotiable because she gets to use her snack. But when the timer goes off, it’s time for the non-negotiables – bedtime, bathtime, and getting ready to leave the house.
  • Putting a time limit on her independent play has made her appreciate that time more and play more creatively.

I believe this has worked for her so well because I talk to her logically, like an adult. She’s a very logical little girl! She responds best when I explain to her what we’re doing and why, and I never try to dumb it down. I give her real numbers when I set the timer. I tell her what she has to do when the timer alarm goes off and why (“When you hear the timer beep, it’s time to come inside and take a bath because playing in the grass makes your skin itchy. Have fun playing for fifteen minutes, then the alarm will beep.”

Click the affiliate link image below to get your own toddler timer!