REMI: A Bedtime Buddy for Kids

Remi alarm clock
REMI perches on the headboard next to a plush Porg. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Ah, the stereotypical morning: mom and dad are sleeping, but then—boom!—here comes the kid, big enough to get herself out of bed, but not old enough to know when it’s time to get up. REMI to the rescue!

While our mornings don’t always play out in this fashion, we have had our share of struggles with our three daughters, both with bedtimes and mornings. This was particularly true of our youngest, now five. When she first switched from a crib to a toddler bed, we had a lot of trouble getting her to stay in bed, to the point where we actually switched back to the crib for a couple more weeks. Things got a little better eventually, but she was still taking cues about when to sleep and when to wake up based on how bright it was outside, which meant that during the summer she was out of bed as soon as she woke up, and couldn’t believe it was bedtime in the evening because the sun stayed up so late.

REMI, a sleep companion from UrbanHello, was originally funded through an Indiegogo campaign in November 2015, and is now on the market. REMI retails for $99 and is available from Amazon. It’s available in 4 colors: blue, red, yellow, and white. UrbanHello sent me a sample to try out, so I introduced my daughter to REMI and we tried out its features.

REMI at night
REMI’s eyes close when it’s bedtime, and the nightlight brightness is adjustable. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The device is about 5.5 inches tall, with a friendly round shape and a flat base. When the display is off, REMI looks entirely blank; when on, the display shines through the plastic shell. The top of the device also functions as a nightlight, with an adjustable brightness level. And, of course, there’s REMI’s face—a simple happy face.

REMI app screenshots
Screenshots from the REMI app: baby monitor, home screen, and bedtime schedule.

You connect to REMI using a smartphone app, which sets the clock and gives you access to several functions. First, you can manually control the display and the nightlight brightness from the app’s home screen, changing the face from awake to asleep to off. REMI also serves as a two-way baby monitor: you can press a button to turn on the microphone and listen, or set notifications and a threshold if you want to get an alert when your child wakes up and is making noise. There’s also a “Push to talk” button that lets you talk through REMI’s built-in speaker. Since our house has a lot of stairs (the girls are in a loft on the third floor), it also lets me do things like call them down for dinner without having to yell or run up the stairs.

The bedtime screen of the app gives you access to REMI’s schedule: you can set various times for waking and sleeping, depending on whether your child has the same schedule every day or if it varies from day to day. I set ours for a wake-up time of 7:30, bedtime at 8pm with a nightlight, and then at 9:30 the nightlight and face turn off. When we’re getting my daughter to bed, she’s now able to see that REMI is asleep, and the nightlight gives her a little more visibility in case she needs to get up for the bathroom. At 9:30, the light turns off because she tends to sleep better when it’s totally dark. And then, in the mornings, she checks REMI’s face before getting out of bed. While we still have the occasional resistance to bedtime, I’ve found that REMI has definitely cut back on her getting out of bed too early—she might wake up but then doze a little more after she sees that REMI isn’t awake yet.

REMI Screenshots
Screenshots from the REMI app: sleep tracker, and REMI sounds.

REMI also has a sleep tracker: it uses the microphone to track noise levels overnight, so you can see whether your child got up in the middle of the night or stayed in bed. It’s not quite as accurate for us, because her older sisters go to bed later and aren’t always quiet when they’re getting ready for bed, but I can at least see if somebody was getting up overnight.

Finally, REMI can play music and various other sounds: there are some built-in sounds, marked with a moon for calmer, bedtime sounds and a sun for bright, alarm-type sounds. I’ve tried a few of them, though my daughter prefers listening to her books on CD at bedtime, so we generally haven’t used them as much. You can also play audio through your smartphone or other device if you’re within Bluetooth range, and you can also load MP3s onto REMI directly if you don’t want to tie up your phone.

REMI buttons
REMI has control buttons on its base. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

REMI connects to your wifi network for the app controls, though once you’ve set the times and schedules, you can also disconnect REMI from the network, too. You still have access to a few functions, though, with the buttons on REMI’s base. You can control the volume, turn the alarm on and off, and trigger the naptime routine or play music. I haven’t used these as much since we’re mostly using the automatic schedules. The button on the far left turns the nightlight on and off, which can be useful at bedtime.

Since my youngest is five, we don’t generally need the baby monitor and lullaby features quite as much, but the awake/asleep face has been really useful, and I wish we’d had something like this when she was younger. I know there are other types of bedtime clocks for kids that change colors or light up when it’s okay to get out of bed, so it’s not a unique idea, but REMI is pretty cute, and the added features make it something that my daughter can continue to use as an alarm clock or Bluetooth speaker as she gets older, even if she doesn’t need the face to tell her when it’s bedtime.

For more about REMI, visit the UrbanHello website.

Disclosure: Product sample provided by UrbanHello.

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