MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- How early did your kids wake up to see Santa Claus? There's no denying the holiday season is busy, and bedtime can make the bedtime even busier.
But one stocking stuffer designed by a pair of Minnesota mothers not only promises to help your children, but may even help you as well.
The ELO, a "storytime pillow," promises to play downloaded audiobooks, lullabies, and soothing sounds when a child's head is at rest.
Co-founder Killian Reider is hoping to give the gift of sleep this holiday season. Reider, who is a St. Charles native, found herself spending sometime two hours putting her youngest daughter to bed.
Maple Grove mother of three Michelle Sanchez was experiencing the same problems. Her 4-year-old son Kristian wasn't getting to bed early enough.
"Basically bedtime became extended playtime," said Sanchez.
That's when Sanchez decided to try the ELO pillow. The pillow plays a story of your child's choice from a playlist ever so softly. The key is the pillow only works when your child is lying down. Any time Kristian sits up, the pillow asks him in a very soft nighttime voice to lay back down and listen to the rest of the story.
"They actually stay in bed, that's really the biggest difference," Sanchez said.
Rieder calls her invention "a tool for exhausted moms." She herself noticed an immediate change at bedtime; the pillow calmed her daughter down in the evening.
But she says the pillow isn't designed to replace story time with your child.
"The real key is it's a part of the bedtime routine, not to replace parents," Reider said, emphasizing that spending time with your child and reading stories one-on-one is an important bedtime tool.
A "dream team" of Minnesota based specialists helped design the algorithm for ELO. School counselor Angie Johnson was on that dream team, which focused on the pillow's cadence, tone of narration, all the way down to book selection.
She said this pillow packed with a nighttime punch isn't just a story, but helps children relax and unwind.
"Using the pillow, we have seen there is less confrontation at nighttime and kids actually want to go bed," said Johnson, who has over two decades of experience working in education.
Johnson said if you're a parent who struggles with your kid's nighttime routine, this could cut bedtime in half.
Sanchez said the device seems to be working for her family.
"My daughter asked me if there was magic in the pillow," she said.
The pillows sell for $150 and are available online or at a kiosk in the Mall of America. They're recommended for ages 2 to 9.
The pillow is battery operated, and plays the stories through a Wi-Fi operated playlist. Killian said since the product hit the market, they've only had one parent send it back.
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