Family life

This book promised to make my kid fall asleep—but she's still awake!

"By the end of the book, despite following the book’s instructions for intonation and speed of reading, my daughter was still wide awake. And not pleased."


A couple of weeks ago, Today’s Parent editor-in-chief Sasha Emmons emailed me and said, “You’re having trouble getting Sophie to sleep, right? Do you want to try this book the Internet is raving about?”

I couldn’t write back fast enough. “Yes, yes, yes! I’ll try anything!”

A few days later, the book arrived: The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep, by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin. At first glance, I thought, “Well, the capitalization is way off in the title and the illustrations are a little unrefined, but hey, if it works, it works.” I told Soph at dinner that night we had a new story to try at bedtime.

The book claims to be an “innovative and groundbreaking type of bedtime story that uses sophisticated psychological techniques. These are formed in a way to help the child relax, fall asleep faster and stay calmer every night.” Great, sign us up.

On the first night, we did our usual routine: teeth brushed, hair combed, gather the stuffies, snuggle into bed. I did one Robert Munsch book (her all-time favourite writer) and then launched into The Rabbit.

I don’t know if the book is essentially written to bore kids to sleep, but after four pages, I could hardly stand to read anymore. Sophie dutifully listened to the first half of the book but somewhere in the middle, I could see her eyes start to wander. Then she started to hum a little made-up song. By the end of the book, despite following the book’s instructions for intonation and speed of reading, she was still wide awake. And not pleased.


Sophie: “That book is long.”

Katie: “I know.”

Sophie: “But not good long, like when you read me an extra story.”

Katie: “Well, maybe you’ll like it better tomorrow night.”

Night two…


Sophie, incredulously: “Not this book again?!”

Katie: “Give it another chance.”

Halfway through the book…

Sophie: “It’s like the writer doesn’t know all the words I know.”

Katie, stifling laughter: “Well, the writer is repeating certain words and phrases to tell your brain to go to sleep.”


Sophie: “Well, my brain is telling the book that I don’t like it.”

Night three…

Sophie: “Mommy, I’m only reading this book one more time. OK? That’s two chances.”

I think, “The kid has a point. We’ll give this one more shot.”

Three pages in, I look over and her eyes are a little bit closed. I think, “OK, maybe we’re getting somewhere.”


Two more pages go by and her eyes are fully closed. I read to the very end and silently apologize to Ehrlin for doubting his technique. I close the book and slide off of Soph’s bed. I have one foot out the door when I hear the giggling.

Sophie, sitting upright, laughing hysterically: “I fooled you, I fooled you! Now can we read a real book?”

Parents out there, if this book worked for you, I’m so happy for you. I can see how it might. But in my house? This book drew bedtime out for an extra 20 minutes (because it was so long) and I ended up with the same three-year-old rigmarole anyway. Give it a shot, but don’t be surprised if your kiddo catches on like mine did. Whenever I mention The Rabbit now, I get Sophie the Comedian telling anyone within earshot about how she tricked me. And I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the point.

Walmart Live Better editor-in-chief Katie Dupuis likes structure and organization. A lot. Now, imagine this Type A editor with a baby. Funny, right? We’re sure you’ll love Katie’s musings on life with Sophie, Juliette and husband Blaine. Read all of Katie’s Type A Baby posts and follow her on Twitter @katie_dupuis.

Read more: 6 ways to help your kid get a good night's sleep>

This article was originally published on Sep 28, 2015

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