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The light from the toddler sleeping heavens has finally shone down on my house, and my husband can now put our son to sleep. No, he hasn’t started lactating — Amazon sent the new parental phenomenon The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin.
The author, a Swedish psychologist, has written a purposely boring book about a rabbit that includes detailed instructions on how the parent (or any person desperate to get a child to sleep) should read the book. The instructions include prompts to yawn, words to emphasize, and areas where you slow your speech. These psychological techniques are intended to put the child into a sort of hypnosis that ends in a deep sleep. The book goes so far as to make the lofty claim that it can even coax the children most averse to bedtime into closing those little lids, and has a sign on the cover reading, “I can make anyone fall asleep.”
When this book first appeared on my radar, it sounded lovely in theory, but I was certain it wouldn’t have much of an effect on my child, similar to every single potty training technique I’ve ever heard. And teething rings.
But I was wrong, and oh how I loved being wrong.
The first three pages were met with my son driving a truck across the top of the page, the attempt to free my boob from my shirt, and my husband snoring next to us. Page four was the game changer. My I-must-nurse-if-you-want-me-to-sleep son crawled into my lap and began yawning after my prompts (which the book told me to make). He would occasionally jab the rabbit with a chubby finger and whisper “wabbit,” but seemed to be fading.
By page twenty, I was fairly certain he was asleep, but didn’t dare jinx it by looking at him, breaking my reading pattern, or taking too deep of a breath. As I closed the book, I had the dead weight of a sleeping toddler atop my numb arm and no one was touching my boobs — a miracle I tell you.
I laid my son down, kissed my sleeping hubs, and went into the living room and watched Netflix by myself. I was basking in the light of the toddler sleeping heavens.
The next evening my husband and son faced the book without me and were asleep within 10 minutes of cracking it open. Another Netflix night for mama.
And I wasn’t alone in my victory. After reaching out to mom and dad friends alike, I heard a resounding, “Oh my wow, this thing actually works.”
One friend reported falling asleep before finishing the book and waking up at 3 AM in her child’s bed with her little guy snoring next to her and the book crumpled beneath them.
Another fellow parent had to bargain with her 7-year-old, reading three books the child deemed “not boring” before they made it to the rabbit, who hypnotized the child into sleep by page six.
The only experience I’ve heard that did not result in a sleeping child was from the mother of a 3-year-old who said her child threw up on her an hour after reading it; he had the stomach flu. Even the most hypnotic device can’t compete with nausea.
Jury is in, at least from my social group — this book works, but why? Why has it achieved what so many others before it have failed to?
As a Certified Hypnotherapist I’ve tried every trick up my sleeve, and bra, to get my child to sleep, and most tricks (aka: every single one) fell short.
“The major value of this book is the explicit instructions for using a slow, rhythmic cadence and pace as you read. Sometimes as parents, even though we know we should use a calm voice, we’re hurried and reading quickly — and our kids sense that we’re rushing.
Also sound advice is reading in very dim light. The fact that kids aren’t really encouraged to look at the pictures, but to just relax and listen to the words helps them shift into drowsy mode. Light is highly activating to the brain.”
Heather goes on to cite the benefits of progressive muscle relaxation:
“This is a standard technique for helping people of all ages relax. You focus your attention on each body part and relax it. It’s great to teach this to kids, especially older kids who can feel anxious or have worried thoughts before bed. The progressive muscle relaxation helps them shift their focus away from those thoughts and allows sleep to take over.”
There you have it folks — another handy tool for our parenting bag of tricks. Here’s hoping the sleepy rabbit can coax your cherub into that heavenly land of sleep.