I’ve been sleeping with someone new, and I feel pretty guilty about it. He’s an iridescent sequin Beanie Boo unicorn named “Uni” and he belongs to my 5-year-old daughter. Uni and I got close because, despite my best intentions, I’ve been passing out in my daughter’s bed mid-lullaby at 8 p.m. most nights lately. Even when I do manage to sneak out, once she’s softly snoring, I wind up back under her ballerina sheets when she wakes at, oh, 3:37 a.m., realizes I’m gone and cries for me.
How did I get here, spooning Uni, my retinol nightcream smearing the mesh guardrail of a toddler bed? I’ve read ALL the sleep training books. I even worked with a sleep therapist years ago to learn how to teach my first baby to self-soothe (this woman = life-changing saint). I’m worried I’ve ruined my daughter’s ability to fall asleep on her own. (What of sleepovers? What of camp?) I feel terrible that her sleep is interrupted when she leaves her bed at all hours to look for me. And on top of all that, I am tired to my very bones. If I could move under this Pottery Barn Kids duvet, I’d be kicking myself.
But a new book called It’s Never Too Late to Sleep Train beckons like a beacon of hope cutting through my brain fog. In it, Dr. Craig Canapari, M.D., director of the Yale Pediatric Sleep Center and a father of two, makes this promise: You can teach a school-age kid to sleep just as successfully as you can an infant, with minimal tears from parent or child. He insists there is no “magical window” to sleep-train a kid that closes after they’re 6 months old. Then he grabs you by the shoulders, looks you right in your under-eye circles and says: “Most kids with sleep difficulties have just one major obstacle to overcome: their parents.”
Maybe it’s the two cups of coffee talking, but I feel help is on its way. Maybe when it comes to changing entrenched childhood sleep habits, it really is better late than never. Read on for more of the book’s biggest eye-openers.