the best creativity magazine in the UK, the best book magazine in the UK, the best arts magazine in the UK, the best entertainment magazine in the UK, the best celebrity magazine in the UK, book marketing UK, book promotion UK, music marketing UK, music promotion UK, film marketing UK, film promotion UK, arts and entertainment magazine, online magazine uk, creativity magazine

Sharing is caring!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, Hasan Merali shares the work that went into his new self help book inspired by the lives of toddlers, Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish The Peas.

Buy Me a Coffee at
the best creativity magazine in the UK, the best book magazine in the UK, the best arts magazine in the UK, the best entertainment magazine in the UK, the best celebrity magazine in the UK, book marketing UK, book promotion UK, music marketing UK, music promotion UK, film marketing UK, film promotion UK, arts and entertainment magazine, online magazine uk, creativity magazine

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed Hasan Merali about his life and career, why the lives of toddlers inspired him to write his new self help book, Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish The Peas, and his writing process.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I’m a pediatric emergency medicine doctor and associate professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. I am also a child health researcher focusing on global child health.

Hasan Merali on The Table Read Magazine
Hasan Merali

More recently, I have become a proud father of a little girl who is now three years old. She, along with all the other toddlers I have the privilege of caring for, inspired me to become an author.   

When did you first WANT to write a book?

I have been working in pediatrics for fourteen years now and I would say the idea for this book started early on. Through my experience caring for young children, there were so many moments where I was both amazed and fascinated by the wonderful ways they approach the world and interact with others.

They fill their lives with laughter, play, and learning. As I learned more about these behaviors, and so many others they possess to help them live a positive and happy life, it got me thinking about what they could teach adults. I kept these ideas as notes which were tucked away until recently.

When did you take a step to start writing?

I am extremely fortunate, living in Canada, that my wife and I had a year of parental leave. When our daughter Arya was born, my wife took the first six months off to care for her, and then I took the next six months off. This was also during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic so not only did I not have to work or respond to emails, my daughter and I were largely isolated at home without many activities during the day.

While most of my time was spent blending food, doing laundry because of all the spit-up, and playing peek-a-boo, my daughter took two naps each day. It was during this time of complete peace that I started to write my manuscript. I knew there would never be a better time and I know how fortunate I was to have this time that many other people do not.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

From the time I started writing at the beginning of my parental leave, it took three years to get the book published. There were many ups and downs along the way from signing with my top choice literary agent, to then getting many rejections from publishers, to finally finding a publisher and editor who truly believed in me and in my book.

What made you want to write Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish The Peas?

I strongly believe that toddlers are among the best people in society, and we have a lot to learn from them. They often get an unfair reputation because of their brief temper tantrums. Yes, temper tantrums are real, and they get noticed because they are loud and dramatic, but that is not how toddlers spend 99% of their time. Tantrums are just a few minutes out of their day while the rest of a toddler’s day is spent eating well, exercising, reading, taking risks, and overall living an enjoyable life filled with learning and building relationships.

Since toddlers are only at the stage of tracing letters on paper, I wanted to give them a voice and write this book to explain the lessons they have to offer the world on how to live better.

What were your biggest challenges with writing Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish The Peas?

I would say the biggest challenge was demystifying toddler misconceptions which I had to do by diving into the research. For example, aside from having tantrums, toddlers also get an unfair reputation for being “picky eaters” or always wanting to eat cookies. But this is not true. They are actually more in tune with their bodies and simply stop eating when they are full, unlike many adults who eat past their hunger cues. Toddlers also don’t overindulge in sweets if they are not restricted. So, while it was challenging to dive deep into hundreds of research papers, it was also rewarding because not only did I learn more about toddlers, but I was also able to build a stronger case as to why their behavior is exemplary in many situations.

Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish The Peas by Hasan Merali on The Table Read Magazine
Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish The Peas by Hasan Merali

What was your research process for Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish The Peas?

As a researcher, I am used to taking research questions, formulating a hypothesis, and then going about collecting data on the issue. For this book, however, my process was quite a bit different. Much of what I started with were interactions, stories, anecdotes, or videos that I had seen of toddler behavior. When I thought there was something important, I would then go to the research literature and check if what I was seeing was representative of toddler behavior more generally. If it was, then my next step would be to look at if that behavior was proven to increase adult well-being. Anything I wrote about in the book had to meet both of these criteria. Often, I would find something a toddler would do but then when I did my research, found that it was not characteristic of toddlers more generally, so I didn’t pursue those topics.

What I wanted for the book is to have everything I write about (including the many humorous stories of toddler behavior), backed up by science. The same is true for my recommendations for adult wellness. The strategies had to be proven in multiple research studies or they weren’t included in the book.

How did you plan the structure of Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish The Peas?

Although some things may be obvious to readers about toddler behavior, like laughter and play, I truly believe there are many toddler behaviors that can improve our lives at work and not only in our personal lives. For example, toddlers demonstrate model behavior when it comes to working in teams and showing respect for their partners. So, what I did was first divide the book into two sections. The first half is focused primarily on lessons for your personal life, while the second half is focused primarily on lessons for your working life. From there I picked the top five toddler lessons we could adopt for each section.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish The Peas need?

Absolutely! I had a wonderful editor at Health Communications Inc., Darcie Abenne, who helped me to bring out more toddler stories and spend a bit less time on the research details. This helped amplify my own voice through my experiences. This not only made it more fun for me to edit, but I also think this makes the book more fun to read overall. Toddlers are fascinating people! After my editor had seen the first draft, we spent about three months editing and three months copyediting.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?

I think many authors have heard this before, but writing every day helped me tremendously. It doesn’t have to be a long period either. Some days I would only get in thirty minutes, and that’s okay. But the momentum you can build by keeping your writing at the front of your mind is powerful.

The other tool I used, and continue to use, is Focusmate. This is a simple online platform to match you with an accountability partner while you work. You simply explain to the other person what you will be working on for the session, put yourself on mute, and then virtually work together. I think everyone should at least give it a try. It has completely changed the way I work and write, for the better.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

No specific plans right now but I am a strong believer in the lessons we can learn from younger people more generally. This book focuses on toddlers and preschoolers aged one to five. I often think about different lessons we can learn from older children and teenagers.

And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Yes, it was absolutely worth the effort! Writing a book has been a fantastic experience for me, not only because of the final product, but how it has also helped me with my own career growth. Prior to writing a book, I was focused on writing research papers that had a relatively small audience. A book has helped me grow my message beyond writing to podcasts, TV, and radio.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

I regularly share lessons we can learn from toddlers on social media. Please connect with me if you have your own!

Apple Books:




Publisher: Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish the Peas: Secrets from the Science of Toddlers for a Happier, More Successful Way of Life





Donate to support The Table Read Magazine
We strive to keep The Table Read free for both our readers and our contributors. If you have enjoyed our work, please consider donating to help keep The Table Read going!

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply