Bedtime Routine

Dear BabyBird,

You are so good with your bedtime routine! I think we take it for granted now, but we’ve had it down to an art ever since nine months or so, and after a year has really been smooth.

Most nights we start right after dinner since you make quite a mess (especially when Mommy makes one of your favorite messy pastas!), so it’s upstairs after a quick hand wash to start right in on bath. Since you’re walking all around you love to help me out getting the water going, testing it many times to make sure the temperature is just right, and eyeing which bath toys you’d like to play with. Since your new school changes kids standing up to help get them ready for the toddler years, we’ve been doing the same thing before bath – so it’s hands up, shirt off, step out of pants or shorts, lift each foot for socks (you are starting to get “left” and “right!”), and then a pat on the diaper to make sure I don’t forget it. Diaper comes off, and then into the bath you go!

From the bath toys we always pick a letter and number who’ve sponsored the bath to play with (our silly nod to Seasame Street which incidentally has you recognizing quite a few letters and numbers), and your rubber ducky whom you address as a very staccato “duk”. We also have some plastic cups that let water pour through like a sprinkler which you’ve loved since you were a baby watching us pour them, and now are able to dunk and fling them all over the place (including outside the tub). You’re also a great splasher, and if we’re having a silly night can completely drench me before we’re through!

We wash up (sometimes, but not always, with soap), play a bit, and then I’ll ask if you’re “all done”. You love to hand me each toy individually as I ask for it, and when I say “one, two, three drain the baby!” you’ll proudly stand up and put your arms out ready to get out. Then it’s “one, two, three drain the bath!” and we empty out the tub. We dry off, sing and play peakaboo, put on some diaper cream, diaper, and lotion, and then it’s time to decide what to do before bed.

When you were smaller we’d usually head right into stories and bottle, but now that you’re starting to push the end of bedtime back a bit you love getting in some piano right before going to sleep. You brighten up right away any time I ask if we should play some piano (and make a crude, but mostly accurate, sign for playing piano), and we’ll head downstairs in pajamas to play a few songs. You’re so well behaved, sitting patiently in my lap, legs tucked between mine, hands folded, eager for the music to start. Knowing how squirmy and active you are any other time I’m with you it’s amazing to me how focused and still you are when we’re playing piano. You love hearing your same favorite songs each night which can be trying when I want to mix in a few new ones (trust me, after a couple nights they’ll be favorites too!), and depending how much energy you have left you usually start banging away here and there to help me out. Some nights we do a lot of silly songs with singing, like Elmo’s (and Cayden’s) Song or others we’ve made up words to, or if you’re sleepier I might just play your favorites while you watch and listen. Sometimes when you’re really tired you’ll start swaying and nodding off, then quickly waking back up and feigning full alertness, reminding me inescapably of a drowsy kid in a lecture trying to stay awake after not enough sleep (which was me through most of college!).

Finally, when you’re tired we head upstairs for some milk (we are almost ready to wean that last bottle… really…) and stories. Usually Mommy gets to snuggle with you for this part, but once in awhile we change it up. One of our favorite traditions has been to ask each other what our favorite parts of the day are, which for Mommy and me usually involve something silly, cute, or new you’ve done to make us happy and proud. We muse about your favorite parts sometimes as well, and can’t wait until you’re able to tell us yourself exactly what made your day special. You’ll ask us pointedly for which book(s) you want to read, mostly “buh” with a determined pointer, and if we grab the wrong one it will be immediately dismissed with a brush of your hands. You really like Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Gorilla, Each Peach Pear Plum, and the Llama Llama books, but sometimes we can sneak in others. We’ll read a book, have some milk, another book when you push it away and demand “buh”, and then eventually instead of a book you’ll tell us “shhh shhh”, your adorable mock snoring that means you’re ready to sleep.

We brush teeth as quickly as we can which for now consists of us demoing it, you getting to try it yourself a bit, and us sneaking in a couple brushes for you until you’ve had enough. Then you get to flip off the light switch and it’s into the crib for sleep. You love to cuddle up on your softest blankets, usually on your side or belly, and will re-arrange yourself repeatedly until you get it just right. Most nights we’re able to just say goodnight and we love you, walk out and close the door, and you’re fast asleep within minutes without any trouble.

Thank you for being such a good sleeper and bringing this little bit of joy to every evening no matter how our day has gone!

Love,
Daddy