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How to Put Your Baby to Bed in 47 Easy Steps

Photograph by Twenty20

Hey, moms—it’s bedtime! Are you ready for the mysterious unknown of what you’re in for tonight?

I know it’s the end of the day and you’re ready to collapse too. Maybe you even will. Or, maybe you’ll fit in 25 little tasks before hitting the hay. Either way, let the rollercoaster of bedtime begin!

First, a little note, I'm not a cry-it-out mom. I nurse or rock or lay with my baby until he falls asleep. And then I sneak out like a ninja, a skill I have been perfecting for years. Some nights, our bedtime routine takes 10 minutes. Some nights, it takes over an hour. Such a wild card, I know.

Between that initial "hey, it's bedtime" and my final exit, there are about 47 steps. Can you relate?

1. Would you look at the clock? Bedtime has arrived!

2. Baby is speckled with dinner remnants, so a bath is in order.

3. Up the stairs, draw a bath, splish-splash around, suds up.

4. Wrestle baby out of the bath. Wet babies are a breed of their own! So slippery!

5. Towel off, lotion up, diaper on, pajamas on.

6. Trim nails because no one wants to be pinched or clawed with those little knives. How on earth can they be so sharp?

7. Settle into the rocking chair with our favorite blanket.

8. Say yes to a story when he motions to the book basket. He won’t ask for that forever.

9. Rock and read. Read and rock.

10. Lights off.

11. Lights back on. Forgot to fill the diffuser with sleepytime oils.

12. Lights off and snuggle in with a goodnight song.

13. Nurse on one side.

14. Sit up to burp.

15. Burp won’t come.

16. Baby wiggles down and starts laughing, crawling around in the dark. Everything is more funny at bedtime!

17. You laugh. Why are they so stinkin’ cute?

18. Cut the laughter. Back in Mama’s lap—it’s bedtime. Calm time. No more giggles!

19. Nurse on the other side.

20. Giant burp!

Walk to the bed contemplating how to successfully transition from my arms to that cold sheet.

21. Baby is barely acting tired. I guess that longer afternoon nap has me in for the long haul tonight.

22. Reach for my AirPods. I’m going to listen to my audiobook while we keep rocking. Mom multitasking at its finest.

23. Cradle baby and hum a little. Whisper, “I love you. It’s time to sleep.”

24. Baby tries to wiggle down again.

25. Turn him on my lap, eye to eye, and say, “Time to sleep. Close eyes.” I know he understands. He laughs again then lays his head on my chest. His smell is intoxicating. These moments are everything.

26. Rock and rock and rock.

27. Baby FINALLY rubs his eyes.

28. Keep rocking. No eye contact.

29. Was that a yawn?

30. Peek down, Baby smiles big. I’ve been caught staring at the precious face!

31. “Shhhhh, shhhhhhh, shhhhhh.”

32. More wiggles. Offer another round of milk.

33. Pat his bottom in a steady beat.

34. Eyes are closed. Still dream feeding, though.

35. Decide to finish listening to the chapter and then attempt the transfer to bed.

36. Rock and rock. Soak up the heaviness of his chubby body.

37. Think, “I could stay here all night together!”

38. Slowly stand. Very, very slowly.

39. Baby shifts, but stays asleep.

40. Walk to the bed, contemplating how to successfully transition Baby from my arms to that cold sheet.

41. Swiftly lay him down and switch to a gentle bottom pat again. Pat, pat, pat.

42. Slow down the pat. Hold my breath.

43. Take one step away, careful to miss that one spot on the floor that creaks.

44. Crouch down for one last peek at that perfect sleeping face.

45. Contemplate taking a photo. Sleeping babies are so freakin’ precious!

46. Decide that tonight lasted long enough—a flash going off and a potential wakeup are not in our best interest.

47. Sneak out the door like a ninja, half hoping he’ll wake in an hour or two for another snuggle, half hoping that this might be the first night he sleeps until morning.

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