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Thursday
Aug022007

That Crap You Read about Babies Needing Bedtime Routines? It's All True.

Remember this little guy?

Cute, right? Well, don't be deceived by that sweet little face. That little man is one of THOSE babies. You know, the ones that won't go to bed, won't sleep through the night, and is generally doing his best to make sure his Mom never sleeps more than five consecutive hours for the rest of her life. Jill, you sleepyhead, this story is for you . . .

I am the sleep police. I enforce the law with an iron fist and have done so every single day that Alexis has been alive. When she was five days old, I read a story to her at 8:00 and then put her in her crib to sleep. And while the time has varied a little bit and I've granted a little leeway during vacations, that routine has been that way ever since. Story time. Bed. Sleep in your own crib. And around the time Alexis was 9-months old, I decided I was off duty between the hours of 10:00 pm and 5:00 am. I don't care what Alexis does between those hours, just as long as she does it in the comfort of her own bed. (For the record, if she screams long enough or genuinely seems to need her Mommy, I'm there in a flash. There's no suffering going on.)

And, because I AM the sleep police, I have a child that willingly goes to bed between 8:00 and 8:30 every night and then sleeps until about 6:00. Occasionally she'll fall off the wagon because she's caught a cold or something, but I bring on the enforcement, and we get right back on the wagon.

All this week, Alexis has demonstrated that she no longer needs policing. We go up to her room at 8:00. I sit in the chair. She selects a book from the shelf and brings it to me. She sits in my lap as we read the story. Then she puts that book back on the shelf, grabs another one, and we start the process again. Eventually, she either walks over to her crib and says "Up" or she signs "Sleep". I lay her in her crib, tuck her in, and go on with my evening.

Last night (get ready to eat your heart out, Jill), Alexis was playing with Daddy downstairs. It was a few minutes after 8:00, so I asked her if she was ready to go to bed. She went over to Daddy and gave him a hug and a kiss then told him "bye bye". Then she walked over to the stairs and started up. I followed her and headed straight for the chair, as always. But no, Miss Alexis had other plans. She tried climbing into her crib herself, and when she couldn't, she signed, "Sleep, please" over and over (while I moronically asked "don't you want a story?"), so I picked her up and put her in her crib. I waited for the screams. I mean, she couldn't possibly be telling me she wanted to go to bed already, right? But no, she rolled over, pulled the blanket over herself, and started working on going to sleep. Honest to goodness, she would have put herself to bed last night, if only we had moved her to a toddler bed by now.

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