When our son was only a few months old, we started a nap and bedtime routine. It was recommended to us from all the books, websites, magazines, doctors, and parents that we read, browsed, talked to or heard from. Our routine is pretty basic. At bedtime it consists of a bath, book, bottle, bedtime prayers, some rocking and then bed. Our nap routine is a much briefer version with just a diaper change and some rocking. In both instances, we have limited our rocking to no more than three songs as this is typically enough time to help him relax. And as every sleep manual will tell you, it's best to put him down "snoozy but awake" so he learns to fall asleep on his own. Up until recently, by the second or third song, he was often close to or already asleep in my arms.
Perhaps it's a developmental stage, but this no longer happens. I don't know if it's stubbornness, an inability to get comfortable, or just a desire to go to sleep on his own, but often times at the end of our rocking, I put him in the crib wide awake. He doesn't fuss or complain and typically seems to go right to sleep, so I know I shouldn't complain. And if I am being honest, there were plenty of nap times or bed times prior to this recent development when I would watch his face in anticipation of those eyes closing so I could set him in the crib and get to the 1,000 other things I needed to be doing. But now, watching his eyelids close, hearing his breathing become slow and steady, and feeling his weight as his whole body relaxes is a rare occurrence. I would never have guessed how much I'd miss it.