Each day is a huge adventure of new knowledge for babies. This can be a bit too much for them. However, routines can provide them some relief from the chaos. Harvey Karp, MD, creator of the DVD and book, The Happiest Baby on the Block says "If you spend your entire work day mastering new tasks, you appreciate your regular coffee breaks."
There are different things you can do as a parent to introduce a routine. These are very simple things that can be easily implemented within different months of their early life.
Tips for routines 0-7 months
Introduce your baby to habits which will assist you with your baby’s biological clock. This will help you set routines and indicate those routines to your baby. Such habits include exposing your babies to sunlight within the first 2 months so that they can differentiate between day and night. After the first 3 months, you can dim the light when it is sleep time, giving them a bath and milk before sleep and have your babies play with their favorite toy when they are stressed. After the first 7 months you can start implementing a schedule for eating and sleeping.
Tips for routines 7-12 months
Routines not only soothe babies in stressful situations, but also aid in their development. Lawrence Shapiro, PhD, author of The Secret Language of Children: How to Understand What Your Kids Are Really Saying states that "When a child learns that it's time to go to bed, not play, she's beginning to understand that she has to follow rules.” Also around this age, your baby will understand that people and objects exist even if they cannot see them. This might be a bit scary for your baby. Having a routine that reminds your baby he/she is in a safe place will make new challenges and experiences less scary.
Tips for routines after 12 months
At this point your routines will help your child to understand sequencing like knowing that bath comes after dinner, putting your shoes on after socks. Knowing what to do next will also help with your child’s confidence. When your child becomes pre-school age, the routines have become set schedules, but your child will want more of a say as well. Providing compromise at this point definitely goes a long way. You don’t have to compromise your child’s sleep schedule, but you can let them choose which pajamas to wear. Also, keeping things constant for introduction to new elements can help. For example, when you are switching to solid food, doing it on the same chair and at the same time can ease the switch from the bottle. For stressful situations, like the first day of school, introduce a calming ritual such as a hug, a raspberry kiss, etc.
Routines help with your child’s emotional and social development. It helps parents introduce familiar elements to ease introducing their children to unfamiliar situations. However, things might change from time to time and experts agree that it is okay to go with the flow. A couple unexpected departures from routines can also teach your child flexibility and tolerance.
So, make sure you introduce routines as a parent and remember to be flexible.