Starting a Routine
For some parents, the idea of babies having routines sounds crazy, while others knowingly nod their heads in agreement. Both new and seasoned parents strive to help create some order out of the possible chaos of the few first months and routines are a great way to achieve that.
Babies are born into a world where everything is new to them, and they arrive without much memory to help them remember from one day to the next. Their brains are growing at an amazing rate, though! The more the learning circuits in their brains are repeated, the easier it becomes for them to learn—about us and how we live.
Starting a Routine
While it is important to feed your baby on demand for the first several months of life, once you start to follow a pattern, you’ll help your newborn learn to trust that you will soothe her hunger—if not right this minute, then soon. The same goes for sleeping. Newborns don’t know the difference between night and day. Starting from the first day at home with your baby, follow a nighttime routine of bathing, changing, feeding, lowering the lights and eventually leaving the room. This will help your baby transition into the nighttime sleep routine, teaching her that night is the time for sleeping.
Don’t expect your baby to understand or stick to a routine right away. The patterns that will become routines will soon be clear to you.
To help pave the road to a routine, do things in the same order each day, as you get a feeling for your baby’s rhythm and for what works for both of you.
Our experts have created a list to help you understand why it can be important to have a routine.
Routines help your baby learn about all of the following:
- Your baby will learn to trust you and know that you will make her feel safe and secure.
- A routine will help your baby learn and remember things. Repetition helps build your baby’s memory as she learns to recognize predictability in her strange new world. This makes your baby feel safe and secure. She’ll be able to relax and will have the energy she needs to be curious, to want to explore and learn new things.
- Your baby will begin to build social and language skills. For example, if you always say “goodbye” when someone is leaving, your baby will learn the word “goodbye,” the meaning of the word and the social response that goes with it.
- Routines will help teach your baby about the concept of past, present and future. The repetition of routines helps your baby become familiar with things, which boosts her brain development.
- Your baby will start to build skills. Routines, like a daily bedtime story, give your baby a chance to learn and practice skills, practice taking turns and understand new ideas, such as “wet” and “full.”