The world is an exciting, emotionally evocative and potentially daunting place for a child. As a child’s world expands and they develop confidence in exploration, they need to find stability and security in the things they know and are being introduced to.
Routines often act as a crutch for a child, outlining clear boundaries and expectations from the beginning. They allow the child to develop positive habits as certain routines become second-nature; they feel secure and safe within their environment; they develop self-discipline and thoughtfulness as they adhere to carrying out certain tasks at specific times and they build connections to signs, symbols and language, developing not only their confidence but also their relationships.
Whilst understanding the benefits of routines is great, deciding which routines to implement and how best to establish them is imperative.
Over the first 12-18 months of a child’s life, their sleep pattern changes dramatically. Nap times vary and night time sleep patterns become inconsistent with the arrival of each tooth, growth spurt or development stage. Knowing when and how long a little one will sleep for can sometimes be tricky to predict.
However, whilst their development makes it difficult to be confident of their sleep pattern, we can help by establishing positive routines, enabling them to recognise when it is time for sleep and when to curl up and shut their eyes. For bedtime, you could consider the following:
1. Read them a story whilst they have their milk. (Some like to give babies milk right before bed but once they have teeth, it is advised to bring this forward.)
2. Bath time including cleaning their teeth
3. Get them ready for bed and create a calming atmosphere, if the wriggle monsters will allow it.
4. Snuggle up in their room, read them a story with a drink of water and gently tuck them in.
5. Kiss them on the head and leave the room.
Whilst you may have battles some nights, establishing a bedtime routine from an early age will help them to develop independent self-soothing skills, hopefully allowing for a good night’s sleep for all.
Creating routine times for feeding a child is a great way to prevent moaning and keep them fuelled for their extremely busy days. Possible times for a toddler:
☑ 7.00am – Milk
☑ 7.30am – Breakfast
☑ 9.30am – Snack
☑ 11.30am – Lunch
☑ 3.00pm – Snack
☑ 5.00pm – Dinner
☑ 6.30pm – Milk
(Some people like to give extra milk throughout the day to top up their levels)
When to introduce routines?
Introducing routines can and should happen from an early age to establish positive habits for children. A child will let you know when they are ready for these routines as they begin to push boundaries and cope with more developments. Ensuring that you have a clear structure to the day is the main routine to establish. Considering other habits such as, always eating food in the high chair and tidying up toys before bedtime can help a child to become more self-disciplined and secure.
Allow your rascal to benefit from routines and develop confident connections with their surrounding world!