Routines make children feel safe. It is important to establish routines from the beginning. Yes a baby does dictate when they will eat, and sleep, but you can ensure that those demands become part of a routine. All children; from infancy until elementary school need to know the order of their day. What do they do first, how will they end their day at night. As a parent of two and an early childhood teacher, I teach routines 365 days of the year. Trust me when little ones don’t know what is happening next then it can become ugly. Here are a few tips and tricks on establishing routines.
Why are routines important?
Routines are important because children can not tell time. As adults we dictate our days based on time. I know that every morning at 7 I will wake up and prepare breakfast for my little ones, but my little guys can’t tell time. Our little ones just know that when mommy or daddy wake them up in the morning their day begins. Knowing that the same predictable schedule will happen every day gives children a sense of control, a sense of safety. Just think about it, a child’s life is a predictable, repetitive deja vu everyday until they can tell time. Think about the first family vacation and how the little ones are so exhausted and tired from the change in their days over the course of the vacation. Children need schedules. Here are a few tips on establishing a routine for baby.
Your newborns schedule when they first come home will be dictated by them. They will let you know when they want to eat and sleep. To ensure that their pattern becomes a schedule is to pay attention to when these events happen and how often they happen. Decide when you change their diaper, read to them, or have tummy time. As your baby begins to grow they will begin to sleep more at night (Yay!!) and have longer stretches of awake time during the day. Remember that a routine dictates the order, and time when events will occur. But if your child becomes tired and it is not nap time, go ahead and put him down. An overtired baby will not rest as well at night. Anticipate your baby’s natural sleep times to ensure you put them to sleep so they will not become over tired.
Tips on Establishing a sleep routine
- Pay attention to your baby’s sleep schedule. When your child is showing signs of being tired put them to sleep. If your child becomes overly tired it will make putting them to sleep harder.
- Plan on doing the same thing every day. Your baby’s schedule at first will be the same: eat, sleep, poop repeat. As they get older then you can begin tummy time, plan a reading time during the day and introduce play time.
- Establish a bedtime routine. Once you have determine your baby’s natural sleep patterns, then establish a comforting and quiet bedtime routine 20 minutes before bedtime. This routine can include a warm bath, and feeding.
- Be consistent and persistent. Every night do the same routine to get baby to sleep. Even if your child is apprehensive to go to sleep at the designated sleep time do not give up, continue with your night time routine. This will ensure that your child will go to sleep at the same time every night. If you would like your child to go to sleep earlier then move your night time routine 20 minutes earlier every night until your baby goes to sleep at the time you would like.
- Set the mood. Make sure that your baby’s room ambience is set for rest. Play white noise music, and turn on a night light. This will atmosphere will let your baby know that it is time to sleep and stay asleep.
Hopefully these tips will help you establish a day time and night time schedule that you can use to help you and your baby establish a routine.