Routines in a child’s life are like day planners for adults. A routine is an event that occurs repeatedly over a period of time, such as a bedtime routine. When a family uses routines in their daily life, it helps to reduce stress. Routines bring order because they establish a sort of schedule around a child’s needs. When followed consistently a routine will help build security and trust within a child. A secure child thrives when they don’t have to wonder if their needs will be met.
There are people that enjoy the life of order, organization and routine. Then there are others who feels constricted using routines. Neither is right nor wrong, but research does shows that young children thrive in a structured environment in which routines are used, which is why good day cares or preschools use them.
Young children have many needs in which they rely on a caregiver to meet. The busier the household is, the more a routine becomes essential for the children and the parents.
Here is what I’ve also observed: Homes where there is much chaos and running around and excessive noise usually also have children that are clingy, whiny, tired or all of the above. Pair that with burned out, stressed out parents and you have a recipe for lack of enjoyment in parenthood. Sure, young children naturally bring chaos and disorder into a home, but it doesn’t have to be lived with daily. That’s where routines can help.
When a parent agrees that they are overburdened and not enjoying parenthood, and they are ready to make changes in their life, I recommend started a with one routine at time. The best one to establish is one of sleep.
Here is one way to establish a bedtime routine for children.
1) First, determine the amount of sleep your infant or child needs in a 24-hour period.
Newborns need 14-16 hours
Older infants need 14 hours on average
1 to 3 year olds need 12 to 14 hours
3 to 6 year olds need 10 to 12 hours
2) For newborns, make sure to keep the bedroom environment “sleepy” and remove anything unrelated to sleep, such a TVs, toys, and telephones. Teach him the difference between night and day. From about 2 weeks old, you can help your baby distinguish day and night by playing with him when he’s awake in the day and by stimulating his senses with toys, music and also by taking him outside to parks or mother and baby groups. Chat with him and don’t try to reduce normal daytime noises like the washing machine or TV. During the night keep noise and light to a minimum,try not to talk too much.
Avoid rocking or feeding your baby right before sleep. If in the first few weeks your baby is rocked to sleep or allowed to fall asleep during a feed, he will learn to expect this and will depend on it to get to sleep as he gets older.
3. For older infants, set regular bedtimes. Stick to these times even on weekends. Your routine can include giving a bath, reading a story and singing a lullaby. Whatever you choose to do, be consistent with it. Treat daytime naps like bed time, babies thrive on consistency so try to stick to the same routine even for naps. This will help baby learn the difference between learning to sleep and time to play.