Ever feel like you do the same things over and over every day? Maybe that is not such a bad thing for your kids! I enjoy “changing things up” every once in a while and trying new things. This is one way we learn. But, I also find routines comfortable and necessary each day. We all have a different level of comfort when it comes to routines and variety. Some people like to have every second of the day planned out and others need only one or two routines to feel comfortable. Routines foster a sense of predictability and security, not just for adults, but also for babies. Routines provide a framework for frequent opportunities to practice movement, language, and social skills crucial for development. Research tells us that babies and toddlers learn best through what they see and do every day!
Reasons why routines are important for babies/toddlers
1. Promote a sense of security and predictability
2. Allow babies to recognize patterns in their world and in other’s behavior
3. Provide repetition for modeling and for practice
4. Provide opportunities to introduce concepts of time
Ways to make the most of daily routines
-Talk to your child about what you are doing using similar language each day. Consistent phrases like “Time to Eat”, “Bathtime”, and “Diaper Change” help infants and toddlers begin to understand the meaning of words, practice following simple directions, and express themselves
-Use routines to set up consistent expectations. By doing things in the same way every day, a child has the opportunity to learn what behaviors are expected at certain times. This introduces the process of setting of limits. Warning: Your toddler will test these limits!! This is developmentally appropriate behavior and is yet another way your child is learning!
-Gradually encourage your child to become more independent with these routines by having them start with one step in the routine and then adding more! For example, a first step in learning how to dress is often cooperating with dressing (pushing arms through sleeves, legs through holes in pants) or learning to remove items (taking off hat, shoes, and socks). As your toddler is more independent with these skills, you are able to help him complete more complex parts of the routines.
-Talk about what has already happened, what is happening now, and what will happen to introduce your baby to concepts of time.
-Make one-on-one interactions with you part of your child’s daily routine! You are your child’s first and best teacher! Babies and toddlers learn through social interactions with their caregivers.
Remember to consider what works best for you and your child! No one type routine or schedule will be a good fit your every family. Your routine should fit your needs and comfort level! If your child is having difficulty participating in daily routines are you have concerns about his or her development, we can help! Remember, Babies Can’t Wait! Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB: http://www.racsb.state.va.us/