The power of routines in babies lives
Becoming a mother changed this lifestyle, of course. For a baby, everything is new and easily overwhelming. I am often amazed at their resilience, at their courage to experience something ever-changing, ever new. Even the same place feels different as they can see more, hear more, notice more things. It is incredible.
But to manage all of these adventures, their own bodies and brains developing at an incredible speed, and an increasing level of awareness, there’s something we can do to help. And that support is to provide, as much as possible, a steady, reliable environment. This, to our family, means avoiding changing the rooms as little as possible (sounds, smells, the location of toys and furniture, etc.), interacting with a few close people during the first months, and providing as much predictability as possible. Here enters the need for routines.
The baby has no control over what’s happening, he can only show disagreement or express his feelings to a very basic extent. He cannot tell you much, and he can decide even less. So, just imagine for a second: your body keeps changing, your mind and perception keep changing, the world around you looks giant, strange and completely different all the time. Things fall and disappear, sounds and scents come and go, people touch you, grab you and decide when you sleep and eat – or try to, anyway.
The routine allows you to at least start predicting what’s coming next, to understand better what is happening at the moment. There’s a bib, food is coming. Mummy picked me up, she’ll change my diaper. Daddy is holding me, he will sing. Now we go play, now we go for our walk. Then we’ll eat again.
It becomes a great gift for a child, the ability to know what’s happening and what will be coming afterwards. They can then focus and spend their time and energy on everything else they need to explore the world. It helps them feel safe and confident to then go and try things out for themselves.
There’s nothing boring about routine for a baby. I hear about boredom often, regarding babies -how can they be bored, even if they were just cuddling in your arms the whole day? They just got out of a warm, dark, cosy place where all their needs were being satisfied. Now they get tired, hungry, cold, warm, itchy and, look!, suddenly they realize they have hands! And feet!
Anyway, by providing this structure and rhythm, each day can and will be different. For example, after waking up the baby and feeding him you play. However, how you play will change every time. And he’ll be trying new tastes, even if he’s just breastfeeding. Your interactions will be unique, even if you are playing peekaboo for the millionth time.
So what’s the point? Now the baby can trust you better, and understand his world better. He will be more confident, stronger. Routine is not a boring gift, it’s a legacy of empowerment.
A gift that keeps on giving, as your baby grows more independent and autonomous. Before you know, he’ll be challenging and negotiating those routines. And a whole new chapter begins!
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