Just A Little Routine Can Go A Long WayIn our society, routines are often described as boring or conforming, and typically don’t hold much appeal. But to very young children, small routines related to basic care like feeding, toileting and bedtimes can help them feel more secure, and can give them the emotional tools they need to more readily handle bigger changes in their lives. Additionally, establishing healthy habits early in life can help ensure that children will continue those healthy habits well into adulthood.When a baby is first born, she looks to her parents and caregivers for the basic care that will help her survive and thrive. She quickly learns that if she cries, she will be fed or cuddled, for example. A young child that consistently misses naptimes when she is tired, or whose cries are ignored when she is hungry, experiences high levels of stress that can be toxic to her developing brain. Establishing predictable patterns around when she will be fed or played with will help her learn that she is loved and cared for, and reduces any anxiety that those things will not happen.These early healthy habits can be helpful to parents, too. Experts agree that parents and caregivers who practice routines with their children feel more relaxed, and have more time to enjoy the things that they like to do as well.Some ways that parents can practice setting routines for their very little ones include establishing family mealtimes, wherein children learn that nourishment comes at certain times during the day and is experienced with loved ones close by. Parents can also practice setting regular naptimes and bedtimes for babies as early as four months, and can signal to their children that it’s time to sleep by giving a bath, reading a book or singing a song. And if an established routine is turned upside down due to illness or travel, returning to a familiar schedule can be done fairly easily. The more consistency a child experiences in his day-to-day life, the better prepared and happier he will be.
- A list of daily routines that can be helpful for parents and children alike, from PBS.
- In defense of bedtime—a short piece on how setting a regular bedtime can help a baby’s brain develop, and prevent illness in the long run.
- How you can help raise a healthy eater, from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In The News:
- “Preventing Childhood Obesity: How to Help Kids Shed Weight by Changing Home Routines”, Huffington Post, September 9, 2013.
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