Baby Routines: The Importance of a Schedule for Your Infant and Toddler

baby routines



Although it might be tempting to just go with the flow with your baby and toddler, research shows that schedules are extremely important for children.  Learn more about the importance of routines and what your's might look like here.


As many parents know, newborn babies bring a fair amount of chaos with them.  There are the frequent feedings (especially at night), possible digestive issues, and complete lack of routine. In short, infants turn your world upside down!

As your baby progresses from the infant to the toddler stage, though, order can and should be restored.  That's because consistent schedules provide the stability children crave.  They also confer many long-term cognitive and emotional benefits.

Do you have a daily routine set up for your child?  Are you interested in knowing the reasons why routines are important?

If so, you've come to the right place.  Below we'll show you why baby routines are essential to your child's well-being.  You'll even get some tips on how to institute one. Let's go!



Routine Schedules: An Introduction

Infants and toddlers both need consistent schedules.  How you institute daily routines, though, will depend on your child's temperament and age.

Some children thrive on order and consistency, while others need more flexibility.  Over time, you'll figure out which way your child leans.

Also, remember your child's routine must be developmentally appropriate.  For example, newborn babies need a child-led routine.  They cry when they are tired and hungry.  Responsive parents promote emotional bonding and successful breastfeeding.

On the other hand, it's unwise to let an 18-month-old toddler determine the structure of their day.  That's a recipe for chaos! Of course, you can let your child make choices, but, at this age, mealtime and bedtime routines are now up to you.

Within this broad framework, we can show how both infants and toddlers benefit from routine schedules.  Read on for more information!


1. A Schedule Gives Your Child a Sense of Safety and Security

A consistent toddler routine means the same things happen every day at about the same time.  Routines can include just about anything, but almost always cover meals and bedtime activities.

Regardless of what you include, though, this daily repetition of events gives your child a sense of safety and security.  They begin to learn what will happen each day and in what order.

Small children with stable routines are less anxious and more comfortable overall.  In fact, research has shown the negative effects of instability on children of all ages.  Stress can have a profound effect on a child's cognitive development.

When parents have a stable routine to buffer the stress of instability, though, children fare better.  This is true for your toddler as well.

Repetition alleviates their anxiety, making them feel more comfortable.  It also promotes emotional stability.

This is because the toddler learns their caregiver will provide for their basic needs.  They are then free to worry about their own work, that is, playing, exploring, and learning.


2. Daily Routines Prevent Tantrums and Promote Flexibility

A consistent schedule promotes good behavior and relieves the parent of having to say "no" all day long.  How is that?

Let's say your child wakes up early in the morning and wants to play outside right away.  It's time for breakfast, though, and anyway, you always take them outside to play in the afternoon.

It's easy now to say, "I know you want to play outside. But, we eat breakfast at this time.  You know we play outside in the afternoon, and we will later today."

The idea that this is what we do now cuts off a lot of negotiating, and is easier for the young child to accept.  It's true: some toddlers will have a tantrum anyway, but many others will comply and go eat their breakfast.

Similarly, if you have a consistent routine in place, then your child will be able to deal with inevitable disruptions more easily.  Think traveling with your baby, delayed mealtimes, a parent working late. All these things are handled better by children who feel safe and secure to begin with.



What Does An Infant Schedule or a Toddler Schedule Look Like?

As noted above, schedules for babies and toddlers vary depending primarily on age.  The one constant, though, is a bedtime routine.

Most parents institute one early on.  Besides, research has shown consistently the value of quality bedtime routines.  There is a direct link between a consistent routine and:

Consider, then, using one similar to this:

  • give your child a nice, relaxing bath
  • put on their pajamas
  • brush their teeth
  • if your child is potty-trained, have them go to the bathroom
  • read a story
  • sing a song
  • kiss and say good-night

Keeping these things in the same order each night will help your child go to sleep more easily.



Conclusion: Baby Routines

There you have it.  Everything you need to know about baby routines and toddler routines.  A consistent, daily schedule makes your child feel safe and happy.  It's good for you, too, since it reduces tantrums and your child's desire to say "no."

We hope this article was helpful to you! If so, why not check out our blog?  It contains a great deal of useful parenting advice and tips.

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