Shaping the Day
Routineness with Baby
'What', I hear you say 'Routineness! You Must be Joking'? As functioning human beings most of us carry out daily life with some structure or routine to it that provides predictability. This knowing of where our 'next step' will be comes a sense of security. Babies also need this within the day that will meet their needs in order for them to thrive and develop a sense of security. Babies quickly learn that the repetition/routineness of daily activities coupled with parents' consistent loving interactions provides them with predictability. It is this 'knowing what comes next' that gives them a sense of security, which enhances their emotional wellbeing.
Yet routineness for you and Baby DOES NOT MEAN that daily life is 'ordinary' or that you are locked in to a strict time schedule. What routineness means is that you and Baby together form a type of rhythm to the day, providing you both with some predictability. This rhythm can be likened to a dance; together you and Baby are partners, each taking steps in creating the flow of the dance. OK, let's pause for a moment as you might be thinking ... there are many different types of dances so which one is it? Let's say this dance is definitely not a quickstep! Instead it needs to resemble the smooth flow of the waltz.
For some babies, their sense of rhythm in the day is well developed within a few weeks after birth: as though it is almost innate, these babies have established their own 'dance steps' to the rhythm that brings contentment with parents partnering them, each having an equal part to play. Other babies need their parents' guidance in creating their dance, which may require parents' adjustment in lifestyle, particularly for those parents who have needed to always be 'dancing the quickstep' and seeking the fast pace in life. Babies thrive on calmness. Their contentment comes from being sensitively cared for in a predictable way.
Note: Research evidence supporting the need for babies to have routineness shows it reduces their crying and assists in settling for sleep. Furthermore, routineness from the earliest weeks continues to have a beneficial effect on babies' happiness and development of competence and independence into the toddler years and beyond.