From around 12 months your little one will start to push for greater independence, wanting to do things her way. This can lead to power struggles as you try to steer your strong-willed child in teh right direction. That's why a routine is so important to a toddler. It creates a predictable structure to her day - allowing her freedom within established boundaries. Add to this the fact that a routine will also help you be more consistent and make more efficient use of your time, you can see that with a good routine, everyone's a winner!
Did you know?
Several studies have shown that having a daily meal-time routine will enhance your child's willingness to try new food, while a study last year found that toddlers with consistent bedtimes fell asleep faster, slept for longer stretches and woke less often.
As well as reducing toddler meltdowns, a routine will also:
- Give your toddler a sense of security. Your toddler is taking her first tentative steps into the world, and by creating a reassuring, familiar structure around her, she will feel far less afraid, and maybe just that little bit braver!
- Lessen separation anxiety. For example, if your toddler knows that every day she is taken to nursery and picked up at the same time, she'll be far less likely to fret about your departure and whether you'll return.
- Help your toddler to learn. Your toddler learns through repetition, and the familiar phrase 'do it again' is part of this process. By having a routine, your toddler will be doing certain things at certain times, day in day out, so you've naturally created an excellent learning environment.
Getting a routine back on track
There are times when a break in routine is unavoidable, such as when your child's been ill or you're on holiday. Here are a few things to consider when trying to re-establish a routine:
- Don't panic. Calmly re-establish the routine at the next opportunity. So, for example, if your toddler has been poorly and off his food, wait until he's better and his appetite has returned before offering regular sit-down meals. As long as he is getting sufficient liquids, he will be fine.
- Be patient. It might take your child a few days to get back into his routine. For example, going on holiday is bound to throw him off balance as he gets used to his new environment. Equally, it might take a few days to get back on track afterwards. But if you think about it, that's probably no different from you.
- Be consistent. Once you decide it's time to re-establish the routine, don't be swayed. Remind your todder that he was perfectly happy with how things were previously and he'll soon get used to it again.
Babyexpert.com top tip:
It'll help get your morning routine off to a better, less stressful start if you get up half an hour before your toddler. This way you can get yourself ready without any disturbance, then when your toddler does get up, you can give him your undivided attention.