When babies learn that certain activities usually follow on from each other and they are able to predict what happens next, this contributes to their sense of security and leads to a surge in their curiosity about the world and urge to explore.

Why is routine important?

People talk about babies needing to have a routine. Why is routine important?

A routine for a baby is more about the order in which things are done than the time on the clock.

Baby will learn through their daily experiences that certain activities usually follow on from each other. For example, baby might be fed, be given nappy-free ‘kick’ time, then get a clean nappy, have a lullaby, give their parents a kiss, and be put to bed.

Routines build trust

Before too long, baby will recognise the routine, be aware of what comes next and cue themselves to get ready for the next step. ‘If baby can anticipate, baby can participate.’

Being able to successfully predict what will happen next contributes to baby’s sense of security and growing sense that baby can mostly trust the world they are in.

Trust builds curiosity

Before long, baby’s sense of trust, together with their developing abilities to see, move and touch, will lead to a surge in baby’s curiosity about the world and an irresistible urge to explore.

Curiosity makes baby explore their world, and develop further, so family routines can contribute to a baby’s emotional wellbeing and overall feeling of self-confidence.

Building a routine in the early days

  • Encourage baby to learn that, when it’s night time, it’s not fun time – when night feeding, keep everything quiet and dark so baby will learn that no-one wants to talk and play when the world is dark.
  • Be aware that going out a lot with a new baby will make it harder to establish a routine. Spending too much time in the pram while visiting people might be fun for mum but could be unsettling for baby.
  • If baby is being bottle fed, try to make the feeding as much like breast feeding as possible, because feeding is about more than just nutrition.
    • Always hold baby to feed so you can see each other’s faces. Baby particularly likes to gaze at their parents' faces.
    • Remember that leaving a baby to drink from a propped up bottle can also have negative health effects, causing earache and more long-lasting hearing problems.