Many specialists recommend establishing “routines” in the daily life of young children. But are they as useful as they are claimed to be? Héloïse Junier, childhood psychologist, lifts the veil on this subject.
Sleep, bath, meal… A baby’s life is naturally rhythmic. However, should we complete these days with rituals to reassure him? “It all depends on his age“, affirms Héloïse Junier, childhood psychologist, doctor of psychology and author of the book “The sleep of young children” (Dunod, 2023).
The more predictable everyday life is, the safer the child feels.
No offense to “relaxed” parents about schedules: clearly established routines reassure the child. They allow him to understand what is going to happen (meals, sleep, etc.) and to order his day.
The sequence of these actions, always in the same order, helps the baby to better control his environment.
For example, at bedtime, the ritual of bathing and/or reading a little story can help the baby calm down.
Thanks to these ritualized actions, the child understands that it is time to go to bed and therefore falls asleep more easily. He knows he can drift off to sleep because he feels safe.
“Scientific work on sleep clearly shows that rituals help children fall asleep and sleep., believes Héloïse Junier. “More precisely, the implementation of bedtime rituals (a story time followed by a cuddle time then a little caress on the forehead before turning off the light for example) tends to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep , to extend the duration of nighttime sleep and to reduce the number of nighttime awakenings. For what ? Because the implementation of rituals makes it possible to make the child’s environment more predictable, more redundant and therefore less a source of unexpected events and therefore of vigilance. And the benefits of these rituals are observed from a very young age and until very late because adults also ritualize their falling asleep!“
And what about the newborn?
The implementation of rituals is less obvious, less essential in newborns, who are only a few days old, believes the psychologist.
“At this age, parents and infants learn above all to discover and know themselves. Daily routines are under construction. In addition, the child’s development and pace can change considerably from one day to the next. All this therefore does not promote the ritualization of these sleep times“, she adds.
So yes to rituals for toddlers after a few months, without putting pressure on yourself. They will settle naturally over time; according to the needs of your children.