I was so naive. My daughter Charlotte was fairly laid-back as an infant, so I expected our first trip away from home to be an easy one. A few days and a couple of missed naps later, however, Charlotte had transformed from my sweet angel into an inconsolable mess, and so had I. As my husband took his turn pacing the floor with Charlotte, my grandmother put her arm around me. "She'll be fine," she assured me. "She just misses her routine!"
Grandma was right. Once we walked through the door of our own apartment the next day, Charlotte became her sweet self once again. If there was one thing I learned from the whole exhausting adventure, it was this: Babies like a predictable world, and for good reason. For young children, every day is packed with learning and excitement, and routines provide relief from the chaos.
"Think about it this way," says Harvey Karp, MD, creator of the DVD and book, The Happiest Baby on the Block. "If you spend your entire work day mastering new tasks, you appreciate your regular coffee breaks."
Routines also help insulate your child from big, unexpected changes, says Dr. Karp. Sticking to a familiar pattern soothes kids in stressful situations, whether it's a new sibling or a parent's business trip. But that's just the beginning. Read on to find out how basic rituals help your baby transform into a confident child.