It can be so easy to completely skip the morning routine, because the moment we wake up everything is usually “go, go go!” But, it’s important to know that how you wake up for the day is just as important as how you go to sleep! Having a consistent morning routine in place, can really help your child get off to the best start.
There are several benefits to having routines as they are meant to help your child transition into what’s next, and make positive associations along the way.
The naptime and bedtime routines help your child transition into sleep periods, while the morning routine helps your child transition from night sleep into the new day.
Each one is equally important!
The mornings can sometimes feel like “rush hour” and it can be pretty easy to want to rush your child out of the door so they can get to school or daycare and you’re able to get to work, but it’s important to allow time for your child to have a gradual, slower start to the day. This is especially important to avoid having early morning meltdowns.
Here are 5 steps to include in your child’s morning routine:
1 – Gently wake your child up for the day
If your child is still sleeping when it’s time to get the day started, slowly wake them up! Even if your child wakes up on their own, you’d still want to start things slow. When you go into your child’s room, turn the sound machine off, slightly open the blinds, turn on dim lighting, and speak in a quieter tone to get the day started.
Try to avoid coming in and turning on bright lights, and potentially startling the child awake. As adults, most of us prefer a slower start to the day as well, so try to get a headstart on the day where you can avoid “the rush” and give your child time to process what’s happening.
2 – Get your child dressed and ready for the day (or if they are older, allow them to dress themselves)
Once your child is awake for the day and you’ve had the chance to connect with him/her, start getting helping your child get dressed for the day. For babies and young toddlers, transition the child out of the swaddle/sleep sack and into a clean diaper and the clothes the child will be wearing for the day.
For older toddlers/preschoolers, allow time in the morning for them to be able to “help” with the process. Toddlers and preschoolers aim for independence, and sometimes choosing clothes the night before can lead to a different decision in the morning. My recommendation is to choose two outfits the night before, and then in the morning allow the child to make a final decision, otherwise you might find yourself in one of those “battles not worth fighting over.”
3 – Help your child brush their teeth
Hygiene is very important even from the very beginning, so including this step is super important in your child’s morning routine. When babies do not have teeth, it’s still very important to clean their mouths with a damp washcloth in the morning and throughout the day after feedings to avoid oral thrush. Of course you can move towards brushing teeth once your baby’s teeth starts to come in and continue on as your child grows with brushing teeth at least two times per day.
4 – Sing a song, or have a few minutes for play
Once your child is dressed and ready to go, sing a song to help get the day started or allow the child a few minutes to play in their room. This can actually help your child create a positive association with their nursery which can be extremely helpful!
5 – Feeding/Breakfast time.
Depending on your child’s age, you can offer the first feeding of the day. If your baby is on solid foods or if you have a toddler/preschooler that is eating regular breakfast you can get started with that, and then continue on with the rest of the day!
Morning routines don’t have to be overcomplicated at all and should be fairly simple.
The goal is to keep things simple, steady and consistent so that there is a smoother transition into the day, and minimize changing the steps of the routine each morning. Aim to have the steps be the same so that your child can learn to know what’s coming next.
Children truly THRIVE on routines and consistency!