Doing the same thing every day may be boring to grown-ups, but for toddlers predictable routines lower stress, increase confidence and even make them feel smarter.

Routines give little children a sense of security, a feeling of being smart and a sense of time. And they’re important for toddlers at every stage!

Early Toddlers (12-24 months)

By his 1st birthday, your child will recognize the patterns of the day (a diaper when he wakes up, lunch when he sees you take out his special plate, a little massage before bed). Your consistency builds his sense of security, and that gives him the courage to go off and explore the world.

Middle Toddlers (24-36 months)

Middle toddlers hate unexpected changes because they work so hard to figure things out (“C’mon! I just finally got it…Don’t go changing it on me!”). That’s why routines are such a huge bonus at this age. They fill your 2-year-old’s need for things to “follow the rules” and be “just so.”

Mina, 2 1/2, wore a princess outfit complete with wings, crown and ballet slippers to playgroup…everyday.

Thirty-month-old Arnie loved his fireman hat so much that he insisted on wearing it to sleep for almost a year!

So, don’t be surprised when your little kid rigidly demands the same food, same shirt or same song everyday; explodes if the peas touch the carrots or a guest sits in Daddy’s chair; and insists you start over—from page 1—if you’re interrupted in the middle of reading her Good Night, Moon!

Older Toddlers (36-48 months)

It’s common for 3-year-olds to suddenly notice they’re weaker than almost everybody else. (That’s why they love to point out that they are faster and stronger than babies!) Realizing that they are vulnerable can trigger new fears and worries. Routines help these kids feel safe and secure.

Despite their worries, older toddlers no longer demand rigid sameness. In fact, they love it when we throw silly variations into their routines (adding a crazy verse to a favorite song, making up new words as you read a beloved bedtime story, having a “picnic” lunch on a blanket in the living room).

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