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Establishing a Routine

When it comes to easing your baby’s transition to your home, consistency is key. By Bonnie Perkel

When she first arrived home, my one-year-old daughter, Kira, was developmentally delayed. As we recovered from jet lag, the routines we established were unexciting by my past standards, but the positive results were undeniable.

Each day, Kira and I rose, had breakfast, and went out for a morning stroll to the park. After a nap and lunch, we’d drive around in the car, where she’d take a second nap. At this point, I made sure I had quiet time, too. Both of us would rise at 4 p.m., have a snack, and go back out. Pretty boring, right? But these days were sacred to us.

No matter the age of your baby—two days or 20 months—the patterns you establish should ease the transition to a new life. These routines provide the framework for trust and bonding, and a daily rhythm creates internal calmness, to help your baby develop physically and emotionally.

Make Eye Contact

Take advantage of every opportunity to bond. Some children are clingy, others withdraw from your touch, so adapt contact accordingly. Find a stroller that allows you and your baby to see each other. Use a carrier that holds her close to your body. At feeding time, establish eye contact. Older infants may be used to feeding themselves and resist the help, but it’s important that children connect parents with nourishment.

If your baby is ready to crawl, all she needs is a soft rug and a safe environment. A physical therapist suggested that I not use “exer-saucers” or “johnny jump ups,” so that Kira could maneuver her body naturally. I lay on my back and put Kira on my chest. By slowly raising my knees so that her feet could push against them, Kira quickly learned to crawl over my shoulder.

Early to Bed

Bedtime also had its rituals. Although Kira was at first frightened by the bath, bathing became a favorite activity. Afterwards, we moved from bottle to snuggles to singing familiar songs.

Concerned that unhappy moments may disrupt bonding, some parents are hesitant to enforce a schedule. The result may be a stressed-out household where an infant sets policy.

Children, especially those who have had turmoil in their young lives, relish routine. Even if takes a while to establish, the routine must be unwavering. Once patterns are established, there’ll be opportunities to vary them. Parents who fail to establish order in their child’s life are doing their child, and themselves, no favors.

Bonnie Perkel lives with her daughter, Kira, in Newton, Massachusetts.

Three Ways to Make Your Child Feel at Home

• Touch is crucial to bonding. After bathing her, massage your baby with body lotion.
• If your child is in day-care, talk about your routines with her caregiver. Home patterns should be applied whenever possible.
• If your baby is anxious about being left alone to sleep, sit within view, and catch up on your reading.

©2003 Adoptive Families. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

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