Child development experts divide a child’s day into two broad categories—routines and experiences.
What are routines?
Warm, responsive, daily routines are important parts of your child’s day. The one-on-one time you spend guiding your child through hellos and goodbyes, diapering and toileting, feeding, dressing, and falling asleep helps build relationships, creates trust, and develops social skills.
It’s easy to enrich such daily routines as feeding and diapering. For example…
- When diapering your 5-month-old, you might hold out a soft, lightweight toy and give baby time to reach for it. Describe baby’s actions. “You’re reaching for the toy. Now you’ve got it!”
- When diapering your 22-month-old, you could point out things around the room that start with the same letter sound. “I see a /b/ /b/ ball and a basket and a broom and a book and a big bear.”
- When feeding your 4-month old, you might tell baby a story that includes his or her name. “Once upon a time there was a [boy] named [Name]. [He] loved to play with [his favorite toy].”
- When feeding your 2-year-old, you could introduce an eating pattern with two food items. “Let’s eat one apple slice and then one bite of chicken. One apple slice, one bite of chicken.”
What are experiences?
Young ones learn through experiences during play and routines, and by observing the world around them. During these experiences, they begin to make meaning from sights, sounds, sensations, and most importantly, social interactions. Positive and responsive interactions during play and routines promote healthy development and critical early learning.
Experiences include guided and free play, exploring nature, manipulating toys, seeing and hearing new things, and socializing with other children and grown-ups. This variety of experiential areas helps the child become familiar with the different aspects and environments of the world around them.
During the first three years of life, the experiences a child has and the care he or she receives powerfully influence the way that child views the world, relates to others, and succeeds as a learner. Your role as Chief Experience Officer—nurturer, guide and teacher—starts the day you become a parent. Enjoy!