One of the most common questions you will be asked as a new parent is “Do you already have a routine?” This may actually be one of the stupidest questions to ask because it suggests that once children have a structured routine they will stay in that routine. This is not the case. A child’s ability to stick to a set routine changes constantly. The need for sleep during the day decreases, and so parents must constantly juggle new situations. For example should they maintain morning and afternoon nap still or merge then into one nap or even wait and just put them in bed at night.
It is actually not the best idea to have a solid routine, as in the event of it changing suddenly, for example due to illness or a family holiday, the child will become unsettled. They will be expecting fixed sleep and play times and set meal times and will be confused when it doesn’t happen. Sleeping through the night might seem like a permanent routine, but even it can be disrupted or changes over time due to illness, teething, a late family event and so on can all cause changes to the routine. By all means have some kind of loose schedule in place to keep you on track throughout the day. But do not feel that you must be bound by it, there should always be some degree of flexibility. If your routine needs to change it is usually because your child is making progress in his development, so you should be happy that the need arises. Therefore you should be happy with a routine which is established over weeks or even months if it is working for your family. However, nothing stays the same and if you have to alter your routine it can be taken as a sign of a healthy and happy child.