“Good Morning my sunshine.” A baby wakes up… and everybody wakes up, although some folks get to go back to sleep. A stumbling parent fights the urge to stop at the bathroom in order to reach the baby as soon as possible, opens the door, and greets the baby with smiles and a cheerful voice, sometimes heart felt, sometimes tongue in cheek, and sometimes flat out acting. A baby doesn’t have the capability of understanding the difference… yet. He just knows that your face, your presence is the first thing that helps him be aware he is not alone in the world, and this very special person will be his partner for the morning. Now what kind of morning will it be?
A good morning routine with your baby can become a treasure that you both look forward to every day. The beginning of the year is a great time to evaluate how your mornings play out, and what could be changed or added to increase the chance that you will be connecting with your loved ones, and starting your days off right.
How do you greet your baby upon waking in the morning? Rate from 1 – 5:
- 1 = groans and shushing (tempting sometimes, of course) while attending to the baby’s needs
- 2 = pick the baby up without any eye contact or saying anything
- 3 = stand looking at the fuzzy image in front of you, wondering what it is and what to do with it… (then respond well when your brain catches on)
- 4 = perhaps some talking or eye contact without focusing on getting her attention
- 5 = a cheerful special greeting with loving eye contact that helps you and your baby connect immediately.
Thoughts to consider:
Regardless of when your child wakes up as a true start to the day, whether they are crying, screaming, or babbling pleasantly, they NEED to see your happy cheerful face and hear your happy cheerful voice letting them KNOW, for sure, that they are connected to someone who loves them… no matter what. That reassurance will help calm their fears, and be confident that their needs will be met. With this confidence, it will be easier to soothe them, and allow their brain to have more energy and time to develop in other ways.
Side Note:… Night time wake up greetings are a bit more calm, reassuring them you are there for them, but there is every expectation to go back to sleep. With that in mind, when they get their special morning greeting, they begin to anticipate the morning routine that will follow. All this is true for both babies who sleep with their parent, in the parent’s room, or in a separate room. If you are concerned about your baby waking up too frequently at night, you may find some help in the Baby Sleep Advice article where I found the adorable curious baby picture above.
Create a Morning Greeting Ritual:
Decide upon a specific cheerful way to greet your child every day. It can be as simple, or as unique as you want to make it. If you are already doing this, why not try something new, or add a bit extra to your usual greeting to really reach your child in a new way.
“Good Morning, my Sunshine!” is how I greeted my son every morning as a baby. He is 20 years old now, and it is still a habit/tradition for me to greet him this way, even if he gets up after noon. This greeting actually evolved into a song that I sang to him in the morning, and at special times when he needed to be cheered up.
Does your baby know what to expect in their morning routine? Rate from 1 – 5:
- 1 = Our morning schedule is chaotic and different every morning. As a parent, I’m not sure what we’ll be doing next. It’s exhausting and frustrating.
- 2 = Lions and Tigers and Bears… oh my !
- 3 = We kind of play it by ear, doing whatever comes up next. Sometimes it is difficult to get my baby to cooperate for some of the needed activities.
- 4 = We generally have an order to the morning activities, but it varies, and is just basically taking care of the baby’s needs.
- 5 = Yes, there are sequences of order that helps my baby be familiar with and enjoy each activity, and is sometimes excited about what will come next.
Thoughts to consider:
Our brains, and especially the brains of babies, search for patterns in everything. The brain seeks to make connections, such as “This belongs to This”, or “When we get done with This, then we do That”. This starts the minute they are born (and it may be happening before birth).
When a set of things regularly happen in a predictable pattern, it reduces confusion. As you well know, confusion takes a lot of mental energy. When the brain generally knows what to expect (even with a few variations), that energy can be used more wisely (rather than fixating on and fighting what is happening at the moment). When babies begin to anticipate something enjoyable will happen next, they are far more likely to be calm and cooperate throughout the morning routine.
Create a Morning Routine full of happy connections:
A color coded calendar with a full blown military type schedule: wake at 0600, eat at 0615… is NOT a real world scenario with a baby. It just helps to have some connections they can expect. Waking up is followed by a cheerful greeting, hugs and kisses. Diaper changes are accompanied by a favorite song, and followed by a little dance around the room. Mommy reads out loud, tells stories, or sings while nursing or bottle feeding, then it is time to look at picture books. There may be a special bonding hand kissing routine that occurs just before a parent leaves for work.
A sequence of events, with a logical order, filled with both NEEDED tasks, and DESIRED bonding activities, allows the brain to attach happy emotions to the whole list, potentially increasing their anticipation and cooperation throughout. This sequence can be initiated whenever it fits into the schedule, but should generally stay in the same order once started. Describe what is happening at the moment, as well as the next step or two in the sequence, and that will help them build their language skills as well as see beyond the moment.
A Top to Toe Toiletries Sequence may include several of the following:
- Comb hair, wiggle nose, kiss on the cheek
- play peek-a-boo with the toothbrush, brush teeth, make the toothbrush dance, SMILE !
- scratch back, diaper change, and dance to a favorite song.
A Dressing Sequence may include:
- Looking outside and talking about what the weather is like, and the type of clothes to wear
- talking about what you will be doing (at home, or out and about), and the type of clothes to wear…
- Putting on clothes in a certain order:
- put on a shirt, blow “farts” on the belly,
- put on bottoms, move the little toes with the Little Piggy rhyme,
- put on socks, have the socks sing and talk to each other,
- put on shoes and MARCH (in the air or on the floor) while singing band music
Even little babies will benefit from at least a few of the extra loving rituals, and will come to be comfortable with that repetitive order. Older babies will start wanting to put on the clothes themselves, Perfect ! Keep the same order, just start providing 2 choices for each item of clothing. And if they love their loving rituals, they will continue to expect them when done.
Stable routines and setting up for successful transitions are incredibly important as babies get older, and can help the child mentally prepare for the next sequence of events. But we can talk about that another time.
This article was inspired by the current Kindermusik units we are enjoying in Lakeland, Florida:
- “Music Makes My Day” with the little babies under 1 year old, and
- “Hello, Day” with babies from 1 to 2 years old.
Together, we are learning fun songs to accompany our NEEDED tasks, as well as adding DESIRED loving rituals to enhance our daily routines to make each day special and connect more fully with our young children.
What is your special greeting with your baby in the morning? Please share to help give others ideas.
What kinds of morning activities have you connected in patterns that your baby has come to anticipate and love?