Why Routine is the Foundation for Brain-Building Connection with Baby

 What you need to know: 
  • Because the developing brain craves repetition and predictability, your day-to-day routine is the best framework for engaging in brain-building connected moments
  • Routine moments are the time that baby’s nervous system is most calm and they are open to novel experiences


As parents, ‘routine’ often feels like a mirage, always just beyond our reach. From the moment baby is born, our routines are really baby’s routines. For the first few months, we navigate the demands of feeding schedules, sleeping schedules, and diaper changes, lucky to find an opportunity to sleep for ourselves. And just when it feels like we’ve gotten the hang of things, the ‘routine’ changes all over again.

So while it may feel like we never truly settle into a routine, our natural day-to-day habits create routines that might go unnoticed to us…but not to baby. Adults are creatures of habit and we are wired to find efficient ways through our day, using the accumulation of experience to help us. Think about it - imagine needing to relearn all the activities required to get up and out the door in the morning - we’d never make it! But your baby hasn’t yet built these patterns, so the moments of our everyday life we might be inclined to rush through actually provide an incredibly important foundation for baby’s development. Learning to notice and elevate these moments into brain building opportunities for baby is what Healthybaby is all about.

With a bit of neuroscience and inspiration to help us, we can learn to elevate our routines!

The Science Behind Routines

Babies’ early development is defined in large part by the rhythms and routines of their early environments and their relationships with caregivers. While you as a caregiver are acclimating to your baby’s biological routines, baby’s brain is hard at work absorbing the routines of your presence and care, forming 1 million or more neural connections per second in the process. The brain’s ability to be neuroplastic, wiring and rewiring based on different contexts, means that brains are literally built on the quality of their environments and the quality of their connection with their caregiver/caregivers.

The more that experiences are repeated for baby, the stronger those neural connections become and serve as a foundation that allows them to pursue higher physical and cognitive function in the years to come. In this way, routines provide the ‘scaffolding’ (think a pattern or structure) within which development can be shaped and supported by our choices as caregivers.

This process has a lot to do with baby’s budding ability for emotional regulation. An important process of baby’s early brain development is establishing a secure sense of self and learning to manage stress without being thrown into a state of chaos. These patterns are learned through attentive care and secure attachment to a caregiver.

In summary, routines are a known pattern of predictability and safety throughout baby’s day allowing them to be most receptive to new stimuli. And as it turns out, the most routine parts of our day with baby tend to be diaper changes, feeding/meal time, bath time, bed time, which is why we’ve paired our suite of essentials with developmental content and inspiration for activities to elevate every routine.


We’re here to help you make the most of this incredible window of opportunity for your baby’s brain development, which is why we’ve developed Our Wow and How Series. This series is a monthly system of essentials and content designed to help you make the most of this brain-development-rich time through authentic connection, curiosity, and confidence.

Learn More Here


Elevate Your Diaper Changes

Diaper changes are the perfect opportunity for fun & enriching connection with baby that promotes language development, emotional regulation, focus, and so much more. Try this: 

Start with Eye Contact

Connection begins with baby’s favorite activity, looking at you! 

Take it Slow

Modeling calm and patience will help ground baby in this moment of connection. 

Narrate Your Change

In your best ‘parentese’ voice share out lead each step you take during the change: 

  • “Now we’re going to wipe you off!” 
  • “And then we’re going to let you air dry for a bit” 
  • “And now we’re going to apply some cream”
  • “Time for a soft new diaper!” 

Integrate Activities

Dry and secure in a fresh new diaper, this is the perfect time to integrate a new activity that’s appropriate for your baby’s developmental stage. Here are a few ideas: 


  1. Mindell JA, Williamson AA. Benefits of a bedtime routine in young children: Sleep, development, and beyond. Sleep Med Rev. 2018;40:93-108. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2017.10.007
  2. McNamara P, Humphry R. Developing everyday routines. Phys Occup Ther Pediatr. 2008;28(2):141-154. doi:10.1080/01942630802031826
  3. Mindell JA, Williamson AA. Benefits of a bedtime routine in young children: Sleep, development, and beyond. Sleep Med Rev. 2018;40:93-108. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2017.10.007
  4. Çetinçelik M, Rowland CF, Snijders TM. Do the Eyes Have It? A Systematic Review on the Role of Eye Gaze in Infant Language Development. Front Psychol. 2021;11:589096. Published 2021 Jan 8. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.589096
  5. Gold CM. The Developmental Science of Early Childhood: Clinical Applications of Infant Mental Health Concepts from Infancy through Adolescence. New York: W. W Norton & Company; 2017.