Dr. Cowan | Routine + Novelty - the framework for healthynest enrichment activities

Key Thought

healthynest is here to inspire you with new ways to expand routine into enriching experiences


So on the one hand, each child that comes into the world is naturally attracted to novelty, because they want to understand the world, and you see it in babies as they start crawling and they're attracted to something new and it draws them across the room. They're attracted to the way the ball rolls, whatever it is, then that novelty is sort of like bait, right?

You're pulling the child out into the environment. So the quality of the environment really matters because if that environment isn't triggering that novelty, it deadens that curiosity. It may not stimulate those neurons in the brain to fire and make new connections that, “Whoa, I'd never thought of it like that before. Peekaboo peekaboo” Right? That kind of thing. So novelty is one pole of parenting, providing enough novelty but not too much.

And on the other side is this kind of sacred routine. It provides a sort of sense of comfort for a child that feels like they can expect what's coming next. Right? And the two together are the framework for engaging. The nervous system explodes with that. It has the root of the routine, the root, and it has this outer shell of engagement and together it's really driving development. And so the quality of the environment will bring that out.

So what is the healthy balance between sacred routine creating routines, day to day routines, a bath, you know, going to sleep at night, breakfast, and novelty, right? Where is that sweet spot that we're looking for? This is what healthynest is trying to promote is a, creating an understanding of how those two yin and yang couple get along, because we know it enriches cognitive development, emotional development, physical development.

One of the first places I see it is in swaddling your baby. When you swaddle your baby, you've got this golden opportunity to connect eye to eye. If you know how far they can see, which turns out in the miracle of a newborn to be about the distance of your arm, they can see 2020 there. They may go a little cross-eyed, but that's okay. You're teaching them how to focus right then in their mini opportunity. The novelty of it is you start making faces, right? And they're like intrigued by it, but the routine is the swaddling, and this is what we do each time I swaddle you I'm going to connect with you and we're going to make faces so we can create change and continuity at the same time.

So at healthynest, what we've developed are every step along this beautiful journey things you can do to enrich the environment of your child, to encourage development not in the right direction, but in your child's direction so that they're feeling empowered.

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