Suppose I told you there was something that could help your baby develop a stronger bond with you; a heightened capacity for learning; a natural sense of order and discipline; a calmer disposition; more dependable rhythms of sleeping, eating, and playing; and an increased enjoyment of life. Well, there is, and I'd just love to sell it to you for a few thousand dollars -- except, unfortunately for me, this wonder item happens to be free, unlimited, and instantly accessible to every parent. I'm talking about something that has almost disappeared from modern life: the power of ritual.
Many people think of ritual only as religious ceremony or perhaps the repetitive compulsions of folks who aren't quite all there. It's a shame that it gets such a bad rap because the reality is that it's an important part of every person's life. This is especially true of young ones whose lives are just beginning. My mother, who had eight children, once told me, "My babies always seemed most pleased with their lives when I was most bored with mine." This was her wry way of saying that babies thrive on predictability and consistency rather than on novelty and adventure. This isn't surprising when you consider that they are confronted with a constant blizzard of unprecedented experiences -- not an easy situation, even for an adult. In the midst of all this confusion, positive rituals can become a powerful stabilizing, comforting, and bonding force for your baby -- and for you.