What It Takes To Establish Toddler Routines

If you have a toddler, you should have  well-planned toddler routines in place. Toddlers thrive on consistency, predictability, and repetition, and there’s no better way to give them that then through a routine. 




Why Use a Routine With Your Toddler?

Keeping to a routine with your toddler is beneficial in many different ways.  Knowing what to expect when builds your toddler’s self-confidence and decreases his stress levels. It helps him to be mentally prepared and ready for each part of the day as it enfolds.


Keeping toddler routines also helps you to provide the care your child needs, consistently. When you are using  toddler schedule you don’t need to remind yourself of your child’s needs or try to figure out how to fit everything in a day; it all goes smoothly, and you remember to read the little guy his story just as automatically as you remember to brush your own teeth.


What to Include in Your Toddler’s Daily Routine

Every family is different, and your toddler plans need to be specially designed by you to meet your needs, your child’s needs, and the family’s needs. That said, there are some things which should be included in every good toddler routine:


• Cuddle times

• Getting dressed/undressed

• Mealtimes

• Snacktimes

• Storytimes

• Playing Independently

• Playing with Mommy and/or Daddy

• Getting washed up/bathtime

• Outdoor time


These are all important features of a healthy toddler’s day. If they are part of a routine, and happen the same or approximately same time every day, your toddler gets to look forward to and be mentally and physically ready for each activity in his day.


Sample Toddler Routines

Below we’ve created two sample routines for sixteen month old toddlers; the first, for a family where mom stays at home; the second, for a family where both parents work and the toddler in in daycare from 9-5. Remember that these schedules are not meant to be used as is in your home; they are only an example of what a child’s routine could look like. If you do decide to base your toddler’s schedule off one of them, feel free to make any number of adjustments to make the routine fit your home.


Stay-At-Home Routine

• 7:00 wake up time: wake up and climb into mommy & daddy’s bed (Note: If you don’t go to work, your toddler doesn’t have to be woken up in the morning; place the wake up time in your toddler schedule at the time your child usually wakes up. If his bedtime is regular, his natural wake up time will be regular too.)

• 7:00-7:30 cuddle time with mommy & daddy in the big bed; talking, playing ‘this little piggy’, enjoying being together

• 7:30 up & dress

• 7:45-8:00 toddler plays independently while mommy gets breakfast

• 8:00-8:30 breakfast time

• 8:30-9:30 toddler plays independently while mommy clears away the table, takes care of the dishes, and does her morning emailing

• 9:30-10:00 playing with mommy; reading books first and then making towers together or playing with toy cars

• 10:00-10:45 playing out in the yard

• 10:45 morning snack

• 11:00-1:00 naptime

• 1:00 lunch

• 1:30-2:00 coloring or playdough time

• 2:00-3:00 more outside playtime, extended to four o’clock on really nice days

• 3:00- 3:15 afternoon snack

• 3:15-5:30 playtime; the first half independent, the second half with mommy

• 5:30 suppertime

• 6:00-6:40 bathtime, toothbrushing & getting in pajamas

• 6:40-7:00 storytime sitting on the bed

• 7:00 sleeping time


Day Care Routine

• 7:00 wake up time: wake up and climb into mommy & daddy’s bed 

• 7:00-7:30 cuddle time with mommy & daddy in the big bed; talking, playing ‘this little piggy’, enjoying being together

• 7:30 up & dress

• 7:45-8:00 toddler plays independently while mommy gets breakfast

• 8:00-8:30 breakfast time

• 8:30-9:00 get ready to go out; drive to daycare

• 9:00-5:00 daycare

• 5:15 get home from daycare; eat small snack

• 5:15-6:00 playtime, with mommy and daddy if possible, or otherwise independent

• 6:00 suppertime

• 6:30-7:00 bathtime, toothbrushing & getting in pajamas

• 7:00-7:15 storytime

• 7:15 bedtime



Have fun making your own toddler routines, and make sure they emphasize what you feel is most important!






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