The toddler stage is so much fun because it’s the time when kids are becoming more aware of themselves in the world, as well as more aware of other people and experiences. It’s also a time of exploring, trying new things, and exercising new-found independence. With so many stimuli impacting your toddler’s senses every day, however, it can also be a time of easy overwhelm, big emotions, and tantrums. Implementing a simple toddler schedule will help your little one feel more at ease and in control.
Having a consistent schedule will mitigate stress and keep your days going smoothly. Many kids, especially at this age, thrive on the predictability and security a schedule provides. It’s common for parents to get frustrated when they can’t seem to keep their child on an “ideal” schedule. Try to come up with a realistic version that sets your youngster up for success.
While all kids are different and no single schedule will work for every child, below we’ll discuss a simple and easy toddler schedule. You can use it exactly as it’s written, or for inspiration, as you create a schedule personalized for your child.
Sample Toddler Schedule
- 7:00 am: Wakeup and Screen Time
- 8:00 am: Breakfast
- 8:30 am: Playtime (Check out our 52 activities for Toddlers)
- 10:00 am: Snack
- 10:30 am: Outing
- Noon: Lunch
- 1:00 pm: Quiet Time
- 1:30 pm: Nap Time
- 3:30 pm: Outdoor Time/Activity Time
- 5:30 pm: Dinner
- 6:30 pm: Playtime (Want Indoor & Educational Playtime Activites for Toddlers, check out our 25 favorites)
- 7:30 pm: Bath
- 8:00 pm: Bedtime (If bedtime is tough (it was for us), here is our post on 5 tips for dealing with a toddler who won’t stay in bed!
Digging into the Details
This is a very simple toddler schedule on its face, but there are a few hacks that can keep it effective each day.
7:00 am: Wakeup and Screen Time
For parents with early risers, 7:00 am wakeup might seem like a pipe dream. However, there are a few methods you can use to help your child learn to stay in bed until 7:00. Even if they are quietly playing instead of sleeping, that’s a little extra time for you.
You can use a color-coded toddler alarm clock that will train your child to wait for either the alarm to sound or for the clock to change to green, which means it’s okay to get out of bed. Check out our full list of alarm clocks for kids here!
It may seem odd to make screen time the beginning of your daily routine, but many parents find that it helps keep children occupied while they make breakfast or otherwise get ready for the day. In addition, if you get the screen time out of the way first thing, you can avoid an entire day of your child begging for the television or the tablet.
8:00 am: Breakfast
Resist the urge to feed your toddler in front of the television, even if you know it would give you more uninterrupted time to get things done. Make it a habit to sit at the table and eat together, which gives more opportunities to practice table manners. This also means you as the parent will get a moment to sit and enjoy breakfast or your favorite cup of coffee or tea. Getting to actually eat breakfast might just become your favorite part of this toddler schedule!
8:30 am: Playtime
There’s nothing wrong with playing alongside your toddler. However, it’s also important for them to begin learning how to entertain themselves. Shoot for a mix of parental play and independent play, and keep things fresh by keeping toys on rotation. Store them in plastic tubs in the basement or garage and rotate them out each week so that your toddler feels like they’re getting something new to occupy their growing mind.
10:00 am: Snack
It can be difficult to get a picky toddler to eat healthy snacks, but filling them up with wholesome foods will typically improve their mood. Make it easier on yourself by prepping snacks ahead of time that your child can access on his own.
10:30 am: Outing
It is super important that you schedule an activity that gives you and your toddler a change of scenery daily. It’s just nice for both of you to be able to leave the house! You can get in the car for a quick trip to the grocery store, post office, library, or local park, or simply head outside for a walk in the neighborhood when the weather allows.
Many toddlers like to be involved in food preparation, so incorporate them when you can. In addition to eating at about the same time each day, use each lunchtime as an opportunity to sit at the table together and to practice self-feeding skills and manners.
If your toddler is on the younger side, try to provide a portion of food each day that requires the use of silverware. This is great for fine motor skill development! If your toddler is older, reinforce lessons like saying please and thank you, asking to be excused from the table, and clearing their own plate.
1:00 pm: Quiet Time
Quiet time is a very important part of your toddler’s schedule. It isn’t easy to get a toddler to slow down, but it can be helpful to get them settled a bit before nap. Coloring, reading or quietly playing are all common ways to lead into naptime.
1:30 pm: Naptime
If there’s anything you consistently stick to in your schedule, let it be naptime. Your toddler’s body will be conditioned to fall asleep at the same time each day, which will provide you with reliable toddler-free time every afternoon to accomplish things around the house or get some much-needed self-care time.
3:30 pm: Outdoor Time/Activity Time
If the weather allows for it, post-nap is a great time to get outside for more fresh air. It’s also a great time to provide your toddler with a planned activity, either inside or outside. It could be water play, painting, a nature walk. The possibilities are endless, and you can change them every day depending on your child’s interests.
5:30 pm: Dinner
When possible, repeat your lunch-time process. Allow your child to help with food prep, as well as continuing to practice table skills and manners.
6:30 pm: Playtime
Allow your child more independent playtime after dinner. Remember, toddlers do some of their best learning during unstructured playtime.
7:30 pm: Bath
Child sleep experts recommend scheduling out a bedtime routine, including a calming bath, to encourage your toddler to fall asleep more easily. With a toddler’s growing mind racing with all she learns each day, this can be a helpful step in getting both brain and body prepped for sleep. If your toddler fights bath time, try adding in activities like bathtub crayons to make things more interesting.
8:00 pm: Bedtime
There’s nothing more difficult than an over-tired toddler, so sticking to a consistent bedtime keeps both parent and child happier. Add your own routine, which could include reading stories or singing favorite songs, so that bedtime feels like a fun and special time for parent-child bonding.
When you’re just beginning to use a daily schedule for your toddler, there will undoubtedly be growing pains. Don’t worry if you can’t stick to it consistently in the first few weeks, but don’t give up! Toddlers thrive on consistency and security and many adults find they actually do, too.
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