How to Establish a Toddler's Routine

By Kay Ireland
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Your toddler is a whirlwind of activity, curiosity and energy -- which is precisely why an established daily routine can work in your favor. Knowing when he will consistently eat, sleep and play helps your little one feel safe and secure. And having a routline for your toddler helps you maintain your sanity by providing you with a predictable schedule you can plan around.

Step 1

Establish sleep and meal times first, which are the most important part of your toddler's day. Defining when your toddler usually wakes up, eats meals and snacks, takes a nap and goes to bed helps you create a foundation for the rest of your routine and ensures your toddler gets the rest and nutrition he needs.

Step 2

Add active playtime into your routine. Your toddler needs time each day for both active play – outside or indoor physical activity – along with creative play and even independent play. Scheduling even just a few minutes to get down on the floor and play with your toddler can help you bond while giving your toddler the attention he needs.

Step 3

Plan a restful bedtime routine, suggests "What to Expect the Toddler Years." Your toddler may have a hard time settling at night, so transition at least a half hour before bedtime by scheduling time for songs, picture books, a warm bath or a snack to help ready your little one for bed.

Step 4

Create a poster with each of your daily routine activities, suggests Dr. Laura Markham of the Aha! Parenting website. Since toddlers can't read, place pictures of each activity next to the time slot to let your little one know what to expect sequentially throughout the day. This also helps you keep on track. If your little one can see that a nap follows lunch time, he won't be caught by surprise and may be less resistant.

Step 5

Test your toddler routine by following it for a couple of weeks. You may find that after a couple of days, you realize you were too ambitious about craft time or need to schedule in more time for snacks. A toddler routine should be a general outline of the day, allowing wiggle room for mood changes, appointments or some extra attention, if necessary. Adjust your routine to fit your toddler's personality, wants and needs.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.