Why Toddler Daily Routines Are Important
Toddlers are bundles of energy and curiosity, constantly exploring the world around them. While their infinite passion can be endearing, it can also lead to challenges for both kiddos and their caregivers. This is where daily routines come in. Although toddlers seem to create chaos everywhere they go, what they crave is the complete opposite. They thrive in environments where they know what to expect, and adults can provide that structure and consistency through daily schedules, habits, and routines. In this blog, we’ll explore why toddler daily routines are so crucial for their development, and how you can implement them into your life.
With planning, patience, and a little luck, your family will find the balance and routine that’s right for you.
Benefits of a Toddler Routine
While flexibility is essential, having a predictable toddler daily routine can create a positive and nurturing environment for your child. Consistency helps them thrive as they continue to explore and learn about the world around them. Below we’ll dive into specific benefits to help you better understand your kiddo’s wants and needs regarding their daily routine.
Predictability and Security
Knowing what to expect each day gives toddlers a sense of security in an otherwise unpredictable world. When kids feel safe and in-the-know, they are better able to manage their emotions, which reduces anxiety and helps minimize meltdowns.
Toddlers love to push boundaries. However, they’re not being spiteful – they are simply testing theories and trying to understand hierarchy and limits. A daily routine for your toddler with clear rules and expectations can help you avoid challenging behaviors. When toddlers know what is expected of them and when, they are more likely to cooperate and exhibit better behavior.
For example, if they have their heart set on going outside but they know snack time comes first, they will be more likely to oblige and follow directions. This of course comes with time – younger tots won’t be able to rationalize and truly understand an order of operations right away, but it helps to lay the groundwork to get them there faster.
Establishing routines that include healthy habits can set the foundation for a lifetime of well-being. This includes activities like regular tooth brushing, handwashing, and eating balanced meals. When these practices become part of a routine, toddlers are more likely to continue them as they grow older.
Toddlers often struggle with transitions, such as leaving the playground or ending playtime. A daily routine can help ease these transitions by providing a clear schedule. When toddlers know what comes next, they are more likely to transition with fewer tantrums.
Sample Schedules for Your Toddler
Keep in mind there is no one-size-fits-all toddler schedule that will work for everyone. Each family has their own complex dynamic; it’s built around individual personalities, work schedules, parenting styles, hobbies, and other factors. What to Expect advises, “It’s about figuring out a rhythm that meets your family’s needs as a whole while filling all the cups your toddler needs to feel his/her best — regular meals and snacks, adequate sleep and plenty of opportunities to play and spend time with you.”
Below are a couple of guides to help you ponder the best routine for your family.
Toddler Schedule for Weekdays
What to Expect suggests the following schedule for toddlers throughout the week:
- 7 a.m. – Wake up, quiet play
- 7:30 a.m. – Breakfast
- 8 a.m. – Get dressed, brush hair and teeth, play
- 8:30/9 a.m. – Drop off at day care or preschool
- 12 p.m. – Lunch and nap or quiet time
- 3 p.m. – Snack
- 4/5 p.m. – Pick up at day care or preschool
- 4:15/5:15 p.m. – Play
- 5:45/6 p.m. – Dinner time
- 6:45 p.m. – Bath, PJs, brush teeth
- 7:15 p.m. – Bedtime stories
- 7:30/8 p.m. – Lights out for bedtime
Looking for more ideas on how to plan your day? Check out this article from the Pragmatic Parent: Create a Routine: 6 Sample Toddler Schedules from Real Moms. As a bonus, it also includes a sample schedule for parents juggling both a toddler and a baby.
Toddler Schedule for Weekends
Keeping your child on a similar schedule throughout the weekend provides consistency and helps avoid sleep disturbances. If your toddler’s early childhood education center includes naps in the daily schedule, it’s best to align their weekend naps accordingly. This helps your child stay on track with their sleep cycle, making Monday morning drop-off a little smoother.
Wondering about nap time and sleep in general? Check out this article from Taking Cara Babies: Toddler Nap Schedules for 2, 3, and 4-Year-Olds.
For some heartwarming inspiration, watch this adorable clip from the Today Show: Meet the 6-year-old whose morning routine is going viral.
Schedule a Tour at Kiddi Kollege
Establishing structured routines for toddlers helps them feel secure, develops essential skills, and promotes overall well-being for the entire family.
Speaking of schedules, we at Kiddi Kollege would love it if you’d schedule a tour at one of our eight locations in Johnson County, Kansas! We provide early childhood education and child care for infants as young as six weeks all the way through pre-K, and we provide afterschool care, too. Give us a call or contact us online.