How to Establish a Schedule/Routine for Toddlers?

How to Make a Routine that Your Toddler Will Love to Follow

Children go through a lot of changes in their growing years. Their motor skills, language skills, sensory perception, all develop simultaneously, which can be a lot for them to deal with. But a bit of consistency in their lives can give them a feeling of warmth and security. If your little toddler is also struggling to deal with these changes in his life, you must set a routine for him. Here we discuss what you as a parent can do to create a routine for your child and help him adhere to that schedule.

What Does it Mean to Set a Schedule for a Toddler?

Setting a routine for a toddler simply means setting a daily routine for a toddler, i.e. maintaining fixed timings for food, snacks, play, bath, and even nap. It is important to set a routine for toddlers because of their love for predictability. Kids love it when they know what is going to happen next as it makes them comfortable and feel secure. If your little tot knows that a tasty treat is around the corner, or that bath time is approaching, he will feel safe and secure, and it will also keep his emotional meltdowns in check.

Why Do You Need a Routine for Your Toddler?

Mentioned below are the reasons why you need to set a routine for your toddler. There are many benefits of a routine for a toddler. Find out how setting a routine helps a kid.

1. To Develop Prefrontal Cortex

When a toddler knows and is preparing himself for what is to come next can assist in the development of his prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain which is responsible for planning and execution. This can help your little kid later in life when he grows up and takes responsibilities.

2. To Build Confidence

When a toddler can identify what is coming up in the day, it makes him feel comfortable and safe. It is soothing to know that after a warm glass of milk, he will get to nap, or after breakfast, he will get to hear the story of Little Krishna again! It improves his confidence level. Your little one will know what is expected of him next and as he grows he will start doing those things on his own without your help.

3. To Reduce Showdowns during Bedtime

A toddler who has a consistent bedtime routine tends to fall asleep faster and stays asleep for longer. This is because the child knows that a certain sequence of events indicate bedtime and therefore he begins to wind down naturally when a certain set of activities start. A toddler’s routine for example at night starts with drinking a glass of milk, followed by brushing his teeth, and changing into pyjamas – all these activities would make your kid understand that its time for bed and he won’t throw tantrums for the same.

A mother reading to her child before making him sleep

4. To Have a Better Control on Your Life

Setting a routine for your child will help you have a better control over your day and your life because you will know when you will get the much-needed break.

5. To Help a Baby Deal with Changes

If things go haywire, then it becomes easier where there is an established routine. It allows the child the security of understanding that a change is one off and that things are going to settle back into place. For example, if the family is on vacation, or some guests are staying over at home, the child will know that things will return to normal soon.

When Can You Start with a Schedule for Your Baby?

Toddlers are invariably ready to settle into a pattern from the age of 2-4 months. By this age, they have already started following a certain routine of sleeping, eating, pooping, and playing. By being observant, parents can create a toddler schedule at home around existing patterns.  Setting a routine for your kid from an early age is suggested because habits developed early last a lifetime.

How to Establish a Schedule for Toddlers

To create a schedule, make a rough structure of your child’s day. Be sure to leave ample room for the unexpected. Flexibility is the key to a good toddler routine. Keep the following things in mind as they are a must in any routine:

1. Waking Time of Your Toddler

Make sure that your little one wakes up at the same time every day. Babies tend to wake up at almost the same time every day. Create your schedule around that pattern. Also, give him some time to wake up properly. Let him play in his crib or play some soft music so that he can listen to after being awake. Let him be in his crib for 10 minutes or so and then start with other chores.

2. Do Not Skip Breakfast

Never skip breakfast. Start with a healthy meal after your child has brushed his teeth. Have breakfast as a family so that bonding increases and your child learns to interact. Creating a toddler eating routine is of paramount significance as it has everything to do with your child’s growth and development.

3. Include Time for Play and Activities

Playtime fits in best after breakfast. You can either play with him at home or take him for a stroll in the park. Both these activities will strengthen your bond. Play and activities are suitable for a time when your toddler is well fed and rested.

Kids playing with their mom

4. Pay Attention to Meal Times

Make sure to schedule lunch early so that your toddler can take a nap. Teach him to wash his hands before meals and gargling or brushing his teeth after meals. This will give your baby a sense of what to expect next. Through these daily activities, your baby will also learn about hygiene and safety.

5. Schedule a Nap Time

Toddlers require an average of 12-14 hours of sleep. An afternoon nap keeps baby well rested. So, make sure your baby takes a nap after having lunch. You can also increase or decrease the number of naps based on your child’s requirements.

6. Have a Single Bedtime Routine

Make your child follow a bedtime routine religiously. Make sure that all the activities of the night routine are executed in the same order so that your child is not thrown off track or confused about what to expect.

7. Bring in Any Change Gradually

Handle change in a way that your child doesn’t have an emotional tantrum. For any reason, if you need to make changes to a set routine, bring in the change gradually. If you wish to make changes to the snack routine as well as bath time, make one change, let baby adjust to it and then make the next change. This helps baby remain in a comfort zone and helps him feel secure.

Toddler’s Sample Schedule Chart

Here is a toddler routine example provided in a table form:

Wake up Time 7:00 AM
Time to Brush Teeth 7:20 AM
Use the Bathroom 7:45 AM
Breakfast Time 8:20 AM
Playtime 9:00- 11:30 AM
Lunch 12 Noon
Nap 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Evening Snacks 3:30 PM
Playtime 4:00-6:30 PM
Dinner 6:40 PM
Warm milk 7:30
Storytime 7:40 PM
Bedtime 8:00 PM

With inputs from –

Creating a routine for your child and making sure that your kid follows it isn’t a big challenge. What is important is that you, as a parent, take baby steps with your toddler when teaching him something new and be flexible when necessary. Eventually, the routine will begin to feel right for you and your little one.

Also Read: Effective Ways for Disciplining a Toddler

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