I recently joined the 3 kid club and the forever boy mom club. The shop is now closed after I had my third boy 6 months ago. 🙂 My husband and I always planned on 2-3 and joke that a 4th would drive us out of Chicago where we love. So now that my 3rd boy Rhys is growing up, I’ve been revisiting a lot of my baby and toddler schedule posts. I decided it’s time to give you all an update on different variations to daily toddler schedule ideas. Included are options for multiple kids!
These next two pictures of my then 2 year old Ellis happened within minutes of each other. Perfectly captures toddler life, emotions can change very quickly! Some standard routines help them make sense of the world a little bit better.
This post is part of our sample schedule and routine series, that has schedules from newborn to toddlers. In this post, you’ll find key elements of creating a toddler schedule, factoring different family models. Currently I have a 5 year old, 3 year old and a 7 month old baby. Included are some toddler daily schedule examples for one toddler, toddler and baby and a multiple toddler schedule.
If you want more specific developmental milestones, activity ideas and toy recommendations, check out the post for the specific age:
Related: Two year old schedule, 12-18 month schedule, 18-24 month schedule
Key Elements of a Daily Toddler Schedule
- They may start fighting sleep as they enjoy being awake with you. Stick to your routine- even if it’s just quiet time in their room for nap.
- 2-3 year olds need 13-15 total hours of sleep. 1 nap that lasts 1-2 hours and a bedtime window sometime between 6-8pm. Many families have found that a 4 hour window between waking up from nap and bedtime works really well. So wake up from nap at 3pm, bedtime at 7-7:30. Decide what works for your family and how to get your toddler the hours he needs.
- My friend was recently telling me that she was worried her son went to bed too late. He goes to bed at 9pm. BUT he doesn’t wake up until 8am and consistently takes at least a 2 hour nap. So he is getting the hours he needs, it’s not something I would worry about. The one thing I suggested to her is that when he gets closer to school age, she’d want to slowly move it earlier since he’ll have to get up earlier.
- My oldest son Miles dropped his nap around 4 years old, even though there were some days where it was evident he needed the rest. We maintained some quiet time and an early bedtime so he would be well rested for preschool.
- They really need consistency and predictability at this age. I often tell Miles and Ellis what is going to happen after we get out of the car so they know what is next. Ellis and I have the same goodbye routine at school also- it gives him a sense of comfort and control that he knows what it will be each day.
- We’ve also utilized these checklists to help them create habits. You can start at age 2, but at 3 they can actually start to go down the list independently.
- In addition to a daily schedule, routines for common situations are really helpful at this age as mentioned above.
- For example, when my boys walk in the door they have to hang up their coats, take off shoes and put them in the bin, put their lunch box in the kitchen, go potty and wash hands. If I randomly add a task instead of engraining it into a predictable routine, there is more room for protest.
- There is so much that can be said about discipline and various ways to approach this subject that it has its’ own post. For starters though, decide as a family how you will acknowledge behavior- positive and negative, and stick to your plan.
- Their emotions are very real and they need to be understood and taught how to handle them. This will also vary widely based on personality! The way we disciplined our first was so different than what we had to do with our second, because they are completely different people.
Choices are so so powerful!
- Regardless of personality, this age thrives for independence. It’s funny because I previously wrote how my son Miles protested bath, but it’s nothing compared to my second son Ellis! He protests everything. Ha!
- He likes to pick out his own clothes, shoes, decide what he eats and when etc. If you say anything that sounds like a command, he’ll automatically disagree. Last night he told me, “well, I am not going to wear matching pajamas ever again. I want a train top and dinosaur bottoms.” Lol. Okay kid, whatever works for you. He just wants to exert his power and see how far he can take it. My philosophy is if it’s not a dangerous situation or does not affect anybody negatively- than let it go. I could care less if he wore matching pajamas or if his shirt was on backwards if that makes him happy, lol.
- In other situations where you have to set boundaries, limit the choices given. For example, in the winter wearing a coat is not an option. So instead of telling Ellis to go put on your coat, where he would then try not to wear one and put on shorts. (insert emoji face palm here) I’ll say do you want to put on your mittens or coat first? It still guides what he has to do, but with a choice so he feels he has some control over it.
- All depends on your child’s personality- I can tell Miles “put on your coat” no problem. He’s older now, but also has a more laid back personality.
Remember that all these schedules and times are approximate. Things can change based on the day, which is totally okay. Also your times may look different and that is okay! These are to give you ideas and inspiration to create your own.
One Toddler- 1 Year Old Schedule
7- 7:30am | Wake Up- Sippy cup of milk
7:30-8am | Play: Story time, sensory bins, building blocks or nesting toys, singing songs, or listening to music while playing instruments (xylophone, drums)
8-8:45am | Breakfast
8:45am | Start nap soothing routine
9am | Morning Nap (This nap fades out between 15-18 months)
10:30am | Wake Up- Sippy Cup of Milk
10:30- 11am | Snack
11- 12:15pm | Play time: Large motor development- park or open play, push and pull toys, riding cars. Social development- play dates or reoccurring music or art classes.
12:15pm-12:45pm | Lunch with Water
12:45pm | Start nap soothing routine- same one every time.
1pm | Afternoon Nap
3pm | Wake up and Snack
3:30-6pm | Play: Start easy paint or craft projects. Go outside at least once a day for fresh air.
6:00pm | Dinner and water or milk (milk can be part of soothing routine)
6:30pm | Start bedtime routine. Include same soothing routine for naps but add extra to signify night sleep: like a bath, calming music, lotion massage, pajamas and read stories.
7:00pm | Put down drowsy, but not completely asleep.
Daily Toddler Schedule- 2-3 Year Old
7- 7:30am | Wake Up- Glass of milk or water
7:30-8am | Play independently.
8-8:30am | Breakfast
8:30-10:30am | Outing to the park or indoor play. Or attend toddler gym, dance, music, or art class. Or schedule a more structured classes like ballet, sports, art, or karate.
10:30- 11am | Snack
11- 12:15pm | Help with making lunch and cleaning up. Start thinking about chores they can do when they are 2.
12:15pm-12:45pm | Lunch
12:45pm | Start nap soothing routine- Read 2 books, then dark room, snuggling, , soft singing then white noise machine, cover with favorite blanket and stuffed animal.
1pm | Afternoon Nap
3pm | Wake up and Snack
3:30-6pm | Play with favorite toys or have a second outing, then independent play so you can make dinner or wrap up the day. They can color at this age for longer periods or work on puzzles or other quiet activities.
5pm | If you want to have a designated screen time, this is a good time after a long day and gives you the opportunity to make dinner or other things you have to accomplish.
6:00pm | Dinner and water or milk (milk can be part of bedtime soothing routine)
6:30pm | Start bedtime routine. Include same soothing routine for naps but add extra to signify night sleep: like a bath, music, lotion, massage, pajamas and read books.
7:30pm | Bedtime.
One Toddler and a Baby
7-7:30 | Wake Up and start the day! Change diapers/pull up and get dressed.
7:30-8:30 | Toddler gets a glass of milk and set up for independent play. Nurse or give bottle to baby and cuddle time. You can also choose to have this be your screen time hour for the day- so you can calmly get the baby ready for the day. I save our screen time for right before dinner when they are more antsy or exhausted from the day.
8:30-9 | Make and have breakfast.
9:00 | Baby takes morning nap. Toddler can play with a puzzle, blocks or magnetic books if you choose to stay home. It’s not ideal, but as I have had more kids and more energy to factor in with my older boys, this is the nap we take on the go. It’s usually not as long or restful, but then they take their long afternoon nap in their crib.
*Activities worth leaving early for could be museums, or places farther away. We live in Chicago and the Botanical Garden is about a 45 minute drive so we make a day of it.
9-10:30 | If you are home, you can do housework or prep dinner. Involve your toddler where ever they can pitch in.
10:30-11 | Baby wakes up. You can go out for an outing with the two. Unless- see above- you have already left for the day. Check that diaper bag has all the essentials, change baby and get toddler to use potty.
*A baby and toddler schedule is not complete without some activity ideas. The best classes for a toddler and baby together are music classes hands down! With story time being a close second. They both benefit from it so much and we try to go at least once a week to both. Or you can sign up your toddler for classes like art or sports and hang out with your baby on the sidelines. The park or indoor playspaces are also great options.
12:30 | Lunch
1:00-2 | Both take a nap.
3-4pm | Wake up and snacks.
4-5pm | Play time or second outing even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood. Depending on whether we got outside time earlier. Many babies take a 3rd “power nap” until 6-9 months old, which would be a good reason to stay home.
5-6 | Finish dinner if needed or general clean up. This is when I like to give them a little screen time or dad comes home and plays with the boys. If you are breastfeeding, good time to nurse the baby before you sit for dinner.
6-7 | Dinner and family time. Clean up toys, start baby bedtime routine first.
7-7:30 | Bedtime routine
7:15- 7:30 | Baby is asleep first, potential story time together depending on how tired baby is. Toddler may want longer stories and it’s nice alone time with them if they get a separate story time.
8pm | All kids are asleep!
Two Toddlers (both at home)
7-8AM | Wake up and have breakfast. Play independently or with each other. This is our summer schedule, since Miles has been in preschool since a few days after turning 3 years old. Ellis had just turned one, so the last few summers we have a more relaxed morning than the hustle and bustle of getting to school. During this time, I’ll plan dinner also if needed and we have time.
9AM | Get dressed and pack up diaper bag, snacks and possibly lunch for morning activity. Even if you have already potty trained, back up clothes were always nice to have for accidents that are bound to happen those early months. You can always leave it in the car and take a smaller bag out with snacks.
10-12PM | Morning activity to the pool, library, kids class, playdate, park fun, a museum, or walk in the neighborhood. We like to make a summer bucket list to help plan our summers and visit as much as possible in the city.
12-1PM | Lunch at same location of activity if possible or make something quick at home.
1PM-3PM | Nap time. Chores for mommy like laundry, cleaning the house, or working on the blog. If we ventured out to a longer activity like driving to the suburbs, we may still be out and about during nap time. I think that’s okay every now and then, happens more in the summer and that’s expected. My older son Miles stopped napping at 4, he would have quiet activities like playing legos or puzzles or we’d work on something together since it was my only alone time with him.
3PM-5PM | Afternoon Activity. If we had a simple morning activity that didn’t extend through lunch and nap, we may venture out again. To the pool, a playdate, library, swimming lessons, park, take an art or music class, play in the yard or do some crafts inside.
*If we came home during 3-5, we would have quiet time and try to calm down after our long day. Do a puzzle, play with legos, set up the train tracks, color, draw or do a simple craft project.
5-530PM– Prepping and eating dinner. Varies based on the day. I usually like to meal plan at least a little bit. Crockpot or Instant Pot meals also are a stress free way to get dinner on the table when you are busy during the day.
*5PM also starts the dinner checklist and chores. You can start chores as early as 2 years old- mostly cleaning up with assistance, and our second son Ellis started his first chore of feeding the dog at 2 years old. He’ll dump the whole container in the bowl, so it’s definitely a supervised activity. He asked for this job because he wanted something to do while his older brother set the table- which has been his job since 3 and 1/2. Learning to clean up their place after eating and toys after playing are perfect starter chores, before adding chores that help the family.
6-730PM | Bedtime routine. We try to keep this as normal as possible. Sometimes we’ll skip bath if we were out late or had friends over late, but we try to do it often. The boys just get so relaxed and ready to sleep when it’s still included. Finally, we read books together.
8PM | Everyone is asleep!
Hope this helped you create a daily toddler schedule that fits your family’s needs and size best. I’ll be back soon to share all our preschool routines!
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