For such little people, you’d be surprised at how busy the average toddler’s day can be! But these super active mini-humans don’t get their seemingly endless energy from nowhere; it all starts with a flexible routine of sleeping, playing and eating.
Before the age of 12 months it can be really difficult sticking to any particular schedule. Your baby seems to grow every day and just when you got the hang of one routine, everything changes again. Now that you have a toddler on your hands, you can look forward to more predictable daily patterns.
Your little one may still be growing way too fast for your liking, but thankfully their sleeping and eating habits shouldn’t vary too much over time.
Routines can be great for a number of reasons. They help to provide children with comfort and security through predictability, but they also help parents when planning their day.
Set bedtimes and nap times will help to support your child in getting enough sleep instead of becoming grumpy and throwing one of those infamous toddler tantrums in the middle of the supermarket. Knowing bedtime is only a couple of hours away may also help you get through the day, too!
Toddlers still need quite a lot of sleep – about 10-12 hours at night and 1-2 hours during the day is ideal. You may want to use our example and adjust it to fit your toddler’s typical day.
Toddlers are often at their best in the morning, making them more receptive to learning and new challenges. Make the most of this time by teaching them new games and skills.
07:00am: Wake up and enjoy some cuddles in bed
07:30am: Breakfast time
08:00am: Clean up and get dressed
08:30am: Play games (good time for play group, too)
10:30am: Healthy snack
11:00am: Music and dancing
11:30am: Wind down before lunch and read some books
Use this time to head outdoors for a run around. As bedtime nears, remember to tone things down so they’re not too excited before getting into bed. Too much activity can cause sleep difficulties.
1:00pm: Nap time
2:30pm: Wake up and have an afternoon snack
3:00pm: Go outside for a walk or play in the park
6:30pm: Bath, tooth brushing and PJs time
7:30pm: Read a story before bed
Remember that each child develops at their own pace. If your little one is taking a little longer than their friends, it’s probably nothing to worry about and they’ll probably catch up within the month. If they’re really quite behind the norm or you’re worried about any aspect of their growth or development, you can always consult with your doctor or early childhood nurse to clear any doubt.
First steps generally happen at around 12-13 months, but some toddlers won’t get there until 18 months. Once they start walking, there’s no stopping them and they’ll be running, climbing, dancing, and kicking balls not long after that first step.
You’ve probably already heard “mama” or “dada” by now. Soon your toddler will start learning other words, too. By 18 months they will have around 15-20 words in their vocabulary and by the time they’re two years old they should be able to speak four-word sentences. From 18 months your child will be able to follow simple instructions and point to the correct body parts when you name them. Toddlers learn to talk from hearing language around them. Have your toddler’s hearing checked if you’re concerned.
Smiles, giggles, and laughter have probably been filling your house since your toddler was a four-month old baby, but it’s not until around 14 months that they’ll really start to ‘get’ humour. By this age they’ll be able to recognise when something is funny and their personality will only evolve from there.
Your little one’s social skills will still be developing. So while they will play alongside other babies from about the age of 18 months, they still won’t be able to really interact with them. During the toddler years their social skills will really increase and they’ll be playing make-believe soon after they turn two.
From 12 months your child should be able to drink from a cup, some toddlers need more practice than others. If you haven’t introduced a cup to your child yet, now’s the time. From 15 months they’ll be able to use a little spoon and fork. By 18 months your child will be eating food just like the rest of the family, though they might still make a lot of mess!