Having a 1 year old is fun. And crazy. I am a firm believer that schedules and routines help control the chaos. I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 13 month old currently. Below I will share what has worked for me and what I consider the best daily routine for a 1 year old.
I have never forced my kids into a strict schedule. I’ve always let them sort of lead the way. I read their cues and then build their schedule around that. It’s good to remember that kids are always growing and changing, so you always have to be ready to shift their schedule as needed.
With all that said, let’s get to the good stuff! Here’s a look into my daily routine with a 1 year old.
(Click here if you want to get right to the printable version)
Morning: My son usually wakes up between 6:30 and 7 a.m. I get him out of his crib and let him play for about an hour while I make breakfast. I typically give him cheerios or some sort of cereal as a snack while he waits.
Nap #1: After breakfast, I get him dressed for the day and then lay him down for his morning nap around 9:30. I try to lay him down about 3 hours after he wakes up in the morning, that’s usually when he starts to get tired. He’ll sleep for 1-2 hours during his first nap.
Afternoon: After he wakes up from his nap, we play outside or run any errands I need to get done.
Lunch: I feed him lunch around 1 p.m. or so then let him play inside until his next nap.
Nap #2: I usually lay him down around 2-2:30 p.m, and again he sleeps 1-2 hours depending on how tired he is.
Evening: We play together after he wakes up from his second nap, until it’s time to make dinner. I usually put on music or something to entertain the kids while I make dinner.
Dinner: We usually all eat dinner together around 5:30.
Bathtime: He gets a bath every other day after dinner.
Bedtime: We read a few books after bath time, then tuck both kiddos in by 7 p.m. I have my two boys together in the same room, so they usually play and talk for a while and fall asleep by 8. Since he can’t have blankets in his crib yet, he sleeps in a sleep sack. I usually leave a water cup and a teether in his crib also.
Do You Really Need a Routine for a 1 Year Old?
My answer to this is ABSOLUTELY. Studies have shown that young children who have routines or schedules are actually more adaptable. When something in their day changes, the rest of their routine just shifts and it’s not such a big deal to them! A daily routine can also help avoid tantrums. As a parent of a 1 year old, you probably know how quickly they can go from good to not so good, especially when they are hungry! A schedule can really help prevent that (as long as you stick to it) because they will start to learn the cues of what’s coming next. Babies and toddlers adapt SO quickly. For example, if you start laying a baby or toddler down for a nap every day around the same time, you’ll notice that after a few days the crying will stop and voila you’ve got a routine.
I’ve always been an organized person, but once I had my first baby (Thomas) all that went out the window for a while. Once I got my bearings and I was able to settle into a good routine with him, it helped me SO much! It just makes everything feel so much more manageable when you have a routine in place. I absolutely veer from it a lot more now that I have two little ones, but I always know when they need a few days of solid routine. For example, if we go out of town or on a vacation for a few days, I always spend a couple of days at home afterwards to let them “reset” and settle back into their routine.
The bottom line is do what works for your little one. Everyone’s schedules will look a little bit different. Below is an example daily routine for a 1 year old if you want to give it a try!
1 Year Old Sample Schedule
- 6:30 a.m. Wake Up
- 7-8 a.m. Playtime & Snacks
- 8 a.m. Breakfast
- 9:30 a.m. Nap #1
- 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Playtime Outside or Running Errands & Snacks
- 1 p.m. Lunch
- 2 p.m. Nap #2
- 4-5 p.m. Playtime & Snacks
- 5:30 p.m. Dinner
- 6:15 p.m. Bathtime
- 7 p.m. Bedtime
Let me know in the comments below what works for you and your little one and if you found this sample schedule helpful.
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