When a baby is young it is hard to solidly implement a routine into their lives. They eat when they’re hungry, sleep when they’re tired and awake when they feel like it – no matter what time of the day or night! This can be really tricky for new parents to get their heads around and even parents whom already have children solidly in a routine. A new baby totally shakes up the balance.
But there is hope!.. For a toddler it is really important to set a solid routine and stick to it as much as possible and it really isn’t as hard as you may first think. Amelia has been in a rough routine for quite a few months now but even so it’s still never 100% and that’s what I really need to work on as a mother. (I could blame just general pregnancy laziness for this one!) You can start to implement a routine from any age, but studies show it tends to be more effective towards the age of a year old.
If you’re struggling, your toddler can dictate how their daily routine should be layed out so pay attention to the signs. For example, they probably get tired or playful or hungry at particular times each day so base your new routine around them and how they feel.
Expect that illnesses can really shake up a routine and the first 6 months of a baby’s life can be filled with colic and teething problems so a routine may not be as effective at this age – and you should really just go with the flow; not change their behaviour patterns just yet.
An Average Day For Amelia
7am-10am: Wake up, go downstairs, drink of water and a nappy change.
Half an hour after waking up: Breakfast
10am-12pm – Nap time
2pm- 3pm: Wake up from nap time, nappy change and drink of water
Have lunch afterwards
5pm-6pm: Tea time
6.30pm: Bath time
7.15pm- 9pm: Bed time
As you can see there is a lot wrong with Amelia’s schedule. She sleeps through lunch time and then ends up with a really late lunch which is no good at all. It’s hard to know when is best for a toddler to nap, and for how long. Ideally I want Amelia to be napping right after lunch or right before as to not miss any important meal times.
Amelia’s bedtimes also seem to be getting later and later recently – she just always seems to have so much energy and I hate putting her to bed before I feel like she’s ready. She used to be really tired around 7.15pm every night and that’s when she would go to bed – sleepy or not. I’m definitely going to work on this and start to implement a much better and more efficient routine for her like getting back into a 7.15pm bedtime every night with a wind down period of either a TV programme or story.
Amelia’s Ideal Daily Routine
7.30am: Wake up go downstairs, have a bottle and nappy change
10.00am: Small fruit snack
10.30am: Nap time
12.30pm: Wake up from nap then have a bottle of water and nappy change
1.00pm: Lunch time
3.00pm: Small fruit snack
5.30pm: Tea time
7pm: Bottle of water and pjs all ready for bed then a story
7.15pm: Bed time
(If you’re feeling stuck on ideas borrow this layout and adjust to your own needs)
I think this routine is going to be much better for Amelia and hopefully will minimise tantrums during the day which Amelia is getting very well known for now!
Obviously when you’re holidaying or out for the day/evening you can’t always stick to these daily and even bedtime routines. If we are out for the day, Amelia won’t have a nap at all during the day so tends to get a little cranky around 4pm ish. My main focus for me is making sure that she has set mealtimes and snack times that don’t differ no matter what we are doing or where we are.
Some parents find they are personally less stressed and feel much better with an hour-by-hour routine set in place, whereas others (like me) prefer a rough guide because after all, a toddler doesn’t follow a guide line no matter how much you try and make them! Toddlers thrive from having a set routine for their days that allows him/her to explore and grow rapidly throughout their day with some daily consistency. So many things are developing in our toddlers brains every day that we don’t even realise such as language, social and motor skills. A lot of what they learn is from us as parents and main role models so it’s our duty to give them this structure in order to help them flourish.
Benefits Of Having A Routine
- Minimise Difficult Bedtimes – Amelia falls asleep really well when she has a set bed time which is really nice to get through bed time without any screaming.
- Confidence Booster – Toddlers feel a lot more confident knowing what to expect next in their day. Knowing a drink is waiting right after a nap will make him/her feel like thy have more control in their little world.
- Minimise Tantrums – A schemer allows a child to chill out for a while and when they know something is coming up they get les fussy and demanding – I’m still waiting for This to happy to Amelia! She’s very much an ‘I want it now’ baby.
- A Flexible Schedule – Once a routine is in place it will be easier to be flexible such as if they need to wake a little earlier for whatever reason.
- Helps Us Mums Relax With A More Smooth Sailing Day – A routine gives a parent a sense of ‘knowing what to expect’ from their day. Knowing when you will finally get 5 minutes peace makes the day so much easier to deal with!
Amelia’s bedtime routine is really simple. She lays down with a bottle of water in front of the TV watching Peppa Pig or Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom for 20 minutes to half an hour. Once she’s had a drink I put her into her pj’s and change her nappy then take her over to give daddy a kiss and cuddle. As I carry her out of the living room she always loves to stop and wave bye-bye to daddy which is really sweet! Then she goes straight into bed with no fuss laying on her belly with her little bum up in the air!
The Importance Of Repetition
Although this may be majorly boring to us parents – reading the same book or singing the same nursery rhyme or watching the the same TV programme time and time again, it is really good for your toddler. It gives them a sense of comfort and confidence from knowing the words coming up in a song or how a story ends. Repetition is also really good for learning, such as timing whilst remembering where and when certain words are spoken/sang or used – again in songs or nursery rhymes.
I ended up reading Amelia’s Easter Peppa Pig book five times one night one after the other and it was so boring! She really loved it tho which was the main thing and she was super excited pointing at the animals and waiting for the song at the end.
How did you introduce a routine to your toddler? Thanks for reading! xx