Inside: Struggling to create a one year old schedule? Battling naps and bedtime? Cranky toddler all. day. long? You’ll love these simple solutions for your one year old’s daily routine. Plus steal three sample schedules you can put right to work!
All of a sudden, there she was. Standing victoriously on top of the coffee table. She grinned at me and clapped her hands. She was so darn proud of herself.
My little one year old baby girl had conquered that mountain! And now she was determined to bask in her accomplishment.
As I rushed to whisk her back to safety I couldn’t help thinking, “Where did my baby go? What happened to that tiny little fluff ball of baby goodness? Where did this confident, daredevil little girl come from?”
That’s the essence of a one year old, isn’t it? It’s a balancing act between all the needs (food, sleep, and snuggles) and all the wants (freedom, fun, and play).
With one year olds in particular, having a predictable routine can help you meet their needs. And with plenty of playtime included in the schedule, you’ll be able to offer for most of their wants, too!
Today I want to help you tackle two common problems with one year old schedules. We’ll walk through how to solve these problems to that you can get your one year old back on track, ready to take on more adventures!
And I’ll also give you three sample schedules that you can test and try with your own toddler.
Need more scheduling help? Try these posts:
- Newborn and Toddler/Preschooler Schedule (with free printable!)
- 3 Month Schedule
- 6 Month Schedule
- 9 Month Schedule
- Toddler Schedule (with free printable!)
- Clever Solutions to Create a Kids Schedule that Works!
Problem #1: Fighting Naps and Bedtime
One year olds are tough cookies, right? On one hand, they’re still in the lovable, squeezable, slobbery kisses phase.
However, one year olds are quickly discovering that they are their own person with their own opinions and their own plans. (My kids did not get the memo that they were supposed to wait until two to enter the “testing” phase!)
And let’s be honest, it’s tough when those plans don’t involve sleep!
So when your one year old starts fighting naps or bedtime, you’ve got to do some digging. Is this a behavioural issue? Are they trying to make their stamp on the world and just need redirection?
Or is it a routine issue? Is it time to adjust their daily routine so that they have enough of a sleep debt to actually be sleepy at naptime and bedtime?
The tricky part is that is could be a combination of both of these factors. If so, brush up on your authoritative parenting strategies first. And then tackle those schedule or routine changes!
Solution#1: Drop the Second Nap
If you’ve decided that your child’s routine needs tweaking, the place to start is with naps. Midway through the first year, most children drop their second nap. But you don’t want to do this without a little forethought and planning! Use these tips to drop your one year old’s second nap.
- Push the first nap back by 15 or 20 minutes every day until your child is napping at your desired later time.
- Fight the crankies with tons of outdoor time. Put your child in a stroller and take a nature walk. Visit a new park. Go exploring! Nature has a wonderful way of soothing kids and it’s especially helpful when you’re making a routine change.
- Keep other errands and non-kid-friendly trips to a minimum if possible. While your making the transition to one nap, take just a few days to focus on your child’s needs and build a strong foundation for their new routine!
If you’re struggling with sleep habits, it’s not too late to start! Read this article about the mistakes I didn’t make with my second baby, and what I did instead to encourage great sleep habits! You can use these strategies for your one year old as well.
My favorite sleep training book is The Happy Sleeper. This book has a really helpful and balanced way of looking at sleep training. One of the strategies in this book is called the Sleep Ladder. It starts with this idea of doing the least intrusive thing to help your baby sleep. If you want more details about these baby sleep strategies, be sure to check out the book The Happy Sleeper!
Problem #2: Bored Baby
Along with their newfound opinions and plans, one year olds are beginning to blossom into explorers.
Why did my baby girl climb on top of that table? Curiosity.
Why do one year olds constantly dump things on the floor? Curiosity.
Why did my son pour a whole bag of flour on himself when he was one year old? Curiosity!
Curiosity is so important at this young toddler age because it sets the stage for learning later on. And there’s plenty of learning to be done now, too!
It’s important to remember to feed that curious nature with positive, mom-approved activities and experiences in your daily routine.
Often if my child is fussy it’s not because she’s hungry or sleepy. She’s just bored and needs to get her brain or body moving!
So as you create your one year old routine, be mindful of this potential cranky kid trap.
Solution #2: Start Positive Playtime Habits
So what do you do about a bored tiny toddler?
The trick is to offer lots of opportunities to explore and satiate that curious nature. As you set positive playtime habits you’ll notice two things happen:
- Your child will be less whiny in-between naps and meals. A busy mind and body doesn’t have time to whine!
- Your child will become more and more curious and creative!
Mama, you’ve got so many options! My personal philosophy is to limit screen time as much as possible, even at this young age. I’ve found that my kids are more creative, less cranky, and much more cooperative when we limit the amount of time they spend in front of the TV or tablets.
Now I’m not saying never. There are times when mama needs a break, right? But a few positive playtime habits will give your child the confidence and creativity to play independently without screen time.
So what positive playtime habits am I talking about? The key to avoiding a bored, cranky toddler is to practice both together time and independent playtime:
- Together Time: parent-involved play, read a book, do a fun activity together, get outside, or just get down on the floor and play!
- Independent Time: child-led play, look through picture books, play with toys that don’t need adult supervision.
If you’re wondering how to start with independent play, try this: Start out by playing with your child, then move to the next room over. Aim for five minutes of playtime at first, then gradually stretch it out. Use phrases like “I can’t wait to see what you made!” to encourage confidence in your child.
For children on the younger side of one year old, it’s helpful to set out fun combinations of toys to get them engaged. Think: magnet blocks + metal baking sheet, or baby doll + big cardboard box for a house.
Here are my favorite tips and tools to help your one year old be stimulated and engaged during playtime. These will be so helpful as you create your child’s daily routine! Some of these you can do together with your child, and some will build those independent play skills!
- 5 Easy Tips for 18 Month Old Play
- The A-Z Guide to Nature Walks
- Fun and Fuzzy Pom Pom Color Sort
- Printable cards with 101 Screen Free Ideas
- Invitation to Paint: Toddler Pom Pom Painting
- Toddler Process Art Projects for Together Time!
- Beautiful Montessori Nature Sensory Tray
- DIY Felt Board + 3 Easy Activities
Overwhelmed at home with your baby, toddler, or preschooler? Help is here! Download my Everyday Calm eBook and Printable Pack bundle, and learn simple mindsets and routines to conquer the chaos at home with kids.
How Many Naps Does a One Year Old Need?
One year olds will take one to two naps per day. Usually around 18 months or toward the second birthday they will drop the second nap. Daytime sleep should be around three hours in total. They should also be getting 11+ hours of sleep at night. With that in mind, here are three sample schedules that will work for either one or two naps! Which one will be the best fit for your child?
Sample One Year Old Schedule #1 (Two Naps)
If your one year old is an early riser, this schedule will get them the rest during the day they need to avoid over-tiredness. The key is to allow for an earlier bedtime as well!
- 6:00 Wake-Up
- 7:00 Breakfast
- 7:30-9:30 Playtime
- 9:30 Snack
- 10:00-12:00 Nap #1
- 12:00 Lunch
- 12:30-3:30 Playtime
- 3:30 Snack
- 4:00 Nap #2 (This nap should be no longer than 45 minutes-1 hour to avoid bedtime conflicts.)
- 5:00-6:00 Playtime (This is a great time for independent play so that you can prep for dinner!)
- 6:00 Dinner
- 6:30 Bath and Bedtime Routine
- 7:00 Bedtime (Since your child is an early riser, an earlier bedtime will help them be well rested.)
Sample One Year Old Schedule #2 (Two Naps)
This routine is close to what I use with my daughter. We have to pick up my son and nephew from school in the afternoon and leave about 1:30. So I manage my daughter’s naps in around those times. If you’ve got school age kids, this schedule will work beautifully so that your younger child gets the rest they need!
- 7:00 Wake-up
- 7:15 Breakfast (We’re out the door by 7:30 and return home by 8:00.)
- 8:00 Playtime (Take a walk, then back inside for independent play while I tidy up, get laundry going, etc.)
- 10:00 Snack
- 10:30-12:30 Nap #1
- 12:30 Lunch
- 1:00-3:30 Playtime (I bring books and play music in the car while we sit in the pick-up line!)
- 3:30 Snack
- 4:00- 4:45 Nap #2 (Since nap #1 was a decent length, this nap should be 45 minutes max.)
- 4:45-6:30 Playtime (I like to set up play ideas that both my kids can enjoy together. I depend on my preschooler to play with his sister during this time so that I can prep for dinner. I love play ideas that are beneficial for both age groups: Simple things like blocks, playing in tents, books, and pretend play. )
- 6:30 Dinner
- 7:00 Bath and Bedtime Routine
- 7:30 Bedtime (Our routine is to say prayers all together in my preschooler’s room, then I put my one year old down in her crib.)
Sample One Year Old Schedule #3 (One Nap)
Whoo boy. If your one year old is ready to drop the second nap, this schedule is for you! The key to success with this routine is to keep your little one engaged in the morning as you stretch out the morning awake time.
- 7:00 Wake-up
- 7:30 Breakfast
- 8-11:30 Playtime (Offer a light snack during this time if needed around 10:00.)
- 11:30 Lunch
- 12:00-3:00 Nap
- 3:00 Snack
- 3:30-6:30 Playtime (Allow for some independent play during this time so that you can prep for dinner and catch up on chores.)
- 6:30 Dinner
- 7:00 Bath and Bedtime Routine
- 7:30 Bedtime
In Conclusion, Remember This…
You’ve totally got this! Your one year old’s routine is going to be awesome. Just keep at it, and make little adjustments every day until you find your groove.
Remember, the two major enemies to a great one year old schedule are sleep battles and boredom. But now you know how to solve these problems! Just keep and eye on those nap schedules and make a plan to offer lots of engaging playtime and together time with your child.
Tell us, what are the biggest obstacles with your one year old’s routine? Which of our three sample schedules would work the best for you?