How to Create an 18-Month-Old Schedule

Making the transition from having a baby to having a toddler is an adventure. Your baby suddenly starts talking and telling you what they want (and don’t want), and they may be turning your daily routine upside down with their newfound independence.


If you’re struggling to find a daily rhythm, I encourage you to try an 18-month-old schedule. Before we jump right into a daily schedule, it’s important to take these things into consideration!


By the way, you’re awesome! If no one has told you that today, you need to hear it. The toddler years can be hard, and at times, they can make you question yourself as a mom. This is why I have shared some ideas on how you can be a better mom to your toddler with little effort. You may also be interested in some books on parenting toddlers.


*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. I only recommend products I love or would personally use.



Benefits of Having a Daily Schedule

  • Security

As your toddler begins to grow, they’re going to greatly benefit from having a daily routine. Having a daily routine allows your 18-month-old to predict and know what is going to happen next in their day. This allows them to feel secure because there isn’t as much unknown as they go through each day.


  • Boosts Self-Esteem

As your child learns to predict and know what’s going to happen during their day, it boosts their self-esteem. Similar to how you feel when you accomplish something, this is a skill that feels the same way to them. Every day they can feel like they successfully made it through their daily routine and this is what makes them feel good about themselves.


  • How to do things

Another benefit of a schedule for an 18-month-old is that they learn how to do things. Because they can predict what’s coming next, they will often start to jump in to help, or they may even start doing simple daily tasks on their own. This may be something like getting a pair of shoes out to go somewhere, putting their laundry in the hamper, etc. It may not seem like something big to you, but to them, it’s a big deal!


  • Structure/ Boundaries

I feel like this reason is the most important to put a schedule into play for a toddler. Having a daily routine for an 18-month-old allows them to feel some structure in their day with built-in boundaries. Toddlers can start to understand expectations as well as consequences, both positive and negative.


Boundaries are so important for toddlers. They start to understand that there are some things they can do, and others they can’t. It may be a matter of safety or personal preference on your behalf.





Key Elements of an 18-Month-Old Schedule

  • Structured Time

When making your 18-month-old schedule, make sure you add structured time. Free play is so important, but having a bit of structured time is equally as important. Now, when I say structures, don’t think like a classroom. Structured time may be playtime when you have a specific activity you want to do with your toddler. It may be that you want to do some kind of craft with your child. Any of these ideas are great!


  • Free Play Time

Be sure you have plenty of free playtime in your daily routine for your toddler. It is often through free play time when toddlers learn the most. They use all of their senses as they try to start to understand and make sense of the world around them. Make sure you have plenty of sensory toys that encourage them to learn new things.


  • Meal Times

A great benefit of creating a schedule for an 18-month-old is that you can also know what comes next. For me, having a daily routine is super helpful when it comes to mealtime. Especially as a stay-at-home mom, I can get lost in the day. Mealtimes are one of the things that are consistent each day within about a half-hour.


  • Bedtime/Naptime

Make sure you’re keeping consistent sleep times for your toddler. Sleep is such an important part of toddler development, so make sure your 18-month-old is getting an adequate amount of sleep. If you’re struggling with a climbing toddler, here’s how to keep your toddler in their bed.



  • Outside Time

There is so much fun waiting outside! As you’re writing your daily schedule, make sure you put some outside playtime in there. During the toddler years, I love to be outside with my kids just talking about the things they see and hear. You’d be amazed how much your kids will absorb during outdoor playtime.


  • Screen Time

If you allow your toddler to have screen time, plan accordingly. I like to use this time to my advantage and schedule it during a time when I can either sit down with them and help them learn or when I can use the time to get something done around the house. At this young age, I do usually sit with them.


  • Set Alarms When Needed

As you’re adjusting to your new daily routine, I would encourage you to set alarms on your phone. As I mentioned before, I do find that I can get lost in the day and look around and wonder what I did all day. Having alarms at important times (like when to start dinner), help me to keep my family in a daily rhythm.



toddler girl laying on the floor in her bedroom



Sample Schedules for an 18-Month-Old Toddler

Sample 18-month-old schedule with 1 nap

7 am: Wake up/breakfast/get dressed

8 am: Independent playtime

9 am: Snack time

9:30 am: Play outside

11 am: Come inside/ prepare lunch together

11:30 am: Lunch/Clean Up

12 pm: Structured activity w/parent

1 pm- 4 pm: Naptime

4 pm: Wake up, snacktime

4:30 pm: Independent playtime

5:30 pm: Dinner

6:30 pm: Bathtime/storytime/songs

7:30 pm: Bedtime



Sample 18-month-old schedule with 2 naps

7 am: Wake up/breakfast/get dressed

8 am: Independent playtime

9 am: Snack time

9:30 am: Play outside

10 am: Morning Nap

11:30 am: Wake up/Lunch

12 pm: Structured activity w/parent

2:30 pm- 4 pm: Naptime

4 pm: Wake up, snacktime

4:30 pm: Independent playtime

5:30 pm: Dinner

6:30 pm: Bathtime/storytime/songs

7:30 pm: Bedtime



Sample 18-Month-Old Schedule for Daycare

6 am: Wake up/breakfast/get dressed

7 am: Leave for Daycare

9 am: Snack time

9:30 am: Play outside

11 am: Come inside for indoor playtime

11:30 am: Lunch/Clean Up

12 pm: Structured activity/ Craft time

1 pm- 4 pm: Naptime

4 pm: Wake up, snacktime

4:30 pm: Independent playtime

5:30 pm: Pick up from daycare

6:30 pm: Dinner

7:30 pm: Bathtime/story/songs

8 pm: Bedtime




18-Month-Old Important Milestones

  • Speech

 Between ages 1 and 2, toddlers can say around 15 words, and they can repeat words they hear. Be careful! LOL.


  • Can Follow Simple Instructions

At 18 months, toddlers can begin to follow simple one and two-step instructions. Something like picking up a toy and putting it somewhere specific, or go grab your blue gym shoes. Keep things simple as your toddler begins to follow instructions.


  • Physical

I love watching toddlers come into their physical abilities. You can expect toddlers to be able to throw a ball, build with blocks, match shapes, scribble with crayons or sidewalk chalk, play pretend, play hide and seek, etc. It’s so much fun to be able to actually play with toddlers as they learn new skills!


  • Moving Milestones

Mobility is something that you’ll really start to see as your toddler etches toward the two-year mark. You will likely see them learn to kick a ball, climb up and down things (with assistance), pull toys, they can get on the couch alone, walk and run alone, etc.


mom with 18 month old son



Fun Activities for an 18-Month-Old Schedule

  • Practice letters, numbers, shape sorting, size sorting, etc.
  • Identify simple patterns
  • Singing songs
  • Playing an instrument
  • Practice washing their hands
  • Talk about the weather
  • Lacing shoestrings
  • Walking on a balance beam
  • Playdough
  • Puzzles
  • Playing ball
  • Painting
  • Putting stickers on paper





Toddler Daily Routine FAQ’s

Can toddlers sleep through the night?

Absolutely! Most toddlers are sleeping through the night at the 18-month mark, but just because your toddler isn’t, doesn’t mean anything is wrong. If you’re concerned, I recommend talking to your pediatrician. 


How much sleep do toddlers need? 

On average, toddlers need about 12-14 hours of sleep each day. How your toddler is getting that amount of sleep in during the day will vary based upon bedtime, wake time, and naps- both length and quantity. Don’t feel like you’re a bad parent if your kiddo isn’t getting this much sleep. Keep in mind it’s just a recommendation.


When is a good nap time for a toddler? 

Nap times will vary depending on how many naps your toddler takes during the day. If your 18-month-old is still taking 2 naps, each nap will probably be between 1-2 hours. If your toddler only takes one nap each day, you can expect them to sleep 1-3 hours for that one nap.


Do toddlers need more than one nap? How do I know when it’s time to drop down to one nap?

If you’re wondering if it’s time to drop down to one nap, here are some telltale signs. If your toddler is not ready to nap in the morning, this may be a sign it’s time to give up a nap. Another way to know it’s time to give up a nap is if every single nap and bedtime are a struggle. If you’re spending 30+ minutes trying to get your 18-month-old to sleep for both naps, as well as bedtime, then it’s time to try one nap during the day and see if they do to sleep easier.


What is the best wake-up time for a toddler?

Toddlers usually wake up between 6 am and 8 am. Most are usually up around 7 am if allowed to wake naturally. But, if you have to get your kiddo to daycare, obviously you can adjust their wake time as needed.



Why is my 18-month-old waking up at night? 

Most 18-month-olds will sleep through the night. If you find that your toddler was sleeping through the night and then suddenly is waking up at night, you may be experiencing the 18-month-old sleep regression.


What is the best bedtime for a toddler? 

If you’re struggling to find the best time to put your toddler to bed, you need to consider your daily rhythms. It is recommended to have toddlers in bed between 6:30-7:30.


How do you get an 18-month-old on a routine?

The most important thing you need to keep in mind when trying to get an 18-month-old on a schedule is consistency. If you have a bad day, leave that day behind and start fresh the next day. If you’re committed to the schedule, your toddler will eventually catch on and go through the schedule with you.


How much milk does an 18-month-old need? 

An average 18-month-old toddler should be getting around 16 oz of whole milk daily. This may also come in the form of yogurt too!




Don’t let the idea of creating an 18-month-old schedule intimidate you. You can easily start with some daily rhythms and create a daily routine that will work for your family.




More AWESOME Posts About Toddlers & Preschoolers

How to Create a 3-Year-Old Schedule That Works!

Helpful Books for Parenting Toddlers

How to be a Better Mom to Your Toddler

How to Keep Your Climbing Toddler in Their Bed

How to Get Preschoolers to Help Clean

Age-Appropriate Chores for Preschoolers


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