A Day in the Life of a Toddler: One Year and Counting
Before I had my own child I didn’t really have a clue what a one year old did. Even after watching a dozen nieces and nephews growing up, I couldn’t really recall what they did, when. I’d wonder – What’s a baby capable of doing by the time they’re one year old? How long even is a day to a one year old? And what on earth is required to keep a one year old content and unharmed by close of play?
Despite raising kids being the ultimate test of anyone’s sanity, I’m pretty proud (and relieved) my almost one and a half year son, Reuben, is the bucket of fun, happy-go-lucky child he is. Parenting is beyond challenging, and while I’m definitely not lucky to be struggling with my mental and physical health, I am glad I have my significant other to fight the good fight with me.
While our day, as much as it revolves around feeding, entertaining, nappying and incessantly sanitising, and with Reuben likely spending his days much like the next toddler – snacking, stealing my mobile phone, scrolling through Instagram and Youtubing Miffy – it’s possibly a little different to some of Reuben’s friends’ whose days begin earlier, end earlier, have siblings and are raised by one parent. And it’s highly likely a very different day to when I was raised by my parents. But this is the way it is. We do what we do to survive and you can’t say fairer than that.
So this is a typical day in the life of my toddler, Reuben. I actually wrote most of this up back when Reuben had just turned one, and it’s interesting to see that the day’s routine are pretty much still the same. How long this will remain, only time will tell!
8:30 – 9:00am REUBEN WAKES UP
I’m aware this is quite late for a little one’s morning to begin, but here it is. This is when the little man stirs and announces to mum and dad it’s time to get up. As we co-sleep this routine is as matter of fact as you’d imagine. A foot in the face or a finger in your eye are pretty standard methods of waking up. Then it’s to the window to see what today looks like!
9:30am WASHED & DRESSED
Once we’ve woken up, Reuben’s waved his hellos and I’ve bumped up the heating on my Hive app (or opened the window more now it’s boiling hot) it’s out of bed and into action. Reuben will slide backwards off the bed onto the floor, have a drink of water and toddle off to greet Freya the rabbit on his venture into the landing, while I select his outfit for the day. When it’s cold he’ll wear a short sleeve bodysuit, a long sleeve top or jumper with a pair of bottoms and some socks or now we’re in the heatwave, it’s a t-shirt and shorts.
Using a washing up bowl of warm water and bath bubbles I’ll wash Reuben on his changing table, sat on a towel. Face, teeth, hands, feet and bottom all get washed, nappy pants are wrestled on and clothes are swiftly changed from pyjamas into his day outfit.
A bowl of porridge oats or Cheerios made with whole cows milk will start Reuben’s day. Sometimes he’ll sit in his bumbo but mostly he’ll just eat from an offered spoon while delving into his toy box. Toast and Marmite or peanut butter or just buttery spread usually follow, served on his own melamine plate more often than not swiped from our own breakfast plates because apparently someone else’s tastes better.
11:00am PLAY TIME
Once breakfast’s out of the way it’s into the toy chest and time to decant the entire bookshelf all over the living room floor. When Reuben was actually one he liked to play with an interactive Stick Man book that he got for Christmas and swiftly destroyed. He still has it, missing the actual book but the sounds was the best bit according to him anyway. Five months on, it’s all about the Miffy books and demanding Miffy or Thomas and Friends on tv.
In the morning when everyone’s fed and dressed I like to get my washing put on, and Reuben always comes to help assist me. From clothes being sorted into a wash pile, to being placed in the washer and then later transferred in and out of the dryer, Reuben likes to muck in with it all. Now he likes to man the detergent drawer of the washer, only it usually gets slammed shut before I’m ready and fabric conditioner splashes back out.
1:00pm LUNCH TIME
When Reuben gets hungry he tends to expect milk so in a bid to make sure he eats solid food I like to give him something relatively quick to prepare. Now he excitedly runs for his Bumbo seat which I’ll bring into the kitchen. What’s on the menu? Finger sandwiches filled with cheese triangle or meat paste, a little bowl of baked beans or spaghetti hoops are always good, as is a small cheese toastie or cheesy scrambled egg. If we’re waiting for something to cool down, he’ll munch on a slice of cheese (Red Leicester is his favourite), some sliced cucumber or a chopped up tomato.
Unless it’s playgroup day which Reuben goes to between 1 and 3, we’ll either go out to town for shopping or an afternoon out for some fun. We go to the beach, explore nature reserves and find interesting places off the beaten track which is always good to letting Reuben burn some energy and learn about the world around him.
But even if we stay at home, Reuben loves going to collect his play shoes and get back into the garden. He loves to pull his wagons through the house, drop off a load of mega bricks on the patio, and collect random stones and toys. Sometimes he’ll head back into the house for some colouring and then he’s back outside pulling flower heads off.
2-3:00pm / NAP TIME
Reuben’s been having just a single nap for some time now. You know you’re approaching nap time when Reuben starts to get ridiculously hyper or tetchy, and it’s a dead give away when he’s rolling around on the living room rug! So a formula milk is made up, Reuben sits upon Dad’s or Mum’s knee and drinks some or most of it before laying back for a cuddle and snooze. Naptimes are always spent on mummy or daddy, very occasionally on the sofa beside us, and can last anywhere between an hour or three.
Naptime can be messed up if we go somewhere but he does tend to fall asleep in his car seat, so he’ll usually have half an hour here and there, and may stay asleep for a short while once back to the house.
4:00pm SNACK & PLAY
If it’s been a short nap (which it can be when away from home) Reuben will be hungry for some light snacks. He’ll happily chomp on a bread stick, baby rice cakes and cucumber slices, which I always carry in little tuppaware boxes in my bag. Oh and of course, there’s good old Pom Bears!
Snack times are always informal and ‘free range’. There’ll be lots of playing while munching; Reuben may pull out some electronic toys like kiddy laptops, manual toys like shape sorters and blocks and plenty books. Sometimes it’s back out into the garden for some fresh air and fun in his little man shed.
6:00pm TEA TIME
Reuben eats pretty much what we do now; anything from full roast chicken dinners to spaghetti and meatballs. Once Reuben’s dinner’s put out and cooled a little, it’s time to set up the high chair, which is taken into the living room with a big vinyl mat put down beneath. Once hands are cleaned it’s up into the chair for a mini meal like mum and dad. He loves using his fork but peas (which are his favourite) are tricky so he’s grabs them by the handful. We just need to watch when he’s done because food will be flung, whether it’s a chip or something nice and messy like pasta sauce. Lovely.
7:30pm BATH TIME
What used to be a time to bring the baby bath out is now an occasion for bath time with mum. It’s actually become our thing. I think partly it’s easier for me and partly because Reuben has so much fun being in the big bath and having someone to play with. We wash ourselves from head to toe which Reuben has begun mimicking with a sponge, and we’ll splash and sing silly songs, generally having fun. It’s a nice way to burn off some energy and wind down. Reuben’s too big for his hooded baby towels now so we’ve moved onto ponchos – much easier and more fun.
8:00pm MILK & CHILL
We run a late schedule in this house, so it isn’t quite bed time just yet. Once Reuben’s bathed it’s back downstairs for a cuddle and milk with Dad, although now Reuben’s coming toward a year and half we’re trying to cut this back so he’ll want to eat proper supper. So he’ll sit with Dad and have a story or two read, before watching some nursery rhyme songs on Youtube or a bit of Thomas or Miffy while playing with some of his quieter toys.
Suppertime is a bit hit or miss which is why we’re trying to forgo the milk. So shortly before going up to bed we’ll make up some porridge or Cheerios and maybe a bit of toast – all of which mostly gets left or turfed onto the floor because the more Reuben gets tired the more he gets hyper and silly. This is also the point when he’ll start biting my arms and pulling my hair out, thinking it’s the most fun ever. It’s not. He needs to get to bed.
10pm BED TIME
Once Reuben’s hugged Dad goodnight it’s off up the stairs we go to the bathroom for a clean nappy, teeth brushed, and his face, hands and feet freshened up for bed. If he’s got supper down his pyjamas I’ll change him into fresh ones, which now it’s summer is a vest onesie or shorts and t shirt. Then we head into the bedroom where we’ll switch on the nightlight and climb into bed. Reuben will cuddle up with a milk then pop his dummy in and slide into the middle of bed beside me. All being well he’ll be asleep in five or ten minutes but if he’s overtired he’ll roll around the bed, cuddle, throw a his dummy through the headboard and try talking for about forty minutes. But hey, it’s nice when we’re all (finally) asleep and snuggled up!
So that’s Reuben’s day pretty much in a nutshell. Looks simple enough, although we know it isn’t that straight forward. With six or seven nappy changes in a day, cups of water topped up and reminded of drinking on top of lost dummy dilemmas, refusal to go in a pushchair or trolley and random poonami incidents, we’re always on the go, always on our toes and always trying to translate those cries of ‘mam mam’ throughout the day. Early toddlerhood is challenging to the core, but you can guarantee a sprinkle of fun and a cuddle.
How does your toddler’s day look?