Inside: Let’s create a simple, screen-free 2 year old morning routine using my go-to toddler morning activities.
The morning is one of the trickiest times to be home with a toddler.
Do you wake up earlier? Allow TV? Get yourself ready first? Have them come into your bed?
Depending on your toddler’s temperament in the morning, it can be hard to decide how to start the day.
While all kids are different, today I’m going to share my simple morning routine for a 2 year old at home that can be adapted for any child.
I’ve used some version of this routine with each of my 3 kids (who are all very different!)
What is a good morning routine for toddlers?
A “good” morning routine is one that works for you and your toddler (and other children if applicable).
While everyone’s routine will be different, a “good” morning routine is consistent.
If you want your toddler to do an activity or play while you make breakfast, then that’s the routine that needs to be practiced every day until it becomes a habit.
The most important thing to remember is that it’s never too late to adopt a new routine, especially if your current routine isn’t working anymore.
For example: let’s say your toddler has been watching TV in the morning but now you feel like that’s not working anymore. It’s never too late to decide that Monday morning you’ll implement a new routine.
Or let’s say you’ve been waking up whenever your toddler gets up but you’re constantly feeling behind. It’s never too late to create a new routine for yourself, where you wake up even 10 minutes before them in order to get yourself dressed and ready.
What can I do with my 2 year old in the morning?
Whether or not you use the TV in the morning is up to you!
Personally, I’ve found that putting the TV on in the morning kind of sets the day in a backwards motion.
It’s hard for my kids to find their groove with play after watching TV first thing.
Instead, I like to save TV time for the afternoon: either after naptime or while I’m making dinner.
That being said, there’s always a time when TV in the morning is necessary and helpful (hello, morning sickness!)
- Now, whether you wake up with your toddler or before them, you’ll still need a solid morning routine (AKA your roadmap) for how to start the day.
- This routine will answer the “what can I do with my 2 year old in the morning?” question.
- And the best part is, once you get into a flow with your routine, it becomes second nature – one less thing to think about!
By the way, if we haven’t “met” on IG, Hi! I’m Marla. I’m a SAHM to 3 little girls + 3 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
If you’re struggling with being a stay at home mom, you’ll absolutely love my Ultimate Stay at Home Mom Course – this course will help you get your stay at home mom life on track!
Inside the course you’ll learn exactly how to establish systems and routines so that your home operates with ease.
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2 Year Old Morning Routine
Read my full, detailed post on a day in the life with a 2 year old here: My 2 Year Old’s Daily Routine
The components of your toddler’s morning routine should be simple:
- Wake up
- Potty or diaper change
- Morning activity & snack (more on this below)
- Eat breakfast
- Get ready for the day
The morning activity & snack component have become an essential part of our mornings as it allows for several things:
- I can start breakfast while my toddler plays
- She eats a small snack (like a smoothie pouch or a muffin, freeze-dried fruit, etc.) to tide her over while I cook
- The skill of independent play is developed and practiced daily
- There is something for my toddler to focus on instead of begging for TV or my attention
What if my toddler won’t play without me?
This is the million dollar question, isn’t it?
As mentioned above, it’s never too late to change up your routine, however, new routines take time.
If your toddler is not used to playing alone, or they expect to watch TV every morning, a new routine where they are now expected to play independently, without TV, will most likely be difficult at first.
Here are some suggestions to make the transition easier:
- Include something new in their morning activity (doesn’t have to be expensive: something from Five Below or Dollar Tree!)
- Use a Tonies Box (this thing is life-changing! It includes favorite, well-known characters who sing songs and tell stories. Think: Pixar Cars, Olaf, Hungry Caterpillar, etc.) This helps aid independent play as they are listening to a story or music as they play.
- Start out implementing your new routine by sitting and playing together. Let’s say you decide to try a morning basket. The first week, make your coffee, sit with them and go through the morning basket alongside them. Practice the routine until it sticks.
- Decide on the steps of your morning routine
- Practice the routine daily with your toddler
Toddler Morning Activities
Here’s the second piece to the puzzle: morning activities for toddlers that will keep them entertained while you get the day started.
- As mentioned above, not all children will play independently at first, as this is a skill that takes time to develop
- It’s also worth noting that each child will play for a different amount of time
- Some 2 year olds may sit and do their morning activity for 5 minutes and some may play for 15 minutes
The idea is that once play is ignited, even if they are bored with whatever activity you have set out for them, they may continue to develop ideas and play on their own with something else.
That being said, any amount of independent play time is a win! 5 minutes is better than no minutes at all, and ideally it builds over time.
Below are my Top 4 favorite “set ups” for the morning
- These activities are great starting around 2 years old
- Adjust the ideas as necessary to fit your toddler’s age, ability, and interests
- Keep it simple enough that you can set this up before your toddler wakes up in the morning or at night after they go to sleep
1. Morning Baskets
The morning basket is one of my favorite play invitations. The concept is simple: fill the basket with a variety of activities for your toddler to work through.
- Start with a basket (mine is from Target)
- Add 3-4 board books
- Add a hands-on activity and/or learning activity
- Add a coloring book + crayons or colored pencils
Ideas of what to include:
- Lift the flap books
- Dot markers & blank paper
- Seasonal stickers
- Finger puppets
- Magnetic dress up dolls
- Block / board puzzles
- Color Wonder
- Animal figurines
- Magnetic tiles
- Prep the basket the night before
- Offer a small snack (like a yogurt or smoothie pouch, dry cereal or a muffin) for them to eat while you prep breakfast and they play with their morning basket
- Use the same morning basket all week and change up the books or one of the activities each day
- Leave the basket out on their toddler table all day (if you think they’ll come back to it) or set it aside for the next day
- Make a themed basket (especially helpful if you’re doing preschool at home): farm, bugs, dinosaurs, construction, transportation, etc.
2. Busy Boxes
A busy box or a busy bin, is a small plastic box (with a lid) where you can store “one day’s” worth of toys and activities for your toddler.
“One day’s” worth doesn’t mean a full day of play, but just for that morning (or maybe later in the day if they come back to it!)
Here’s how to do it:
- Set out 5 small bins (Monday-Friday) and add toys such as blocks, vehicles, figurines, puzzles, small games, and activities such as coloring or stickers to each bin.
- Label each bin Monday through Friday and store out of sight until ready to use!
- In the morning, set out their busy bin on their toddler table, at the kitchen table or on a low coffee table where they can sit and play.
3. Toddler Table Setup
If you follow me on Instagram then you have probably seen this table every single day for the past year.
- It’s an Ikea lookalike (and it’s easy to order on Amazon!).
- Inside the table are bins for sensory play
- The tabletop is reversible with a chalkboard on the other side.
Any little toddler table you have is great for this idea, and if you don’t have one, this is the one I have and highly recommend!
For this idea, instead of prepping busy boxes or containing items in a morning basket, the setup is simply displayed on the table itself.
Below is a sample of how you can set up their table.
What to include on the table:
- Coloring (Color Wonder, Water Wow, crayons/colored pencils/small markers, etc.)
- Reading (3-5 board books)
- Listening (Tonies box: optional but so, so great for encouraging them to sit and play – it’s the pink box in the pictures)
- Building (a puzzle, Duplos, blocks, magnetic tiles, etc.)
These are just a few ideas. You know your toddler best, so try to incorporate things that will interest them!
4. Book Bin
This is as simple as it sounds!
- Take a plastic bin or a basket, whatever you have, and fill it with 10 books (board books, lift-the-flap, touch & feel, their favorite characters, etc.)
- Set the bin on the couch
- When your toddler wakes up they may discover the bin of books, sit down and flip through them!
- I like to sit with my toddler and read books while I drink my coffee
This morning activity is great for toddlers who crave connection first thing in the morning, and especially if you feel you don’t have the bandwidth to pull anything else together.
A book bin is also great if you need to sit and feed the baby while reading to your toddler.
The hope is that after that connection time with you, they’re ready to play while you make breakfast and get the day started.
Common Questions on Toddler Morning Activities
Q: Do I need to do a new idea each day?
A: Please don’t feel like you need to prep something different for each day. Unless you decide to make a week’s worth of busy boxes (and the point of that is to prep them all in advance and pull them out each day). But don’t drive yourself crazy feeling like you need a morning basket one day, busy bin the next and a play table setup, etc. Pick the idea you think will work best for your child and test it out.
Q: Can I leave the same morning basket out all week?
A: Let’s say you set up a morning basket for Monday, you may find that your toddler is really into it and wants to keep coming back to it to play all week. Or maybe they didn’t get to explore everything in it, so the next day they’re ready to come back to it. If you can tell they are bored with it, try removing the basket from their play area after breakfast time is over. Add a new book or switch out one of the activities to revamp the basket for later in the week.
Q: Do I need to go out and buy anything?
A: If you don’t have any bins or baskets you can use for the busy boxes or morning baskets, I’d say that’s a great place to start. My second recommendation would be to invest in a toddler table if you don’t have one. It’s great for so many things and really gives them their own workspace. As far as what you include in the baskets or in your table setup, I encourage you to “shop” around your house. When old toys are presented in a new way, it’s magical!! I always save everything to my Amazon shop in case you want to recreate any of the setups I’ve shared, but really, try to use what you have first!
Visit my Amazon Shop for more ideas & inspiration for what to include in your toddler’s morning activities!
- Decide on your morning routine
- Have a space for your toddler to do their morning activities
- Pick one of the ideas shared in this post to get started!
What to Read Next:
- My SAHM Morning Routine
- 2 Year Old Sleep Schedule (with 1 nap or no nap)
- Preschool Activities at Home for 3 Year Olds
- Morning Baskets for Preschoolers
- How to Organize & Store Preschool Activity Supplies