4 Ways to Involve Your Toddler in Cooking

cupcakes
Image via Mindi Stavish

Toddlers can be picky, picky eaters.  Getting your child involved in all steps of the food process can help them be more adventurous during mealtime. Your aim should be to make them care about and value what they eat.   A word of caution – when cooking with a toddler your kitchen will not remain clean.  If you are not a fan of huge messes step back and remind yourself it's nothing a broom and mop can't fix.  Here are fun ways to get your toddler's hands busy in the kitchen.

boy playing rice shaker
Image via Mindi Stavish

1.   Musical Interlude – Before you start cooking, get your child excited about being in the kitchen by creating a band.  Use boxes of macaroni and cheese as shakers, and pots and spoons as drums.

{ MORE:  Your Child and Food }

 

playing in flour
Image via Mindi Stavish
When I'm trying to get dinner finished twenty minutes is the difference between a well balanced meal or overcooked chicken and rice. 

2.  Flour Fun – The best way to get your child excited about cooking and food is to give them the tools to make a mess.  My two-year-old loves can be occupied with a measuring cup and a bowl of flour for at least twenty minutes.    

boy playing with dish bubbles in sink
Image via Mindi Stavish

3.  Water Play- When my toddler hears running water he drops everything he is doing and hustles to find the water no matter if it's the bathtub, shower, or faucet.  About a month ago, he started pushing a chair up to the kitchen sink, wanting to help “wash” the dishes.  So now I fill up the sink with warm soapy water, hand him a cup and sponge, and let him wash away.   Instant fun and an easy way to wash your kitchen floor too!

{ MORE:  Recipes for Toddlers }

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Image via Mindi Stavish
Image via Mindi Stavish

4.  Sous Chef Duties – There are so many different “helper” tasks you can give your child, while you are cooking breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  I typically choose one or two activities for my son to participate in, which is more than enough for his short attention span.  

  • Scrambling the eggs
  • Dumping pre-measured ingredients into a bowl
  • Sprinkling the cheese
  • Seasoning the food with spices
  • Brushing the oil onto the fish
  • Sifting the flour
  • Stirring the batter
  • Scraping down the batter bowl
  • Punching down the pizza dough
  • Smashing up the crackers
  • Rolling the cookie or pizza dough
  • Decorating the cupcakes with sprinkles 
  • Putting the toppings on a pizza

How do you include your child in the kitchen during meal preparation?  

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4 Ways to Involve Your Toddler in Cooking

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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1 comment

  1. Crystal says:

    when a liitle’un shows interest in washing dishes I think it is worthwhile to let them experiment a little more than just soapy water and a sponge. put in plastic containers and spoons, whatever else is safe, and let them get a real feel for cleaning. That can open all sorts of possibilities for future eagerness in helping with necessary chores. The perception that chores are a drag could be altered to a perception that accomplishing tasks and fulfilling responsibilities are part of a satisfying life. (though that drag feeling gets to us all sometimes, we can strive to feel better about our achievements).

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