My kid likes to cook.
She doesn’t care whether she’s cooking in her own kitchen, or if she’s cooking in my kitchen. She just likes to cook.
Whenever I’m in the kitchen, trying to prepare food, Grace wants to help. She pushes her step stool up to whatever surface I’m working at, and she sidles right up next to me. If I’m sifting flour, she sifts flour. If I’m chopping onions, she wants to chop onions.
Every parent knows that all jobs are easier without the help of an eager toddler.
I let her help anyway. It builds her self esteem and her self confidence, and someday, she’ll actually be a productive helper.
Today, she might flip flour all over me and the counter, but next month, maybe she’ll push it down through the sieve. It’s a work in progress.
I think it’s important to give toddlers jobs they can do (or at least believe they can do) safely. If you guarantee their success in the kitchen now, they’ll take more risks and enjoy cooking more later.
Try some or all of the following to get your toddler involved:
- Ask your toddler to give you items from a cabinet or drawer and then to put them back.
- Give your toddler supplies that are similar to yours and let her mimic you. In the picture above, I was sifting flour, and Grace was tossing flour in a small bowl. It was similar enough for her to feel like she was doing something valuable.
- Put trash in the garbage can.
- Give her a spray bottle of water (or water and dish detergent) and a towel, and let her clean up after you.
- Tear or break food into pieces. (This works well with things like spinach, lettuce, and mushrooms.)
- Transfer food from one container to another. Grace loves to put chopped food into a baking dish.
- Rinse or wash tools in the sink. Never give her sharp tools!
- Rinse or wash fruits and vegetables.
- Ask your toddler to help set and clear the table.
- If all else fails, try giving her pots to drum with a wooden spoon or containers full of water to splash in. They’ll keep her busy and let you get some work done.
Remember that your toddler has a very short attention span. She may want to play with the magnets and come back to cook several times. Don’t get frustrated with her; just go with the flow.
© 2009 – 2017, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.