How to get your kids helping in the kitchen - Toddlers can make a contribution in the kitchen, helping them to build confidence and cooking skills while working alongside mom or dad. This list of simple tasks will make them feel included.
My toddler likes to cook.
She doesn't care whether she's cooking in her play 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 Learning Tower 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.
10 things toddlers can do in the kitchen
- 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.
- Ask your toddler to put trash in the garbage can or compost bucket.
- Give her a spray bottle of water (or water and dish detergent) and a towel, and let her clean up after you.
- Ask hr to tear or break food into pieces. (This works well with things like spinach, lettuce, and mushrooms.)
- Ask her to transfer food from one container to another. Grace loves to put chopped food into a baking dish.
- Ask her to rinse or wash tools in the sink. Never give her sharp tools!
- If she can reach the faucet, ask her to rinse or wash fruits and vegetables. If she can't reach the faucet, give her a dishpan about half full of water with a splash of vinegar, and have her wash them in the dishpan.
- Ask your toddler to help set and clear the table. She is big enough to learn the right way to do this with a fork, knife, spoon, and napkin.
- 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 real 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.
Cooking with toddlers is messy and can be frustrating, but it will pay dividends in a few months when she is able to do real work to help you.