Involving your toddler in the kitchen is a great way to help them learn new skills and be more adventurous eaters. Here are 12 ways you can involve your toddler in the kitchen!
This past Saturday September 23rd was National Cook with your Kids Day. So I thought it was appropriate to talk a little bit about how I have been getting my almost 18 month old involved with helping me cook and prepare meals in the kitchen. As well as give you some tips on how to get your toddler involved in the kitchen.
Over the past few months I have been get him more “involved” whether it was just play with safe kitchen tools like spoons, help me push buttons on different kitchen equipment, or help me pour and mix ingredients together. I don’t think there is any specific age to get your toddler in the kitchen but the sooner the better. And there is no better time than now to start! The more comfortable your kids feel helping you in the kitchen (and you feel comfortable with having them in the kitchen) the more they can do to help you prepare and cook meals!
I will say cooking together is a bit messier and time consuming. But in the end it has been worth it. He has been more willing to try new foods, develop his fine motor skills, work on coordination and have some fun! There is so much to be gained by experimenting and playing in the kitchen that will set your child up for success especially when it comes to being more adventurous with trying new foods!
Here are 12 ways to get your toddler started in the kitchen! The tasks at the top are for younger toddlers around the age of 1, and progress in difficulty and can be added in as your toddler gets older and as you feel more comfortable.
- Play with non-breakable bowls, spoons, spatulas, whisks, measuring cups, and measuring spoons. This will introduce them to tools they will be using and figure out how they work. Or keep them busy while you are preparing or cooking food that they are unable to help with.
- Use their senses by smelling, touching and tasting different ingredients that you are using. Make sure to identify each ingredient or food you are using so they learn new words.
- Push buttons on blenders, food processors, slow cookers, and microwaves etc. (With assistance and parental guidance to make sure everyone is safe!)
- Pour dry or wet ingredients into bowls. (Avoid having them assist with anything hot that they could burn themselves on.)
- Wash fruits or vegetables.
- Sprinkle in spices, herbs, salt or pepper.
- Tear or ripe lettuce to put into a salad spinner. Then have them help you spin the lettuce!
- Whisk or stir batter or ingredients together.
- Retrieve ingredients.
- Identify specific ingredients you are using.
- Put away scraps of food in the trash and utensils in the dishwasher.
- Practice counting. Ask for 3 of a specific fruit or vegetable and have them count them out for you.
So far our son has been able to do most of these tasks, many with a large amount of assistance. For example we hold the measuring cup and pour it into a bowl together, or we will hold the spoon and stir together. As he gets older and his fine motor skills and coordination improve the more he will be able to do on his own. We are also still working on identifying different foods (although he’s got banana, cracker, milk and water down!), retrieving foods, and counting. He is also getting really good at being my taste tester!
We have also been working on safety. He seems to have a fascination with touching ovens, maybe because he sees use using it all the time. We let him know that the oven and stove are hot and that it could hurt if he touches it. I also explain that mommy and baba (a.k.a daddy) or other grown ups are the only ones who can touch the oven and are being safe by using spoons on the stove or pot holders to take things out of the oven. This is an on going process, but eventually he will get it!