Is your toddler always under your feet while cooking or wanting to
be picked up while making dinner?
Children under 3 are too young to join in cooking activities; so,
what can you do with your toddler in the kitchen?
I have some ideas to help you remain sane and some ideas for
your toddler to feel involved, also. I always tried to involve my
toddlers in whatever they were interested in. When I was cooking
dinner they were playing near by or in the high chair watching me
and playing with spoons, bowls or plastic dishes.
Planned Kids Cooking Curriculum
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Some Kids Cooking Ideas For the Under 3 Age Group:
Tips on Having a Toddler in the Kitchen
Leave plastic containers, inexpensive pans, plastic silverware
and wooden spoons on a bottom shelf in your kitchen.
Toddlers will learn the kitchen isn't totally off limits to them
and while you are cooking they can join in the fun with their
Buy a kitchen play set with dishes and play food, or
create your own. Collect cardboard food boxes and plastic
containers. You can even build a play kitchen with a large
cardboard box and your imagination. Get down and play cooking or
grocery shopping with your toddler.
Help them learn about cooking by example. Show them
the bubbles (at a far distance) boiling in a saucepan or your
messy hands while kneading dough. Put them in their high chair
while you are cooking and let them look at a different angle.
Teach them kitchen safety early. Teach your toddlers
what is hot and what not to touch in the kitchen.
Tasting good homemade food is a good start to learning
and growing in the kitchen, also.
Let them eat with the rest of the family. If they
can't wait for a late dinnertime give them a later snack to tide
them over. Hungry toddlers make for a more stressful dinner
Teach them new words while you are cooking. The names
of fruits, vegetables or items you are using in the kitchen are
a good start. Even if they are too little to understand what you
are saying, they will understand you are talking to them. And
even though you are busy cooking they will feel involved in what
you are doing.
Protect your curious toddler from the dangers in the
kitchen. Cook on the back burner or at least make sure the
handles to pots and pans are facing towards the back. Have child
locks under the kitchen sink. Place breakable dishes and glasses
Make snacks accessible or at least in the same location
so your toddler will know how to communicate to you that they
are hungry. This is especially important when they can't talk
Talk about your five senses in the kitchen. Point out
that wonderful smell is dinner cooking in the oven, which they
can smell with their nose. Let your toddler feel how soft flour
is, compared to coarse sugar.
Help your toddler in the kitchen learn that the kitchen isn't a bad
place for them. Encourage them to be independent and explore but
always remember safety first. If watched carefully in the kitchen
while cooking, toddlers can learn a lot from these experiences.
For older toddlers age 2-3, let them “help” in the kitchen.
Adding ingredients into a mixing bowl for you is a great helper
Stirring is a great activity when you have a toddler in the
Let them give you a hand in cooking projects.
The joy and the smiles you will get in the kitchen will be worth
the extra effort. Your toddler will feel important and proud of
being able to help mom or dad in the kitchen.