Working with a Toddler in the Kitchen

What about having a toddler in the kitchen? Is your toddler always under your feet while cooking or wanting to be picked up while making dinner?
working with toddlers
Children under 3 are too young to join in cooking activities; so, what can you do with your toddler?

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.

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Some Kids Cooking Ideas For the Under 3 Age Group:

Tips on Having a Toddler in the Kitchen

Photo of toddler
  1. 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 own dishes.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Teach them safety early. Teach your toddlers what is hot and what not to touch in the kitchen.

  5. Tasting good homemade food is a good start to learning and growing, also.

  6. 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 preparation.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 up high.

  9. 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 yet.

  10. Talk about your five senses while cooking. 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 while cooking, toddlers can learn a lot from these experiences.

Tips for Cooking with Toddlers

adding ingredients
For older toddlers age 2-3, let them "help" in the kitchen. Adding ingredients into a mixing bowl for you is a great helper activity.

toddler stirring
Stirring is a great activity when you have a toddler in the kitchen.

toddler pouring
Let them give you a hand in cooking projects.

proud toddler
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.

Toddler Meal Ideas

See our ideas and tips on Toddler Meal Ideas.
toddler meal ideas

Getting your Toddler involved in the Kitchen

Related Cooking Lesson Levels:

~Toddlers in the Kitchen, ~ Assistant Chefs, 3-6 year olds, ~Chef in Training, 7-11 year olds, ~Junior Chefs, 12-15 year olds, ~Senior Cooking Lessons

If your toddler is moving on to preschool age, visit our 3-6 year old age group for kids cooking lessons.

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