Cooking with Toddlers: Tools and Tasks

Staying at home with small kiddos has plenty of challenges. Some days we make barely make it to nap time. That’s why I like to blend the tasks I need to get done with toddler activity time. One easy way to do this is making cooking time an activity. Sound like you’re adding more stress to the equation? I hear you. However, usually when I tune in and spend a little time with the toddler one on one, her behavior improves dramatically and makes my life easier. Having her roll and squeeze lemons is much easier than telling her “I’m almost done, I’ll play with you in a minute” 800 times.

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On that note, I have found having the correct tools for the job extremely helpful.  I have included affiliate links for my favorite products, which means if you buy anything using my links, I will get a small kickback.

Mini Whisk

We use these for everything from beating eggs to mixing salad dressings. Stirring is so much more exciting when the whisk is involved.

Mini Spatula

I love how brightly colored these mini spatulas are. They are perfect for little hands and help build dexterity. My toddler loves helping me scrape the sides of bowls of batter, spread peanut butter on her toast, and decorate Christmas cookies.

Mini Tongs

Your kiddo’s kindergarten teacher will love you for adding these to your toddler’s cooking utensils. They help build grip for holding writing utensils. Plus, your toddler will love the challenge of building a new skill. Even before they can really “help” with dinner, you can set a bowl of grapes or whatever you are making for dinner for them to transfer to another bowl. Dinnertime activity.

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Babies

I started having my babies in the kitchen as soon as possible, so they got used to the environment. Right now the three month old loves watching me run around before dinner time while sitting in her rocking bouncer. Get creative! If you have sitting age babies, try using anything you have lying around as a toy. Measuring spoons, metal or plastic bowls, kitchen towels. They also love things like rice in a (well-sealed) water bottle, spice jars, and small potatoes.

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Toddlers

This is where things really get fun. I highly recommend learning towers like this one to help get your toddler closer to the counter while remaining safe. Our kitchen has a neat set up where there is a large, rimmed counter space that she can sit on while she helps me. Toddlers can do almost anything in the kitchen. Great tasks to start them off on include rolling/squeezing lemons, spreading butter/peanut butter/jam on bread, pouring, scooping, the list is endless. As they build confidence in the kitchen, the tasks they can do evolve. I let Eloise do almost anything but use the dials on the gas stove. She’s even cracking eggs these days (in a separate bowl in case the whole thing gets smashed-then you can pick out the shells). Knives like these are helpful in teaching them how to use a knife properly. They are plastic, but the serration helps them be able to cut things like apple slices, bell peppers, and bread.

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I hope these tips help you get your kiddos in the kitchen and helps you make it to nap time. Let it be simple.

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