Toddlers love jumping in and “helping” whenever they can. I’m a big fan of bringing my kids into the kitchen early, and I start letting them do simple tasks as toddlers. My twins are 18 months old now, and they are enjoying spending more time hanging out in the kitchen with me and learning to do very simple tasks.
I’ve talked to many moms who are shocked that I let my kids start cooking so early. My oldest son is almost 13 now, and he can cook just about anything. It’s a skill that I know will do him good as he gets older . . . and it’s doing me a lot of good right now. He loves cooking dinner a few nights a week, and I definitely don’t mind the break.
Cooking with a toddler is a bit more work than just doing it yourself, but I promise it will pay off in the long run, and they will have so much fun with you. Here are a few of my favorite ways to get my toddlers involved in the kitchen:
Adding ingredients to a salad – Chop all your veggies up for a salad and have your toddler throw them into a salad bowl. My toddlers like the “one for the salad, one for me” method, but they have a blast (and I get some extra veggies in them).
Crushing ingredients in a freezer bag – Whenever I’m making something that requires food to be smashed up — think graham crackers for a pie crust or bananas for muffins — I stick the ingredients in a sealed freezer bag and let my toddlers go to town.
Cutting with an egg slicer – I used to think an egg slicer was a silly little one-trick kitchen tool, but with toddlers, it becomes the perfect kid-friendly cutting tool. An egg slicer will not only slice eggs, but strawberries, bananas, kiwis and more! My kids love helping out, and I don’t have to worry about them hurting themselves.
Get them up to the counter – I have used The Learning Tower with all my kids, and I was excited that they’ve recently redesigned it. The Learning Tower is essential a step-stool for kids, but it gets kids up to the counter without the risk of falling. My twins love climbing up into the Learning Tower to watch me work in the kitchen. Even if they aren’t helping with kitchen tasks, it helps them feel involved if they can see what I’m doing. One of their favorite things is to play with kitchen tools or play dough while I cook dinner.
Do you ever cook with your toddler? What are your favorite ways to let your toddler help out in the kitchen?