Getting dinner on the table was a lot easier when Audrey was a baby. A highchair and a few toys were all I needed. Then she became a toddler and kitchen creativity became key. How do you keep little ones in the kitchen and safe, but also out of the way? By taking advantage of her curiosity, imagination and desire for sensory stimulation, I have put together tried and true ways that keep her entertained and engaged while I prep, dice, sauté and roast. And sometimes even clean.
Top Ten Ways To Keep Your Toddler Entertained While You Cook:
- Get Cooking: Have your little one pick leaves off herbs, snap the ends off green beans, pull husks off corn, wash veggies in a colander, etc… or simply let them measure and pour ingredients for you.
- Taste-Test: I always let Audrey sample what I’m making. Pull a high chair/kitchen stand up next to where you’re working and give a taste of whatever you’re preparing.
- Stacking Measuring Cups and Spoons: Just like stacking rings and nesting cups, stacking measuring cups and spoons teach matching based on color, size and symmetry.
- A Placemat with a Purpose: Reusable coloring placemats like these can do everything from help teach the alphabet to nurture your little ones inner artist – plus, they are easily wiped clean with the swipe of a wet rag.
- Table Art-Station: Set up an art station at the table – play doh, crayons, markers, stickers, and paper are some of our favorites.
- Music Time: The classic pot, pan, wooden spoon music extravaganza is as tried and true as they come. And Audrey seems to never tire of this.
- Sensory Bowls: Create sensory bowls with items like dried beans or pasta, oatmeal and rice – for younger babies do this in bowls or containers with lids and let them shake away. For older kids, let them pour items in and out of the bowls to strengthen motor and cognitive skills while having fun.
- Salad Snack: Let this be a time to have your kiddo snack on salad items such as sliced tomatoes, shredded carrots or diced avocado. We’re huge fans of the little hand salad.
- Mixing Food in a Bowl: Add various baking ingredients (flour, sugar, water, oil) to a large bowl – hand it over along with a spoon or a whisk and ask you toddler to stir it up. It might be a little messy, but it will promote bonding and togetherness in the kitchen.
- Invest in a play-kitchen and/or play-food so your little one can prepare dinner alongside you. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what most toddlers want: to be just like Mommy and Daddy?