If you’re looking for some great ways to keep babies and toddlers busy in the kitchen, and interested in the food that we eat, have a look at our guest blog from Amy, who writes about her parenting journey in her blog at Mothering A Rainbow.
“I don’t know about you but in our house every time we go into the kitchen E (aged 4) seems to follow – she’s done this from the minute she could crawl confidently and would sit watching us. She wasn’t always just happy to sit and watch though, so I had to get creative and find ways to keep her entertained while I was busy.
From around 2 years of age we’ve used doddl cutlery with E, letting her develop her skills while feeding herself and eventually moving on and using the doddl knife to develop the skills she needs to cut her own food. Working with children for over 10 years has shown me that as parents we do so much for our children and don’t see the impact of it. So many children start school not being able to cut up their own school dinners, and I knew the doddl cutlery would help us prepare E for big school and give her that bit more independence.
Here are 5 ways to keep babies and small toddlers busy in the kitchen:
1) Big Band
One of E’s favourite things to do was to empty our pots and pan cupboard and make a noise. She loved exploring the different sounds and finding which utensils made the loudest noise.
2) Make use of the fridge
We’ve always had magnets on the fridge for E to play with when we are in the kitchen. But the best Mum hack I found was that a whiteboard pen worked amazingly on our white fridge! E would spend ages sat mark-making and I knew it would be easy to wipe away when she was finished.
3) Sensory Bottles
Sensory bottles don’t have to be expensive – you can make your own quite easily with everyday kitchen items and they keep the littles ones entertained for hours! Kids love to shake and make a noise. So why not add pasta, rice or a mixture of water, food colouring and baby oil to create a lava-lamp type sensory bottle.
4) Fine Motor Fun
There are lots of ways to help develop a young child’s fine motor skills with everyday items in the kitchen. As a baby/toddler E would sit and pull pipe cleaners out of a colander (as she got older she also tried poking them back in the holes). She would use sensory scarves wrapped around a whisk and explored how to untangle it. We also liked to thread dry pasta shapes on to pipe cleaners.
5) Water Play
Honestly – I’m not a big fan of water play! We have a small kitchen and E has always liked to splash and make a puddle around her – however this was always a win. Water play meant E would sit and play completely independently while I could focus on the cooking. She loved having little pots to pour the water and I’d mix in some food colouring too. Once I’d finished cooking she used to like “helping” me wash up and I’d give her some plastic plates and cutlery to wash up in her own bowl.
Moving on up…
Now E is older she loves to get stuck in with helping us. It doesn’t take long for her to follow us in to the kitchen, she’s such a curious child and is afraid of missing something. It’s a beautiful way for us to bond with her as she has started helping us prep meals and she loves baking too! Apparently kids who learn to cook from an early age are less likely to be fussy eaters and more likely to try new foods – so I think it’s important to let her get hands on when it’s safe to do so.
Here are some of the ways young children can begin to help:
They’ve mastered the “drum kit” and now it’s time to show them what the wooden spoon and plastic bowl is actually for. Kids love to stir, whisk and fold ingredients together (although in my experience more usually ends up out of the bowl than in it!)
2) Measuring and Pouring
They may still be too young to get precise measurements, but they can measure out herbs and spices on to a spoon or use measuring cups. Why not let them pour the dry or wet ingredients in to soups, stews and baked goods too!
Using a plastic potato masher is a great way to get kids involved in cooking. It’s easy to mash lots of food for different recipes – potatoes, bananas, carrots, peaches, avocado. If you want them to eat more veg – give them a masher and mash it up with something else they love. Or use a doddl fork – brilliant for mashing up small amounts of food!
Cooking with kids is bound to get a little (okay a lot!) messy. So it’s a good time to teach them that they need to clean up after themselves. Let them wipe the spills over, wash up the mixing bowl and have a little fun in the bubbles at the same time!
5) Sampling the goods!
I’ve definitely left the best till last. Who hasn’t licked the mixing bowl clean after a baking session? Or taken a chunk of cheese while grating it? It gives them the confidence to try these foods once they are cooked. And it also gives you another chance to show them which foods are safe to eat raw and which aren’t.”
Do you have any other tips and ideas of ways to keep get your babies and toddlers busy in the kitchen? Let us know @doddl!