Getting Little Hands Busy in the Kitchen
Toddlers love to do things for themselves and see the results of their efforts. What better way to embrace this stage of growing up than getting them more involved in the hub of the household – the kitchen.
With plenty of interactive equipment and a constant flow of activity, the kitchen provides a number of opportunities to socialise, experiment and challenge their skills.
Check out these tips to get their little hands busy:
Getting prepared: To hold your toddler’s attention and keep stress levels low, it’s important to make the experience fun and snappy. Have all the ingredients and utensils ready to go before your eager toddler is at the kitchen bench.
Keep it to the basics: Mixing ingredients will be a joy for your toddler as they observe the changes in front of their eyes. Enrich their language and descriptive skills by encouraging them to describe what they are seeing.
The origin of food: Inquisitive toddlers will be keen to know what each ingredient is. This can be a chance to talk about where food comes from, and widen their understanding about how it came to be in their kitchen. Whether it came from your own garden or the local supermarket, there is a story behind every item.
Make it a special occasion: Celebrate your toddler’s efforts by sharing the meal (or even a playdough creation) with others. Whether it is preparing a make-believe tea party or inviting neighbours, friends and family around for a real feast, the experience will fill your toddler with pride and encourage them to get back in the kitchen again.
Praise for their efforts: As your toddler takes on each task at hand, encourage them for their efforts with specific praise to show them you are noticing, such as “you’ve made a playdough dog, great job” Try to focus on the positive rather than the mess or mistakes. Click here to read more about positive encouragement.
Give these creations a go next time you are in the kitchen together:
- Bucket of utensils: A few plastic bowls, pots and a wooden spoon will have your toddler role playing and using their imagination to create a magic potion.
- Gloop – A sensory overload of texture, gloop provides messy fun. You just need a large container, 2 cups of cornflour, 1 cup water and a few drops of food colouring then watch your toddler’s delight as they see the changes before their eyes and experience the sensations between their fingers - find out more here.
- Playdough – There are a number of recipes online (such as this), providing an easy way to get your toddler involved in mixing and kneading, before playing and creating.
- Water play – Pull up a chair to the kitchen sink, fill it with cold water, some detergent and plastic containers. Your toddler will have a ball filling, emptying and scrubbing each container. Find other water play activities here.
- Sandwiches or wraps – Have all the fillings ready, give your toddler some tongs and get them to compile their own sandwich or wrap to their liking. You could get them mashing up banana or avocado ready to spread on too.
- Smoothies – Your little one will love to prepare the fruit, pour in the milk, yoghurt and other favourite ingredients. And the best bit – listen and watch the blender [or smoothie maker] make some noise and churn it all up.
- Fruit salad – With supervision, threading fruit pieces onto kebab sticks or making a fruit face can be lots of fun.
Remember to stay safe in the kitchen - Identify hazards and ensure your toddler knows what they are. Standing on a chair, hot water, knives, kitchen appliances such as mixers and blenders are all potential accidents waiting to happen, so make sure you are extra careful in the workspace.