It may sound like a strange idea to teach toddlers to cook, but the benefits of letting children in on our kitchen activities from an early age is priceless. How many adults do we know that don’t feel comfortable making eggs much less cooking a full meal? Over the years my love for cooking has grown, and I’m determined to teach my daughters (and sons, one day too, if I have them!) these basic life skills from a young age.
Check out Mamasana’s YouTube channel and scroll to the bottom of this post to see the video version!
Babies In The Kitchen
I bring my babies into the kitchen from the beginning and let them watch me cook from their bouncer seats. I talk to them about the different ingredients I’m using and what I’m making.
Once they’re old enough to sit up and watch from a high chair (usually when teething starts), I give them a carrot or piece of apple to play with and chomp on. I also let them play with my wooden spoons and measuring tools.
When my oldest daughter became a toddler I brought her up close or right on to the counter I was working on and started letting her help. My goal was to familiarize her from an early age with the experience of transforming basic ingredients into healthy, satisfying meals.
How Toddlers Can Help
Toddlers are very eager to help and we just need to have the patience to let them. It’ll be worth it! Let them try simple tasks:
- Wash fruit and vegetables
- Tear leafy greens into pieces
- Mash avocado and sweet potatoes
- Use a mortars & pestle to crush garlic
- Slice bananas, avocado, or butter with a butter knife
- Crack an egg
- Peel a hard-boiled egg
- Sprinkle salt, spices & herbs
- Add ingredients to the pan
- Mix batters, whisk eggs, stir ingredients
- Set the table
- Spray the counters and wipe them clean
- Wash dishes
Holding her hands, I also help my toddler use a peeler and butter knife for fruits and veggies. She is usually so excited to help that she does a good job listening to my instructions.
Food Toddlers Can Help Make
- Baked Apples
- Homemade Jello
Homemade Jello Recipe
- 1 T Pasture-Raised Gelatin Powder – This is the healthy brand of gelatin I use
- 1/4 cup cool water
- 1/4 cup very hot water
- 1½ cup of organic juice. If you have a juicer you can also make your own combination.
- Combine gelatin and 1/4 cup cool water in a large bowl or round or square baking dish.
Add 1/4 cup of very hot water and combine. The hot water helps dilute the gelatin well.
- Add the juice.
Cover and let harden in the fridge for a couple hours or overnight. Now you have healthy, homemade jello!
Benefits of Letting Your Toddler Help Cook
Sure, letting toddlers help may make any task less “efficient”, but the rewards of teaching them essential life skills is worth it. Also, I’ve found that letting my daughter help keeps her from getting fussy and bored while I cook. Win win.
Before they go out into the world I want my daughters (and sons, if I ever have them!) to be comfortable with basic life skills like cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, gardening, etc. I’ve had to learn some of these skills (like basic gardening and proper knife skills) later in life and my hope is that my children will be well equipped from a young age.
How do you let your child help in the kitchen? Any tips?