Toddler activities in the kitchen can keep your toddler entertained and occupied while you get a meal on the table. And they’re a great way to involved the kids in learning about food without the pressure that can come at the table.
Spending time together in the kitchen can be fun and educational at the same time. And they can provide something to do that also helps you to get a meal or snack on the table! I love the Montessori approach to letting kids do real work from an early age and I’ve found with my own girls that it makes them really eager to be involved.
There’s a lot of “do it myself” when you start this kids in the kitchen business, which is a wonderful thing because in a few years they really will be able to do it all themselves!
(Making salt dough is always a favorite activity!)
Kids in the Kitchen
I know that it can feel overwhelming to have the kids involved in the kitchen since things can get really messy really fast, but these are simple tasks that you can do one at a time to make it easier to try and see how things go. Start slow and add more activities once everyone is more used to it!
1. Chopping Foods
A crinkle cutter is a perfect first slicer for toddlers. It’s fairly easy to use and it can slice through soft foods like berries, cucumbers, potatoes, melon, and more. Set your toddler up with a cutting board, show them how to use it, and help along the way if needed.
2. Washing Produce
Most toddlers love water and the chance to play and do something useful is a win-win. If you have a learning tower, this is a perfect opportunity to use it. Move it by the sink, put the produce into a colander, and let the water trickle out. Give them a new, clean sponge and let them go to town washing. (You may want to check their work after!)
3. Stirring Batter
Whatever batter you have, stirring is a great toddler activity. We like to use a dough whisk, which is super sturdy, but a regular wooden spoon works well too. Use a very large bowl with a towel underneath to improve the odds of containing the mess.
3. Kneading Dough
This is messy, but so fun! Let your toddler help knead a batch of bread dough or pizza dough, or just give them a little piece to play with while you handle the rest. (This once kept one of my daughter’s occupied for 30 straight minutes!)
4. Cracking Eggs
This might sound crazy, but this is so satisfying for toddlers. Teach them to tap, tap, tap the egg gently on the side of a bowl or the counter and then the adult can take it and finish cracking. Work over a counter, and perhaps over a towel, in case they get a little over eager. (Okay, this might be one you save if messes make you anxious…)
5. Portioning Batter
When making muffins, you can let them spoon the batter into prepared muffin cups. When making baked donuts, you can let them squeeze the batter right in—or use the same zip top bag technique to drizzle frosting.
6. Painting Frosting
Whether with homemade cookies or store bought, using a clean paintbrush to add on icing is a super fun activity—and much easier for the kids than a knife!
7. Setting & Clearing the Table
Put one kiddo in charge of getting everyone a fork, another the napkins. Even little ones can handle small tasks like helping to set the table! Then, the simple ritual of bringing a plate or cup to the sink can help teach your toddler what’s expected of them at mealtimes and it can make the job of cleaning up a smidge easier for you. This one works best if you make it part of the routine most nights.
8. Rinsing Off their Plates
If you have a learning tower or a stool, the kids can rinse their plates, silverware, and cups under running water before loading the dishwasher.
9. Peeling Fruits and Veggies
Little hands can practice fine motor skills by peeling clementines. Just get the peel started for them and let them do the rest. You can also do the same with bananas.
10. Washing the Table
Give your toddler a clean sponge and let them wash the table—and then dry it off. You may be surprised to see how long they’ll do this toddler activity!
11. Putting Away Groceries
The next time you come home from the store, let your toddler help you unpack the bags and put away the groceries. This can help them to identify a wide range of foods and to feel some ownership over what you’ve purchased. It may get worse before it gets better since toddlers have a tendency to try to get everything out of the bags at once, but give your little guy a job and watch how eager they are to please!
12. Sweeping Up
Whether you have a little toddler-sized broom or a hand-held dust pan, sweeping up messes is a great toddler activity. Sure, they might not always be 100% accurate in their efforts, but it’s so rewarding for them to be able to try!
14. Loading the Blender
Whether for making smoothies or blender muffins, letting the kids help measure out ingredients to put into the blender is a super fun toddler activity. (My especially love to push the button! I have to keep it unplugged on the counter in case they get to it without me.)
15. Helping to Pack Lunches and Snacks
If you regularly have to pack toddler lunches or snacks, try letting your little one in on the action. They can choose from two options, fill containers, and snap lids. (You should probably expect them to nibble as they go!)
I’d love to hear what you like to do with your kids in the kitchen, so please comment below to share!
This post was first published October 2019.