Doing just about anything with toddlers can be both a joy and a pain.

If your little ones enjoy helping, here are some tips for getting them involved in the kitchen.

They are amazing because they have their own little minds and want to do everything themselves.

If you plan on cooking with them, here are a few tips for cooking with toddlers.

cooking with toddlers top tips to get you started

Our Top Tips for Cooking with Toddlers

When you’ve found the perfect recipe to cook with your little ones make sure that you follow these top tips.

They help make baking and cooking together a real pleasure and your tots will grow up with fond memories of cooking at home as well as learn a valuable life skill.

Why not check out some of our Toddler Crafts for other activities to do at home with your toddlers.

1. Plan for Extra Time

While cooking can be time-consuming as an adult, just wait until you cook with toddlers.

Always give yourself quite a bit of extra time to complete a task.

Whether measuring, dumping, stirring, or trying to clean up a mess, remember that toddlers are learning and aren’t as coordinated as you are.

toddler making fairy cakes

We recommend starting with recipes that are quick and easy to make together and can be enjoyed fairly quickly after they are finished – why not try a simple fairy cake recipe.

2. Preparation

To save a little time, have all your ingredients and tools out and ready to go.

Not only will you make sure you have everything you need, but you won’t have to turn your back on toddlers in the kitchen while trying to locate something.

toddler filling up Jam tart pastry cases

Weigh out your ingredients before hand and place in bowls if they are lot of ingredients, use a visual recipe card like our Jam Tarts one for making it really easy to follow.

3. Set Rules

Some recipes require the use of knives or can openers or other items that can cause injury if handled improperly.

Make sure the toddlers know the rules (ie. only adults use knives, don’t mess with open cans, no pushing or fighting, etc.) and understand that they must listen well the entire time.

knife practice for toddlers with playdough food

Help them learn knife skills with some knife practice for toddlers using playdough play food.

4. Create a Place

Be sure your kids have safe stools or chairs to stand on.

Everyone needs to see into bowls or at least up on the counter.

cooking at the kitchen table with toddlers, preschoolers and older kids

If you’re comfortable with little ones sitting on the counter, go for it!

If you want more space then why not move your cooking to the kitchen table. It’s where our grandmas did the mixing and baking as worktops were limited in small kitchens.

Check out our Rice Krispie Nests which were one of our favourite kitchen table recipes.

5. Wash Hands

I try to make sure the kids know how important it is to wash hands and not lick their fingers.

toddler washing hands at the kitchen sink

Especially if we are making something that doesn’t get cooked afterwards!

6. Everyone Gets a Job

Look ahead at your recipe and plan out which child can handle which job.

This can cut back on arguments or fighting in the middle of the process.

toddler helping with salt

It can also save your sanity.

All of the recipes for cooking with kids on Rainy Day Mum have a function to print them out on the blue recipe cards.

You can then easily keep them aside and plan which jobs to do as you go along.

We are also making visual recipe cards that will be available to purchase in our store or to our cooking with tots subscribers each week.

7. Don’t Be Afraid of the Mess

Cooking with toddlers is messy, no way around it.

toddler squashing tomatoes with her hands for a recipe

It’s hard to give up control, especially when it can mean a lot of work after the task is complete. But remember the kids are learning – and learning a valuable skill!

When you teach them how to function in the kitchen and how to read a recipe, you are preparing them to be self-sufficient.

And if a gigantic mess is made, make sure you include them in the cleanup!

See our top tips for getting your toddlers to clean up to help you on your way.

8. FINALLY Relax And Enjoy!

Messes can be cleaned.

toddler and preschooler cooking together smashing raspberries

It’s worth having a fun experience with your toddlers, even if it means a little extra elbow grease.

This is one of my favorite tips for cooking with kids!

Not only will including your toddlers in the kitchen boost their self-esteem, but you will also be teaching them valuable life skills that can benefit them their whole lives.

making sandwiches together

So let go a little and let everyone get involved.

Our Top 3 Recipes to Get you Started

Have we inspired you to get started? Then why not try these 3 easy recipes to cook together next

rock cakes to cook with kids
squashed tomato pasta for cooking with toddlers
easy bread loaf recipe to cook with kids at home

What are some tips you have for cooking with toddlers!

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Author
Cerys Parker

Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, high school teacher and mum. Realising that life doesn't have to be put on hold and you don't just have to survive whilst the kids are young she shares ideas to inspire you to LIVE with the kids, with activities to do together, recipes to cook and enjoy and family travel to make memories to last a lifetime.

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