Six Ways to Keep Toddlers Busy In The Kitchen While You Cook

When you're getting dinner on the table keep the kids busy with these six easy tips

When it comes to keeping kids out of your hair while you cook, people seem to belong to one of two camps. One side says do whatever you have to, just keep them content and occupied—even what they’re doing isn’t productive or helpful. The other side says the sooner you can get kids doing real tasks in the kitchen, the better for everyone involved. Regardless of which side you’re on, here are a few ideas to keep your curious and helpful preschooler happy and out of harm’s way while you’re cooking.

1. Invest in an inexpensive digital scale and have them assist with measuring ingredients for your recipe. Or just let them have fun experimenting with weighing dried beans or something else that’s relatively mess-free. You can also set out a couple of measuring cups or small bowls, and let your child pour the beans back and forth between them.

2. As your little one gets older, you might want to let him help unload the dishwasher. Maybe you limit him to putting away accessible and hard-to-break items like cutlery and plastics, or maybe you show him how to be careful with glass dishes and unload them into stacks on the counter. Either way it saves you some time and reminds him how important teamwork is.

3. A preschooler can also help set the table while you’re cooking. Don’t sweat whether things are perfectly straight (or one plate has two knives and the other has two forks), just appreciate the contribution to the family meal.

4. Repetitive tasks such as plucking grapes, peeling hardboiled eggs, assembling fruit or veggie kebabs and tearing lettuce for a salad are satisfying, engaging and take some time. And as a bonus, they really make food prep at lot easier for you!

5. How about letting her to create custom placemats? Set out some paper and markers or crayons and have her colour a sheet as a placemat for each member of the family. The results will give you a great discussion topic at suppertime. You can also make reusable placemats by laminating paper, then letting your kids draw on them with dry-erase markers.

6. The kitchen is probably the place you least mind those tiny bits of play dough that inevitably get everywhere. Give your little one carte blanche to try out different cooking tools with play dough – think garlic press, rolling pin, potato masher, muffin tins, cookie cutters, etc. (You might even be tempted to join in the fun.) Get her to soak and clean the utensils afterwards in a sink full of soapy water.

Sharing the kitchen with your kids can get a little stressful, but by planning ahead you’re bound to find a few ways to have fun as a family in there, too.

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