Kitchen is a sacred place in every home. It is a very busy place, where on daily basis various meals are prepared. Apart from cooking fun, also most of cleaning happens here on a daily basis. So maybe you wonder – why would you like toddlers to have full access to the kitchen, where they can make the biggest mess possible. Because this is the place where you can observe their growth in self-confidence the most at their young age. I have written already about importance of independence in children, but this is the hot spot to nurture it.
What you need to do first – is to lower your expectations, you can not expect that with your young toddler helping you around you will finish the same fast or the same clean. But with time you will:) Think of what skills are included in preparing certain meal – e.g. mixing, peeling, pouring liquids, measuring, cutting, etc.
With very young toddlers – such as 12 months, you should really not have high expectations. My son who is 13 months at the moment is mostly into chewing vegetables or fruits that his sister cuts. But that is also very important – he is observing and absorbing the environment. All of you who have siblings know that the younger one always would like doing the same as the older – that’s why for example when Natalia is preparing muffin mixture, I ll give a tiny bowl to Miro as well so he can mix with his spoon. You do not need to wait that your child is young toddler – Miro was with us in the kitchen as a baby, exploring various cooking tools (on the picture below with 8 months):)
In order to motivate your young toddlers to participate in the kitchen – you should not give them immediately tough stuff to peel, you do not start from peeling a potato (sometimes it is still hard for me:P). But a courgette is a perfect candidate, Natalia was peeling and cutting courgettes with wavy chopper with 18 months. Another important thing is that you should have kids size tools. In the picture below you can see our current kids kitchen equipment:
For example apple slicing has been a hit in our family – and introducing this tool caused that Natalia finally started eating more apples. Just one hint – it is very hard for your toddler to do it all in one goal (I learned it the hard way), but if you instruct to first cut the apple in half and then slice – than it is easily doable.
On the photo you can see a snail tool and wonder what it is – exactly the same thing I wondered when I got it four years ago as a Christmas present. It is an orange peeler – I did not really use it myself, but I gave it out of curiosity to Natalia to try to and she loved it! I always had big nails so for me it is never a problem to peel an orange, but for toddlers it can be quite challenging. I am so happy I did not throw it to garbage long time ago, as it finally found its daily purpose:D
Another recent hit in our family is the hand mixer. I never had one when I was growing up, but decided to purchase it as an experiment for Natalia and it was such a great decision. She loves this tool. It is the first thing she shows to her friends that come over, and if Natalia would make a menu for day it would definitely need to include preparation with a hand mixer.
Hope you enjoy your time with your toddlers in kitchen:)
What is your toddler’s favorite kitchen tool and recipe?