Be battle ready
Choose a good time. Not when everyone is hungry and tired.
The best time to cook is when both you and your toddler are in a good mood. After nap time or your first activity in the morning are good times.
Create a kid friendly cooking station
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy but you need a space that is safe for them and you to work in. You can pull the high chair up to the kitchen bench or do the activity at the dining table.
How to cook with your toddler without having a meltdown (them or you)
Gather all your gear and ingredients before inviting your toddler to get involved. This way they aren’t waiting for you to find the mixing spoon, somewhere in the deep dark depth of your cupboard. A waiting toddler is going to quickly turn into a cranky toddler, and nobody wants that!
How to avoid the ‘Don’t eat that!’ conundrum
As you know toddlers love to put everything in their mouth (well mine does anyway!), so when baking with a toddler you want to make sure it’s safe for them to eat the ingredients that you are using.
I know, I know that back in the day we may have eaten cake batter with raw egg in it… but on reflection you might not want your toddler to eat raw egg (I know that I don’t). From both a grossness factor and also they might get sick, from salmonella poisoning. Oh dear!
Make something easy
As your toddler only has a short attention span, you want the cook to go quick and smooth. Use only a few ingredients and a few steps.
Here’s seven ideas that fit the bill.
- Fork biscuits – Only three ingredients and super easy. You can also make a chocolate version of these by adding 2 table spoons of cocoa powder.
- Traffic light scones – a colourful version of the classic scone, using veggies for colouring.
- Decorate cookies – you can skip the baking and just go straight to the decorating by using store brought cookies and then go crazy with icing and sprinkles.
- Mini muffin pizzas – use english muffins as a base and get your toddler to decorate with pizza toppings. Pop under the grill and then eat, yum.
- Sandwich fillings
- Yoghurt ice blocks – great activity to cool down on a warm day
- Muffin box mix – all the measuring of the dry ingredients is done. Hooray! If the box calls for egg you can substitute with one of the following:
- 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/4 cup yoghurt
- 1/4 banana.
Cooking seriously boosts your toddlers brain power
Not only is cooking a fun activity to do with your toddler, It also boosts their brain power by doubling-up as a sensory play.
What is sensory play?
It is play that uses the five senses – touch, sight, smell, sound and taste.
The benefits of sensory play include:
- helps toddlers gain a better understanding of the world around them and how different textures feel and move – for example dry ingredients vs a sticky batter
- enhances memory
- calms anxious or frustrated children
- aids the development of fine motor skills.
To further enhance the sensory play and your toddlers language development you can ask questions like:
- ‘How does it feel?’
- ‘What does it look like?’
- ‘What sound does it make?’
- ‘What does it taste like?’
If you are in need of new measuring cups, get ones that are different coloured for different measurements. That way you can say to your toddler use the red measuring cup instead of the 1/2 cup to make it easier for them to help out.
What do you like cooking with your toddler?
I’m always looking for new things to cook with my toddler. Post your favourite ideas and recipes below.