Toddlers in the Kitchen!

21 Jul

Having a toddler around is a blessing, but can be a challenge at times too. Especially at meal time. It can be stressful to get meals onto the table while juggling parental responsibilities. Ease parental duties a bit by getting your toddler involved! Getting children involved in meal preparation is important for a couple of reasons. It can decrease work load and increase confidence of the child. It also provides a wonderful time to interact, chat about the day, and plan for future meals.

When working in the kitchen with your child, always begin with hand washing. Encourage your child to sing the ABC song or the Happy Birthday song while lathering up to assure proper hand washing time. This is an excellent habit to get into, not only for yourself, but for your child as well.

Start slowly when engaging your child in the kitchen, and be patient. If your child is young, you can begin by having them:

  • Wipe a table top.
  • Measure and pour dry ingredients.
  • Take salt and pepper shakers to the table for a meal.
  • Put toast into the toaster and pop it down.
  • Take forks to the table for meals.
  • Place cups on the table for meals.
  • Clear items off the table following a meal.

Remember that children need instruction. Resist the urge though, to hover or to micromanage the child when they are trying to help. Praise their efforts. Doing something well takes practice, and it is important to remember that no one does something well the first time. Only practice improves performance! Try to give the child a rough time limit, but remember that they work on their own time.

Mealtime is a great opportunity to interact with your child. It is also a good opportunity to talk about nutrition and portion size with your child. Expect spills, and then teach your child how to clean them up! Keep the television off and the distractions to a minimum. Enjoy your child, the time together, and the experience of teaching.

As parents, it is our job to raise our children up to be self sufficient. This can start early. Toddler hood is not too early to begin teaching your child about how to prepare a meal, appropriate serving sizes, and nutrition. And it can be a lot of fun if you let it!

P.S.  This post also applies to teenagers.  Replace the word toddler with teenager.  I’ve had both, so this is the voice of experience talking.  Just saying…





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