3 Ways to Involve Your Toddler in the Kitchen

The more hands-on they are, the more they'll appreciate their meal.
ByInternational Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation
Mar 2020
mom helping toddler bake in the kitchen
Photo: Getty Images

Preparing dinner with a small child (or two!) hanging on your leg is a challenge that’s hard to understand until you’ve been there. I’m sure many of us can personally admit to inundating our moms relentlessly before dinner with questions like, “What’s for dinner?” or “Is it ready yet?” While I can’t promise those questions will completely subside, we do have a few tricks to making time in the kitchen with a toddler or young child go a little smoother.

Research shows that young children who are involved in preparing meals have better self-efficacy and are more interested in eating the foods they helped make. Check out these three ways to involve your toddler in your next meal.

Get Their Opinion

Though you may already have some ideas of what you want to have for meals this week, consider having your toddler suggest a fruit, vegetable or starch that they want to add. This way, they feel like they have contributed to the meal and they’ll be more apt to try it.

Have Them Help

Of course, take proper precautions here. We don’t recommend having a toddler or young child use any type of sharp utensil, but they can be involved in mixing the ingredients of your salad together or assembling their sandwiches for lunch. Dessert is another great opportunity to get some assistance. There are lots of recipes online that don’t require baking, which makes them safe for your toddlers to help with in the event they try the treat before it’s finished. The more they feel involved, the better.

Don’t Forget Clean-Up

Cleaning up reinforces that food is not something to take for granted, nor is it something to waste. Having your children help with clean-up will remind them of all the work it took to make this meal, while also helping them appreciate the food they are fortunate to eat.

This post was written by Alyssa Ardolino, RD.

Published April 2018

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