Now that Little Bear is a young toddler (a little over a year old), she’s interested in everything–and wants to do exactly what we do. This is great because it lets us teach her how to do things, but she still doesn’t really understand how or why we’re doing what we do. One of our favorite activities is cooking together as a family (which, to be honest, hasn’t happened a lot lately because of my husband’s long commute for work). So usually it ends up being me and LB, and trying to stay safe cooking, keep her involved and entertained, and help her start to understand what we’re doing.
Now that we’ve been doing it for a while, I thought I’d share my favorite tips on how to engage your young toddler in cooking with you!
- Try to figure out your plan ahead of time. I say this because if you’ve got the oven on, burners going, ingredients and knives out, things can get super chaotic really quickly. If you have a plan (one thing at a time!), it makes it a little bit easier.
- Have a safe place for your toddler. I’ve been using this Little Partners Learning Tower, and it’s an absolute godsend. I know that she’s safe in her tower, can’t get out and go running down the hall with utensils and/or food, and if she’s bored she can just sit down inside and play with a toy. The best part about it, is that it puts your child at counter height, so you can help them learn how to cook, but you don’t have to worry about them falling off a chair!! It’s brilliant! And, this limited edition version has a chalk board spot for art activities!
- Keep knives and other dangerous instruments AWAY. A younger toddler that can’t understand the dangers of a knife is a disaster waiting to happen. I always keep my knives and tools far away from her.
- Talk them through what you’re doing. I always tell her each and every step…”And now we have to cut the tomatoes. We’re going to wash them first, and then remove the stem. Then, we’re going to turn the tomato on its side like this. Now, we’ll cut it like this. And now like this…” Being super specific and descriptive may seem too detailed to us as adults, but they’re taking it all in. Tell them all the details!
- Let them touch the foods. Let them feel and taste what you’re cooking up! We made tacos the other night, and I made sure to let her have a little bit of everything we chopped up. (This obviously doesn’t apply to raw meat!!
Above all, be patient. Kids that are in that beginning toddler stage have no clue what’s happening. They want to watch and be entertained, but they can’t understand what’s really happening, why you won’t give them the knife or let them touch the hot plate. But keep at it, because you’re going to be so far ahead of the game once they really start comprehending what’s going on! As long as you keep with it, your kids will be dying to get to the kitchen island or table to help you cook!
*Thanks to Little Partners for sponsoring this post. All opinions on the Learning Tower are 100% honest and my own*
Interested in a Learning Tower from Little Partners? I’ve had the opportunity to use mine for a while now and I absolutely LOVE it so much. It came in a large box and I had to assemble it myself. Considering that I *hate* putting things together (too much Ikea in the past 20+ years), I was a little worried, but the instructions were really clear, and it took me about an hour to put together on my own. Yes, there’s quite a few pieces, but all of them are really sturdy, and it’s well made!
The tower adjusts to your toddler’s height. My daughter is very small, so she’s on the highest level, and the platform to stand on is very wide (15″x18″), so there’s a lot of space to move around.
The only downside, if there is any, is that it’s very large when assembled, and you’ll need a place to keep it (39x24x22). Luckily we have space in our kitchen and it fits right next to our butcher block, but the legs do stick out a little bit as you can see in the picture above. The functionality of the tower totally outweighs the side, though, in my opinion, because knowing your toddler is in a safe, confined area while you quick go put something in the oven, is such a relief. You obviously don’t want to leave your child unattended, but if you’re concerned about them following behind you as you quick stick something in the oven, you won’t have to worry about it with this!!
Another cool thing about the limited edition tower is the space for doing crafts. You can write on this chalkboard space, or put up some paper with the clips and let them draw. It’s such a cool idea for when they’re not using it as a stand!
I know some might balk at the cost of this product ($229 for the limited edition, $199 for the original), but this is worth it for the convenience, ease and safety for the kids! I’m sure you could probably build your own if you’re handy, but personally I’d rather just spend my money on something I already know is safe, adjustable, and looks really nice. Plus, not many people have time to be building something like this!!
Overall, I absolutely give this a 5/5 star rating…even more if I could! I love it, and would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a stand for their child to help in the kitchen.
If you have any questions, please leave me a comment below!!
If you like it, Pin It!