Indoor activities for toddlers
Living in Germany, we have several months that are cold and wet. My toddler has a high amount of energy, and is easily bored. Finding indoor play activities for toddlers can be challenging, especially if they are easily bored. Food activities for toddlers is a great indoor activity. My little one loves, I mean loves being in the kitchen. Our kitchen is tiny- it’s the size of a small closet, so we have to be creative with our space. One day, I decided to include my son with cooking, and he fell in love! His face lights up every time we cook. In fact, he now always helps me make breakfast as part of our morning routine.
The benefits of food activity for toddlers
It’s a great indoor play activity! When I introduced this activity to my son, I was a bit anxious. I like to have control, and try to manage any potential disasters. For this to be an enjoyable experience I needed to stand back, and let him enjoy the indoor activitiy. I had to accept that this was going to be a process, and an activity. That being said, I found it best to have him help with certain meals and desserts.
Toddlers love learning! This is a great opportunity to teach a step by step process of what’s going on. Talk about the ingredients, and even let your little one taste them (if it’s safe). This is a great opportunity for your little one to feel different textures- let them get their hands dirty. Teach them what you’re doing and why. Teach about the different ingredients being used. It’s also a great time to go over colors if you’re cooking with fruits and veggies!
There are so many opportunities to learn by spending time in the kitchen.
Utilizing fine and gross motor skills
Toddlers are in a continuous state of learning. I believe hands-on learning is one of the best ways to understand skills. Getting your hands “dirty” is not only a method of learning, but is also a lot of fun! It’s fun to see how they develop over time, picking up on those new skills
Use this opportunity to bond. Be understanding and patient with your little one. It can easily become overwhelming.
How to better enjoy this experience as a mom
Accept the mess
That’s right, I said it. Going into this activity I encourage you to go ahead and accept the mess before you even begin. A mess will definitely happen, one way or another. It takes .05 seconds for your little one to spill an entire bag of flour (or so it seems)! You will go through and end up wasting ingredients. This is part of the process. Once I started accepting this, I was able to focus on my son’s enjoyment over the stress and mess. Depending on your toddler, you may be able to clean as you go. If not, don’t stress. Accept the mess, and clean up at the end. It’s a great practice in being a more patient momma.
letting go of expectations
Accept the strong possibility of meltdowns
There may be a fight over not eating the cookie or brownie dough
Brace yourself for some raised voices
Think of this as just another idea for indoor activities for toddlers. They rarely run smoothly, no matter how much you can plan for that perfect outcome. My son grabbed the cinamon and sprinkled it into the mashed potatoes for a dinner party we were having that evening. I coudn’t quite get all of the cinamon out, but thankfully our guests feedback was that the dish tasted a little more festive, haha.
Go into it as a learning experience for you and your toddler. Take the time to teach. Accept the mess. My kitchen always, I mean always looks like a disaster while we are “cooking” together.
Like I mentioned earlier, try to make this a practice in patience for yourself.
Be strategic in what you’re going to let your toddler help you cook with. Keep sharp objects away from your little one. It only takes a single second to look away for your little one to grab a knife. They are quick! If I am going to be cutting up vegetables/ meat etc, I will give my son his spice containers, a bowl and a spoon. This will keep him occupied while I’m doing some prep. Sometimes I will stick him in front of the sink and give him some plastic cups to play with the water.
If I am struggling that day, I will intentionally postpone this activity, and try to prepare dinner during his nap. I need to make sure I’m up for all of the challenges, and if I’m struggling that day, it’s not worth it.
assign a designated area
I have my son stand on his stool in a designated area. As I previously stated, our kitchen is tiny, so I need to be strategic. Just an arm distance from the spice racks and far from enough the stove. Have a designated area for your little one.
Incorporate your little one with the clean up
At two years old, I started adding “chores” to my son’s list. Cleaning the kitchen with him can be a bit overwhelming. Honestly, when he helps with “cleaning” it is often more work for myself, but it is still a great lesson on responsibility and cleanliness. It is also a great follow up to food activities with toddlers. To help with this, I have a single chore or two that he can “help” with. When he has completed his chores, I will either finish cleaning when he is occupied with something outside the kitchen, or more often than not, I end up cleaning the kitchen at the end of the day.
Some examples of his kitchen activities for 2 year olds are:
- unloading/ loading the dishwasher
- Help washing the dishes
- Hand me the dishes to be washed
Gives them a sense of accomplishment
Cooking activities for toddlers that I incorporate:
- I allow him to stir the ingredients in the mixing bowl
- Depending on the recipe and spice, I will allow him to add some spices (this is his favorite part). Depending on what the spice is and what we are cooking, I’ll either let him pour straight from the spice container, or grab the spices out of my hand.
- Pushing the buttons on the microwave
- Pushing the buttons on the blender
Some great teaching opportunities
Here is a list of some easy teaching opportunities:
- Names of foods and ingredients
- Feeling textures
- Practice skills such as washing hands and mixing
Are food activities for toddlers worth it?
Yes, absolutely! Letting my toddler help me in the kitchen brings him so much joy! Finding indoor activities for toddlers can be easier when you think of incorporating the activity into a daily routine. My son almost expects to help cook his eggs in the morning. And really, food play for toddlers can be so much fun (once you get past the mess), just figure out the cooking activities for toddlers that works best for you!
Do you enjoy having your toddler in the kitchen? What are some other suggestions that works great for you? I would love to hear about them!