Do you cook/bake with your toddler? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 44 Old 10-19-2010, 10:58 PM
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Well, we just use a chair. Actually, 2 chairs. DS, 3.5, has two positions. His helping position, and his "helping" position, and each has its own chair. One he can stand on when he's actually helping near the action and the other is on the side in a taller chair (bar height) he can eat a snack & play with whatever utensil he deems exciting out of the drawer that day. Usually, the cherry pitter.

Another fun thing is "washing apples" in the sink with a bowl & a brush.

We bake at least once or twice a week...since I freeze a lot & pay my babysitter in food, we cook lots of muffins, breads, baked oatmeals, cookies, brownies, etc.

I also let him stir the soup, he really likes that too.
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#32 of 44 Old 10-19-2010, 11:35 PM
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I didn't read all the posts. I'm sure there are lots of good ideas here. My daughter has been helping since around your son's age. Cooking is one of her very favorite things. Give him a dull knife and let him cut soft things: cheese, avocado, bananas, butter. Let him spread things like cream cheese and hummus. Children need careful lessons from you and tools that really work (but are safe). My dd could crack eggs by herself from 2.5yr. Look at a Montessori materials catalog in "practical life" for ideas and tools for kids. They just need some practice, so even if he seems way off at first, make encouraging comments and let him keep trying. Don't feel like you need to let him help with every meal, but just when you can take the time... he will be grateful and happy. And happy kids are more considerate and flexible, I've found!
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#33 of 44 Old 10-20-2010, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for more ideas! DS has been so excited to help this week. If I even mention the kitchen, he runs to his learning tower shouting 'help! help!' He's helped me mix things, put shredded cheese on top, we've made bread machine bread and zucchini bread

The things I've learned from in the past week:

1) last night, I let him mix measure and mix the ricotta, basil, and crushed red pepper for our spinach rolls. Went great until he put the measuring spoon with red pepper dust on it in his mouth, followed by a very shocked expression (though it was nothing a dollop of ricotta in the mouth couldn't overcome) (lesson: mind the hot spices/peppers)

2) this morning he helped me put spoon some granola into little bowls for our lunches. Also went well until I turned my back and he decided to pour the granola instead...all over the counter. (lesson: remember to pay attention)

3) he helped spoon ingredients into the bread machine the other day. I'm pretty new to bread making and wanted to be very sure that I was measuring precisely. So I measured and he poured what was measured into the bowl. Sort of. Some spilled. Then I turned away and when I turned back he was spooning more flour into the pan (lesson: remove things from his reach when we're not done and/or I'm not paying attention!)

4) a more general lesson: if there is anything I do not want in my meal/baked good, it can't be in his reach. letting him snack on things or drink while cooking usually means that it ends up in the final product (apple slices, dried fruit, water, etc)

Of course, these were good learning experiences for him and me and nothing major was harmed.

You've given me some great ideas for things he can do if I don't have ideas for what he can immediately help me with--scooping lentils, using the salad spinner, etc. These may come handy when I can't fully pay attention! Thanks again.

Also--the learning tower. I've really enjoyed it. We asked for it for Christmas last year (due the expense) and everyone in my husband's family pitched in to get it for us. (It was exactly what I wanted because it cut down on getting many little presents with (sometimes) limited usefulness!) It's been great to have as he was much less steady between 15-18 months. We have a small stool that he uses to climb up onto his tower so he's pretty independent with it. I can see that chairs would be okay at the age he is now, with supervision. As for not wanting him to access the counters, that might be an issue! We have an island, and I have to be mindful of what I leave in his reach (and I have to remember that he's growing and he his reach is getting longer all the time!) I also understand that they can have pretty good resale value (depending where you live). I hope that helps!
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#34 of 44 Old 10-20-2010, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Birdie B. View Post
I just started, and it's so fun! She loves to help make pizza dough, pie crust and stuff like that. I also let her stir pots on the stove - with a really long-handled spoon of course!

Another kitchen thing she has discovered: unloading the dishwasher. She loves to pull the dishes and utensils out one at a time and hand them to me, and I love the help! I just make sure to take out the knives ahead of time.
My DD loves helping unloading the dishwasher too! The problem is when I'm loading the dirty dishes and she just keeps taking them out and handing them back to me
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#35 of 44 Old 10-21-2010, 03:37 AM
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DD loves helping & seeing what I'm cooking. After I cut things up, DD helps me throw them into a pan/pot. She likes to mix pancake batter, etc. She also cracks eggs for me by throwing them down into a large mixing bowl (yes I do have to pick out the shells!).

We use a folding step stool like this and it works well. I can have it out when DD is allowed to and fold it & tuck it between the counter/fridge where she can't reach when she is not allowed to use it.

DD also loves washing the dishes. She uses the bottle brush for the sippy cups and regular sponge for plates. I just give her plastic things to wash and she's at it for like 2 hrs! I do put a plastic picnic tablecloth under DD/step stool cuz of splashing.

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#36 of 44 Old 11-04-2010, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by StephMN View Post
Wow! Thanks so much everyone. I guess what I lack in creativity is made up for in an awesome online community

Originally Posted by StephMN View Post
As a pp said, most of my cooking is cutting up meat/veggies and putting them in a hot pan, but another poster is right...he could help with that if we're careful...he is already super aware that things on the stove/oven are hot (he tells me so every time he gets close!). You've helped me see that if I'm just more mindful of what I'm doing, I can ask him to help me with lots of things!
Mine too! We are right in the same boat as in our new home there is actually enough room to sit on the counter so now she demands to whenever I'm doing anything in the kitchen! She loves to help measure and stir, tho at 27 months she is still not very coordinated. I do the measuring and let her dump into the bowl. Thanks for posting this, and thanks to all the other mamas who replied with great ideas!!
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#37 of 44 Old 11-05-2010, 10:12 AM
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If you use rubs, you can let her mix these up. My DD loves tasting different spices and herbs. Sometimes, I have her follow a recipe, but other times I'll ask her what might taste good on the chicken (or whatever) and let her pick out the spices and we experiment with different combos, amounts, etc. She usually ends up with a line up of different bowls on the table and will run back and forth tasting and adjusting. It's really fun.
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#38 of 44 Old 11-05-2010, 11:41 AM
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I read this post and wanted to give it a shot. DS love it!

I had him stand next to me in a chair and put veggies I had cut into a bowl (next day a pan). He really enjoyed helping and listened really well. Now he wants to help all the time. Mostly I let him watch. There's not much else he could do yet.

So Thanks for posting this!!!

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#39 of 44 Old 11-05-2010, 03:44 PM
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The other day I made chicken and dumplings and my 3 year old made the dumplings-this is what we did:

I measured out the ingredients and she stirred them with the whisk. She put in the butter and bacon fat-then she used her hands to crumble the fat into the flour mixture. Then she poured in the milk and we both stirred the batter. She kneaded the dough. She took out small sections of dough and rolled them out (i evened out spots that needed extra help) and then she used the pizza roller to cut the dough into 'noodle' shape (flat long and wide-ish) then she put the dumplings on a sheet of parchment and I put them in the stock pot to cook.

It is surprising what your toddler can do in the kitchen! Dumplings are great because they do not have to be a perfect shape-(no need to roll them out-just use a spoon or your fingers to pinch off little bits of dough and drop into the pot that way) and there is a lot of 'hand' work-like mixing the fat into the flour, etc.

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#40 of 44 Old 11-05-2010, 04:21 PM
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This thread comes at a perfect time for me. I've been trying to figure out ways to incorporate DS into baking and cooking time, but haven't been super successful. This has given me tons of ideas and made me realize that if I'd just slow down that there is a ton of stuff DS can help with. Oh, and I WANT one of those learning towers. I can't wait to try everything out.

So thanks!

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#41 of 44 Old 11-07-2010, 11:02 PM
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I you have a learning tower your more than half way there! We love the learning tower in our house, it's the best investment that we have made for our kiddo.

Maybe you could add pizza to your repertoire. Even if you make a batch of dough only once in a while that you then divide and put in the freezer the dough will be fun for your babe to squish and make into his own pizza every time you thaw a ball out to make dinner.

Also, could you make pancakes in the morning? If you buy a mix it's no-brainer.

Another idea might be to buy some of that play food that is made up of velcroed pieces and keep it in the kitchen for when you cook. We played with one of those sets (the make-a-pizza set as it happens) while eating out once and our DS loved playing.

Finally, this may not be in direct response to your question about what to cook with your babe but we baby proofed our cabinets a long time ago and DS just bangs away with all the pots and pans in the kitchen. While I'm cookinghe climbs up into the learning tower for a while and then climbs back down and plays with pots and pans by himself.

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#42 of 44 Old 11-08-2010, 03:24 PM
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I love the ideas in this post. We love to cook in our house and look forward to involving DS. He's only 14 months, though, so I'm not sure how much he'd get out of it. His attention span (though good for his age) is pretty short right now.

How old were your kiddos when you started cooking with them?

(If this seems hijacky, I'll start a new thread )

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#43 of 44 Old 11-08-2010, 03:28 PM
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Yes, but I have to beg her to let me help. Right now, she's very into cooking eggs. It really helped when she got tall enough to stand on a stool/chair and reach the stove.
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#44 of 44 Old 11-08-2010, 03:30 PM
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could he stir stuff into the pots and pans before heating them? Also, what about washing veggies, and peeling things like onions/garlic?

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