5 Tips for Cooking With Your Toddler (plus a yummy cookie recipe to make!)

One of my favorite memories growing up is helping my mom in the kitchen. So when I had Jona I couldn't wait until he was old enough to help me cook. For his second birthday, my dad and step-mom got Jona a step stool so that he would be able to stand countertop high and be my little sous chef.

Since I've been letting him help me in the kitchen, I've learned a few things to make it a fun (and not stressful) process.

{one} Prep ahead. Things will go a lot more smoothly and fewer messes will be made if you have all the ingredients prepped and ready before you start cooking together. For example, do any chopping, slicing, or peeling beforehand so your (impatient) toddler isn't waiting on you while you use a knife. 

{two} Expect a mess. When cooking with kids of any age, just know that there are going to be messes. Mentally prepare for those messes. You may not be able to smile and laugh when your toddler dumps the bowl of flour onto the counter instead of into the bowl of wet ingredients, but at least you won't be shocked. 

{three} Give specific directions. Remember that things that may seem obvious to you (like not sticking your fingers in freshly cracked eggs) are not obvious to your two or three year old. Be sure to tell your child exactly what you want them to do, such as dump this green cup into that red bowl (and point to each item). 

{four} Assign age-appropriate tasks. If you want your little one to have fun, be sure to give him things that he can actually do, so he feels like he is truly helping. For Jona, I like to measure the ingredients and let him pour them into the bowl. He can also help with stirring and whisking, which he loves. 

{five} Don't rush. I made the mistake early on of letting Jona help every time I cooked, which didn't work out so well on rushed weeknights when I was trying to quickly put dinner together. Since then, I've learned that cooking together goes much more smoothly on the weekend when we're not in a hurry. 

My favorite way to let Jona help is with baking. Since baking involves a lot of measuring, pouring, and stirring, there are several opportunities for him to be involved. Over the weekend we made these Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies from Annie's Eats. 

These are a delicious twist on a classic oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, using molasses and even bourbon to give these cookies a unique flavor. The recipe also called for some of the oatmeal to be ground with a food processor, but I used this old fashioned nut grinder (passed down from my mom, thanks mom!) instead. 

The cookies were wonderful and Jona had lots of fun helping me make (and eat) them.

Did you like to help in the kitchen when you were a kid? If you have kids now do they help you cook? 

Linking up with Pin to Present at In Residence. 

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