Saturday, 19 October 2013

10 jobs a two year old can do in the kitchen

My regular readers will know that at the ripe old age of two, BB is already pretty handy in the kitchen. Recently though, when I have been talking to people in real life, it would seem that this is not normal. The comments I have been getting are things like "that sounds very messy",  and "is that safe?" and my answer to both questions is that it can be!

 The conversations I have been having have inspired this post. Having BB "help" in the kitchen is my way of entertaining him whilst I prepare our meals and clean up after. A two year old really can do a lot in the kitchen, meaning you have time to cook some nice food too.

You do need to think about what is appropriate in terms of their size, skills, and safety. Making jam or carving the Sunday roast obviously wouldn't be a good idea. I keep BB well away from the gas hob at all times. There are lots of he things he can do though.

1. Putting the cutlery away

Ok, so you take out the sharp knives first and any other potentially dangerous items, but then give your two year old the cutlery holder from the dishwasher or draining board and get them to put the knives forks and spoons away. This is a great sorting task, putting spoons with spoons etc. They are learning about groups, categories, shapes, and about organising things. They are being genuinely helpful which is great for you and great for them. They love to be helpful and involved. Plus it occupies them for quite a while so you do something else.




2. Putting the shopping away

In a similar way, your toddler can be really helpful when it comes to putting away the shopping and it's yet another great lesson into sorting and organising. BB knows where to put the tins, jars, packet food, the fruit, the veg, the cereal, the chocolate, the biscuits, and is starting to learn which items belong in the fridge or the freezer too. I love doing this task with BB. It is a great opportunity for him to learn about all sorts of foods. He knows the names of all the fruits and veg that we eat too, which, you have to admit, is a step ahead of many teenagers working the checkouts!

3. Measuring

So, it may now show that I am an ex science and maths teacher, but hey, who cares - it's never to early to start measuring! Many of the recipes we use follow the American system of cups. This is great with kids as it is so easy for them to learn. We have a set of cup measuring spoons which currently BB holds as I pour the ingredients into, but I can see this role reversing in a few months time. He can then "tip tip" the contents into the bowl as required. He is also able to use the scales too, though he can't understand numbers yet. I just make sure we have a big bowl, to allow for error, and let him do the filling until I say stop. The worst thing that can happen is too much goes in and we have to spoon some out again - he can help with that too. Sometimes he presses the zero button at an inappropriate moment, but this is happening less and less frequently as he starts to understand how things work.

4. Sieving

He is now a dab hand at sieving the flour into a bowl. He holds the sieve in one hand and "tap tap"s with the other. He really likes this job.

5. Mixing

He also likes to use the wooden spoon to mix things. At first I used to hold the bowl for him as it would slip and slide around. You could use a non-slip mat if you want, but again we haven't bothered with that, I just hold it if he needs, and he is getting the hang of holding the bowl with one hand and mixing with the other now. He can rub flour and butter together with his hands too - though recently he is not so much into getting his hands dirty!



6. Rolling, cutting, squashing, and spooning

BB has his own little rolling pin which can be used along side mine when rolling out pastry and biscuits and things. He especially loves the part where you sprinkle the flour. He can also cut out shapes, but needs a little help to lift them off the bench and on to the baking tray. If we make cookies or scones where you roll things in your hands he is quite good at the squashing part, and he is currently learning about spooning cake mix into the muffin tray. We recently had a huge breakthrough with this by buying a silicone baking tray. Paper cases were getting stuck to his spoon and he was making a huge mess, but with the silicone tray we are not using paper cases so it is much easier. Paul and Mary might mark him down for uneven sizes though, but he does a pretty good job for a two year old!

7. Assisting with fruit and vegetable preparation

Many people associate cooking with kids only with baking. I have a couple of issues with this, one of the major ones being that we want our kids to learn how to cook and eat healthy foods, not just cake! BB is familiar with lots of our veg prep. BB can wash the dirt off the potatoes and other vegetables and also rinse fruit under the tap too and the "shake shake" in the colander to get the water off. Typically BB will wash the vegetables for me and I will then peel them. He will tidy up the peelings and put them in the compost or chicken bucket, and I will then chop them. He will put them in the saucepan, or a bowl if we are just getting things ready for a stir fry or casserole or something. We also roast quite a lot of our veg in ghee. He is more than happy to put them in a bowl and "mix mix" so that the melted fat covers them. I always do this by hand (make sure it's not too hot!), but BB prefers to use a spoon. That works for me as he doesn't then put his greasy fingers everywhere!



8. Using a knife to cut soft fruits


Yes I said knife. Not a sharp one. We have a great little wooden cheese knife that a friend's Dad crafted for me years ago and BB uses this to cut the tops off strawberries. He can also slice a banana using a table knife or butter knife, and he is learning to spread butter on his bread too.

















9. Setting the table

Again he is able to help here by getting the appropriate cutlery out of the drawer for us, and placing it on the table. not a big one and not a long one, but one that gets him occupied elsewhere whilst I drain the boiling water from the veg, or something equally dangerous that I want him out of the way for.


10. Clearing the table

This isn't something I have asked him to do, but something which he spontaneously started doing of his own accord. I have often finished eating before him and have begun the washing up by the time he has finished, so now brings me his plate and anything else left on the table when he's done. 

He would also love to help with the washing up sometimes, but I don't encourage this. Sharp knives in the bottom of the sink, hot water, present a hazard, and wet clothes and a wet floor are often the result - and the dishes are still dirty at the end! We will leave that task to Mummy for a while.


Please note, to perform these tasks in our kitchen BB always stands on a chair. This does, I suppose,  make it a 'safety hazard' but he is quite practiced at it now and I believe the risk for us is very small. There is a product designed to make toddlers helping out in the kitchen safer, Little Helper Funpods, something which you could buy if you are worried about safety. Please perform your own risk assessment and make your own decision as to whether it is worth the expense for you.