Coming up with an idea for dinner is hard enough, but the difficulty in keeping little ones occupied while making it, is a challenge in itself. Here is a list of ideas to keep your toddler occupied so you can concentrate on getting food on the table.
WASHING DISHES: Fill the sink with water and dish soap, throw in some utensils, and hand the scrub brush over to your kid. They could spend hours playing in the sudsy water. You can even turn the faucet on to a slow drip to keep them entertained even longer. Keep in mind, they will most likely get wet, and everything around the sink and on the floor will be wet. Especially if you give them anything they can pour water out of, like a cup or bowl.
MIX FOOD: Most kids love to help prepare the food. My kids beg me to let them help cook pretty much anything. Give your toddler something to mix up in a bowl. They will feel like a big kid helping to make dinner. I will sometimes even throw a handful of cheerios in a bowl along with a spoon, and my toddler will go to town stirring them around.
CLEANING: My 18 month old’s current favorite activity is sweeping the floor. She pretty much just pushes the broom around, but it keeps her busy while I am doing other things. Some other ideas to try are dusting, washing windows with a damp cloth, or wiping the cupboard doors. They aren’t going to make your kitchen spotless, but it will buy you some time to cut up vegetables or mix ingredients together.
BANG ON POTS: Use the method of entertaining in the kitchen that parents have been doing for years. Give your toddler a pot and a wooden spoon, and let them bang away. They will love the noise it makes, and love it even more if you make a big deal about it. Sing a song while they bang or do a dance to get some giggles out of them.
SORTING BUCKET: One of my favorite things to keep my toddler in busy for a while is to pull out an ice cream bucket full of plastic cookie cutters. She will sit forever dumping them out, lining them up, and putting them back in the bucket. You can use a bucket, bowl, or baggie to fill with items to keep them busy. Use utensils, measuring spoons and cups, or sippy cups and lids. I usually only use the cookie cutters during dinner prep, so it’s something special she gets to play with and it holds her attention longer.
COLORING: If I need to keep my little one out from under my feet, I will often sit her in the high chair with a coloring book and crayons. I have to keep my eye on her a little more so she doesn’t eat the crayons, but she usually is happy scribbling away for a while. I give her a few cereal puffs and a cup of milk, and it buys me a good 15 minutes.