Keeping your toddler busy in the kitchen

Getting your toddler busy in the kitchen, involving them in simple cooking and food shopping, can go a long way to nurturing a positive attitude towards food and acceptance of new foods. Helping to fight off/manage the dreaded fussy eating phase.

If you have a fussy eater encouraging them to handle and touch new foods away from the dinner table, takes the pressure off eating them. This can help them to become more familiar with these foods, which in turn may improve their willingness to try them.

Simple things to try:


  • Get them to help with setting the table (well with the items that are least likely to break if they end up on the floor!)
  • When food shopping give them jobs to do, like ticking off the shopping list (they more than likely won’t be able to ‘tick’ but giving them a pencil and paper to scribble with, is just as good!), putting items in the trolley, picking items off the shelves (some supermarket shops have mini shopping trollies or shopping trollies with the front of a car on them to make them feel like they are driving the trolley around the shop, if you have access to something along these lines it makes the experience much more fun, although don’t be in a rush to get around the shop!)
  • Give them a colourful apron (and maybe a chef’s hat – a lovely photo opportunity!)
  • Get them to wash fruit and vegetables at the sink for you
  • Make a fruit salad and get them to help you put the fruit in the bowl and give them a big spoon to mix it all around (making sure to include some fruits they refuse to eat)

Recipes to try:


  • They’ll love getting sticky fingers making our salmon fish fingers. Have some already prepared and put aside in case they get over excited with the egg and flour!
  • Get them set up to make their own mini burgers with this recipe, again its best if you have some pre-made just to be sure they are edible – they don’t need to see these!
  • Banana bread is a great snack option and your toddler will have great fun mashing the bananas with a fork or their hands! Get them to help you weigh the flour, mix ingredients etc.
  • If making mashed potato, spoon some out into a big bowl and give them a fork/potato masher and let them ‘mash’ to their heart’s content! Use up any leftover mashed potato to make these simple tasty potato cakes, your toddler can get involved by helping to pat them into a round shape (well I use the word ‘round’ loosely for the one/two they are making)


The key is being organised, having things set up ready to go before you get them involved. It’ll sometimes (more than likely always!) be messy, but have the camera to hand as I’m sure you’ll get loads of funny photo opportunities, and hopefully amidst all the fun, you will be helping your toddler to develop a positive attitude to food. They will also love helping with the washing up after!

It goes without saying, but make sure their hands are washed before handling food.

Then on the days you can’t face too much ‘organised cooking’. Make food prints using halved small potatoes, carrots, apples or parsnips and some washable paints.


First 1000 Days Team

Our expert team of dietitians and nutritionists have created lots of articles, tips, advice and recipes all about the importance of good nutrition to help you give your baby the healthiest possible start in life.

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