Tips to Involve Toddlers in Food Preparation

Toddlers are much more likely to eat something they have helped to prepare. It’s an old tip but, believe me, it works! And this goes for slightly older children too, so if you have a fussy eater on your hands or just want to avoid any faddy eating problems in the future, head to the kitchen and have some messy fun!

Notice the word messy there? There’s no way to avoid it – it may not be clean and tidy but go with it and allow your toddler to help out with simple tasks and then enjoy the fruits of their labour. Have a few aprons and some kitchen paper to hand to mop up as you go, but just remember there are so many benefits to be had from spending time in the kitchen with your child.

– You are building their self esteem by allowing them to do simple tasks

– You are spending quality time with them, without the distraction of TV

– They are learning a little about where foods come from

– They will thrive as you praise them as they achieve small tasks and help you out

Remember too that this eagerness to help will not last forever – ask anyone with a 12 yr old and you may find that they are less keen on spending time in the kitchen with their parents! So while you have a keen little helper on hand, make the most of it.

If you don’t have time for cooking, involve them in the other tasks surrounding food preparation and mealtimes. Maybe they can bring small plates and cups or utensils to the table, put some napkins out, take some vegetables out of the vegetable drawer for you and so on. Keeping them involved and chatting about what you are doing is key,

If you are going to cook together, choose a time when you are not rushed and the results are not too important – so not when you have friends coming for dinner in a few hours and you are trying to get things ready. It can be a great rainy day activity and it doesn’t always have to involve baking biscuits or cakes! Try making some brown bread with your toddler using the recipe below (or link to recipe ). They can pour the dry ingredients into the bowl, mix with a wooden spoon, help to pour in the buttermilk and even feel the messy mixture with their little hands (the best bit!).

Easy-Peasy Wholemeal Brown Bread


Makes 2 loaves of brown bread.

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees

Lightly oil the inside of 2 loaf tins with vegetable oil


16ozs Wholemeal flour

4ozs White Flour

2 teasps Bread Soda sieved

2 tablesps brown sugar

2 handfuls of porridge oats

2 handfuls of pinhead oatmeal

2 handfuls of bran

2 handfuls of wheatgerm

1 tsp salt (optional)

1 litre of buttermilk

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour in the buttermilk and mix well. The mixture will have a wet consistency. Divide the mixture between the 2 oiled loaf tins and bake for 1hr 10 mins. Delicious and healthy!

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.

View all posts by