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Ways to involve your toddler in the kitchen

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cooking with a toddler
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If your 1-year-old is like mine, they LOVE to be involved with cooking (or anything you are doing in the kitchen)! My Chunky Monkey loves to sweep too.  These are aspects that Montessori calls “Practical Life” lessons.  When a child has ways that they can be involved in the daily activities (cooking and cleaning), they develop independence and confidence.   Here’s how they do practical life lessons in a Montessori school.

Here are some ways we have found we can get our 1-year old safely involved in the kitchen.

1. cooking with a toddlerPurchase a learning tower.  They are a bit pricey, but you will use it for years.  Also, to us it is worth a million dollars for how happy it makes our son as he is able to more easily help out in the kitchen.  You can set it anywhere and adjust the height so your child is easily (and safely) able to reach the table or counter.

2.  Get out the salad spinner! Our son has loved “helping” make salad since he was 10 months old.  He pushes the button for the salad (which helps him build important hand muscles that will be needed for writing and drawing), and he takes the lid off on his own.  He also loves to tear the lettuce into small pieces and put them in a bowl I set next to him.  The trick is to have his hands washed and a very clean floor under his work area. 🙂  That way if/when he drops pieces, they can easily be picked up and used.

3.  Look for opportunities for them to help stir.  Our Chunky helping in the kitchenMonkey loves to help stir, and it’s an activity that enhances his arm coordination.  We stand close-by, but encourage him to be as independent as possible.  His smile is usually about the size of a slice of watermelon, as he feels so proud to be helping.  *As a side note: I believe in the Positive Discipline principle that children thrive when they have a sense of significance and belonging.  Learn why we need a sense of belonging here.

I’d love to hear other ways you get little hands involved in the kitchen. Please share below.

 

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DIY baby squeeze packs for a 1-year-old

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PicMonkey Collage
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PicMonkey CollageI know some people roll their eyes at the thought of how much time you must have in order to “waste” some making baby food.  However, I have found it to be the total opposite.  If I take about 2 hours, I can make enough food to last me a month!

Now that Chunky Monkey is 1, I am making squeeze packets and freezing quick vegetable snacks, but I have been making his food since he started solids (at 6 months).*I’ll post some baby food ideas soon.

Here is a quick and easy way to make DIY healthy squeeze packs for your 1-year old. These are squeeze packs (using the  Infantino Fresh Squeezed system). 004A9148Half of the cost is the Fresh Squeezed “station” which you reuse every time you make the squeeze packets. Total worth the $16 cost! *And actually a friend of mine has been lending me hers.  So find a friend to share with and you’ve just scored an even better bargain!

Infantino "Fresh Squeezed" Station

Infantino “Fresh Squeezed” Station

It’s then $13 for 50 DIY squeeze packs (Prices are from 2/2015 on Amazon).  That’s less than half the price that you pay for pre-made packs.

Squeeze Pouches

Infantino Squeeze Packets (50 ct)

smoothie ingredients.Plus, you get to control what ingredients are in the packs (organic, gluten-free…whatever your pleasure).  My son is loving fruit smoothies right now, so pre-making squeeze packs means I only have to get my blender dirty once a month, too. yeah!

Here are some ingredients for your DIY squeeze packets:

  • Smoothie: Whole milk, Greek Yogurt, Frozen fruit, coconut oil (to help digestion), and I sneak in some cooked beets.
  • Carrots, Butternut squash and coconut oil
  • Quinoa and applesauce
  • Chicken, apples, and yams

*I’d love some more ideas, so please post recipes you have used for your squeeze packs in the comments below!

Here are some great step-by-step instructions on how to use the Fresh Squeezed system (although it is super intuitive and about the easiest DIY thing I’ve ever done.)  My only tip is to be sure your food is really blended, or you will get stuck trying to push a chunk through the tiny opening.:-)

Here they are!  DIY baby food for 1-year-old

They can be frozen for a few months and easily thaw by taking them out a day before you plan to eat them, or putting them in a mug of warm water (the same way you warm up a bottle).

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Author: FLORA

I am a new post-career SAHM, living in Bozeman Montana. I share stories and ideas from parenting with a Montessori and Positive Discipline inspired perspective. Also, I LOVE DIY projects and finding great ways to use thrift store or hand-made toys for my little one.
Learn more about why I say I'm "Just" a stay-at-home mom.

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