Trying to figure out how to keep a toddler busy while you cook can be tricky. They want to see what you’re doing and “help” whenever they can.

But sometimes cooking just needs to be a “mom task” and your little one needs to be kept busy doing something else. This activity kept my toddler occupied for a solid 45 minutes. That’s an eternity in toddler time!

Let me tell you how to keep your toddler busy while you cook, easily!

how to keep a toddler busy while you cook

How to Keep a Toddler Busy While You Cook

When we first started doing “cook time” my little one loved to explore the different pots and pans and utensils. She loved to practice stirring her invisible food. It was great.

But as she got more practice “cooking”, her attention span with the activity dwindled. It would be only a matter of minutes until her proud little self stood and exclaimed “done!”.

I needed to figure out a new way to keep her happy with “helping me cook” for more than 3 minutes. So here is what I did.


Give them their cooking “tools”

Lay down a towel or two on your kitchen floor first. Then give them some bowls, pots, pans, utensils. Whatever tools you want them to pretend cook with.

Try mixing it up from day to day as well. A new variety of objects will help keep their interest longer.

So we always start off with empty bowls and I see how long that will keep her interested. Once your toddler starts to lose interest, add a little water to the bowls.

Practice stirring

Show your little one how to stir. This activity helps develop their fine motor skills and coordination.

Expect messes. It’s okay. Making a mess and spilling water are all a part of learning for your toddler. (That’s why you want to put towels down)

Once they are losing interest in just stirring the water (or splashing it). Now add some more interest.

Add food coloring

I like to use this all natural food coloring by McCormick. It comes in a variety of colors in powder form. And it is super easy to clean out of clothes. The color will rinse right off. (So no worries about stained hands or clothes)

all natural food coloring for toddler activities

Your toddler will surely get a kick out of the new color added to their water. And they can mix it in and watch how it transforms the water. Woah! Now it’s pink!

Combine two different colors to make a whole new color.

The next step in our “cooking adventure” is my toddler’s favorite.

Add baby bubble bath

You can use any kind of soap or bubble bath to create some awesome fun for your toddler. But I just used what I had readily available, baby bath soap. This is one of my favorites.

Squirt a little in the bowls with the water and food coloring, and WOW. Colored bubbles!!!

keep toddler busy

This made my toddler squeal with glee. She loves to play, I mean “cook”, with the colored bubbles.

Intermittently when I am cooking I will show her different things she can do with the water and/or bubbles as we go along.

You can show your toddler how to scoop. We have a plastic funnel that she likes watching water come out of. Anything you have in your kitchen drawers that is safe (obviously) can make for so much fun for your toddler.

Figuring out how to keep a toddler busy while you cook, doesn’t have to be complicated.

This string of activities kept my little one busy, like I said, for a solid 45 minutes. It makes cooking a fun thing to do with you. And they are learning so many good skills.

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