Where Should I Put My Baby While Cooking? | Safe and Creative Ideas for Infants and Toddlers
There’s so much joy parents have when they bring their baby home for the first time. For the first few days, adjusting to a new schedule is one of the top priorities, including cooking responsibilities. Whether first-time parents or seasoned professionals, they wonder where to put their baby when they start cooking in the kitchen again. While depending on family or friends for the first few days can get you off the hook a little while, this help doesn’t last forever. There’s also the challenge if you have an active toddler who insists on checking out everything you’re doing in the kitchen. This helpful guide gives solutions to keep babies and toddlers safely occupied while making a family meal.
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Where Should I Put My Baby While Cooking?
There’s not a single answer here that works for everybody, but various options are available to keep a baby safe while cooking. Deciding the option for baby-wearing can be done carefully (which will get explained later). But using common sense is the best tool.
For older babies, a high chair works well, but don’t forget to include their favorite snacks! Remember, babies are challenging to occupy, so choose hands-on ideas or toys with which they can manipulate and make discoveries.
Before they can crawl, it never hurts to have your baby on their play mat or blanket, or in a playpen or pack ‘n play nearby while making dinner. They may be perfectly content playing while you cook! Consider a bouncy activity center for active babies and ensure you’ve secured them with their feet through the holes.
And of course, you can always put your baby in their crib or bassinet! (find more ideas in this post- what to do with your baby when you shower!)
How Do I Keep My Baby Occupied While Cooking?
As long as the baby is far away from any source of heat, you could also consider letting them sort through the Tupperware drawer or playing with pots and pans. You would be surprised how long they can entertain themselves with such a simple idea. Here are other easy but effective ways to engage nearly any baby for at least ten to fifteen minutes.
- Fill a plastic bowl with a small amount of water and let them use their hands to play in it. It’s messy, but it works!
- Use a large clean paper towel and put snacks on the floor. You’ll see how long it takes them to pick it up one by one.
Remember, time is against you, so plan accordingly when it comes to making dinner. Plan your menu ahead and do any necessary prepping beforehand (i.e., cutting vegetables or marinating foods). Think about simple meals that take less than 30 minutes to prepare. And always take advantage of using a kitchen timer to keep yourself in check.
Can You Cook While Holding A Baby?
Parents can cook while holding a baby, but baby-wearing is the safest solution. It allows you to seamlessly multitask while keeping the baby close to you at all times. Still, it would be best if you exercised caution to keep them happy and safe at the same time. It’s all about positioning your baby-wearing sling appropriately! For example, for anything that involves sharp tools like knives or forks, the safest location is behind you or on the side. However, younger babies must be in the front-facing position until they’re old enough to sit up and hold up their heads.
It’s completely safe to use the front position if you’re doing simple tasks, like prepping baggies of snacks for your other kids or making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Knowing the curious nature of babies, it’s best practice to put your baby down if you need to use the stovetop. Again, ensure you rely on a timer to keep your dinner from burning!
Is It Okay To Leave My Baby Unattended While I Cook?
Understandably, any parent has some worry about leaving their baby unattended. However, having a baby attached to you at all times is exhausting. Placing your baby in the crib, playpen, or on a blanket on the floor for a few minutes while cooking is fine. And it could actually be safer.
You could even consider preparing dinner ahead of time while your baby is napping. Then, heat it in the oven when it’s time to eat. Never leave them in an unsecured area by themselves (such as in a baby car seat) because young babies can’t hold their heads up. Just a few seconds could put them in a dangerous situation.
Where Should I Put My Toddler When I Cook?
As you already know, toddlers are curious and mobile! Trying to find a solution to keep them engaged isn’t tricky, but it takes some finessing. Young kids love to mirror what mommy and daddy do, so consider safely involving them in cooking the family meal.
For example, you could set up a smaller table for them to complete easy tasks. These could be things like tearing lettuce up or pulling bread apart. Once you understand what your toddler is capable of (and how much of a mess you’re comfortable with), you could involve them in more detailed tasks. For example, they could put toppings onto a salad, mix things, or taking forks and spoons to the kitchen table.
Some parents use a special step stool called a learning tower. That way, their toddler can stand with them at the counter while they cook. You can also use a kitchen chair or stool. However, the learning tower is more stable and your child is less likely to fall!
And some kids love having their own kitchen set and cooking pretend food while mom or dad makes dinner! (read our review of Melissa and Doug’s toy kitchen set here!)
If all else fails, let them play at their table with wooden spoons and play-doh. Using these strategies will encourage your children to be good helpers, and they may have an interest in the food you’re preparing. Who knows, you might even have them eating spinach by the end of the week!