Looking for easy and quick ways to keep toddlers busy while cooking dinner with simple activities for toddlers?
I’m very fortunate that my husband usually gets home early enough to watch the kids while I cook dinner, which is always nice.
However, there’s still many times I have to do both, which can be quite the task with little ones by my side.
However, there are a few activities for toddlers that will do the trick to keep the kids busy during dinner prep.
Here are 8 Toddler Activities to keep those toddlers busy while cooking dinner:
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1. Magnets or Magna-Tiles on the Fridge
We have animal magnets and letter magnets on the fridge that will keep my boys entertained for a few minutes. (Although some of them will magically disappear/slide under the fridge).
Recently, I’ve added Magna-Tiles to the fridge rotation, which is always a hit.
Magna-Tiles on the fridge– that’s so silly mom! They are not suppose to be there! How do they stick? Can I build on the fridge with them? Let’s see how Magna-Tiles work on the fridge!
I like throwing a few on the fridge and see their cute little heads spin and build!
Magnets on the fridge is a fun activity that will distract the kids for a few minutes.
2. Magnets on Baking Pan
For some extra silly fun, place magnets or magna-tiles on a baking pan!
I like to use the alphabet magnets to encourage spelling, but any magnets work!
Just take out a baking pan and magnets, and viola! Simply activity!
3. Containers and Lids
This is a better activity for a baby or young toddler, but containers and lids are great to keep that age busy.
Simply grab a mixture of containers and lids… think Tupperware and/or recyclables!
You can also use things like old parmesan or seasoning containers (containers with lots of holes) and take pipe cleaners, pom poms, etc. and have them stick them in the containers!
Playing with containers and lids are a fun way to keep busy, and you can always add to the activity when it gets a little boring!
Coloring is an easy, minimal set-up activity and better for older toddlers, but little ones may like it too! (And you can always adjust it to make it age appropriate!)
Coloring with crayons and paper/coloring book is great, but you can also set up canvas paper on the floor or have them color in a box!
If you don’t have crayons or markers, or if they haven’t mastered that skill yet, you can also take a big paintbrush and a little water in a small bowl and have them “paint” on colored paper!
You can also grab a dry-erase board or even a magnetic drawing board where they can draw and erase their work for some endless fun!
Coloring is such an easy activity and great option for them to do at the table while you are cooking!
What is it with tape? My kids love tape that I had to stop buying it for awhile because they would use it all up on me!
If you have a young toddler, you may want to stick them in a high chair, and put masking tape on their tray, and have them pull it off and on. If they are older, you could have them put masking tape on the floor (gasp!) and make a race track.
You could also just give them regular tape with construction paper and see what they do with it!
Tape is popular at my house and will give me a few minutes to get some chopping done!
6. Assign a Task
My kids love to help! It’s not always an option depending on what’s for dinner (and I’m not always in the mood for a helper) but sometimes it’s a great option!
If we are making pizza, I may have them pull up a stool and spread the sauce, sprinkle the cheese, and add the toppings! They love it!
Try to find ways to incorporate making dinner into a fun activity.
If I’ve already done the prep or can’t have little hands helping, I may ask them to bring their milk cups, plates, butter tub, etc. to the table!
They love to help and it gives me a few seconds to sir the pasta or whatever it may be! I also get to make less trips to the table!
7. Feed Early
If not much is working to keep my kids occupied, and it’s taking awhile to get dinner on the table, I may feed my kids a little snack or something.
I see your eye roll. I see your point.
It doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes desperate times calls for desperate measures. Food always works.
If I’m cutting peppers, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, etc., I’ll put them in small bowl and strap them in their seats.
The kids get a head start with dinner and I get some peace and quiet while finishing dinner.
Feeding a snack or a portion of dinner that’s ready early can make sense in some situations and can make finishing dinner easy!
8. Pots & Pans Play
The Pots and Pans drawer is my never-fail go-to if I need something easy and quick! I tend to use this option for emergency situations like if something else isn’t working or the water is boiling and I need something quick as a distraction.
My Pots and Pans are in a bottom drawer, and I’ll quickly take off the child lock and pull a few utensils out for some banging and playing for a few minutes to get a few things done!
It must be something about opening a forbidden draw or something, but real pots and pans are always a hit!
What are some activities for toddlers that you do to keep your kids busy while making dinner?
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