For Christmas, Miss H received a Guidecraft "Kitchen Helper" step stool from my parents. I had asked them to give her this for her primary/big gift from them because I felt Miss H absolutely needed it. Yes, you heard me correctly, I considered this to be a need not a want.

Any time we are in the kitchen, Miss H wants to be up in our arms. She wants to see everything we are doing. And on the flip side, we want to be able to involve her more in the kitchen. She has her pint-sized table and chairs set in the kitchen, but our dog always has his nose on the table investigating whatever Miss H has. Which means any food-related projects require us to constantly shoo the dog away. Also, my arms were just getting really, really, really tired.

On Christmas Day we had the kitchen helper assembled and ready to go. We showed it to Miss H and put her in it. She loved it...for a few minutes. Then she declared, "no more tall" and asked to come down. I think she was a little bit nervous being up so high on her own!

Over the next couple of days she got more and more used to being up high. Now she tries to drag the helper across the room all by herself to wherever she'd like to "work." She loves being up.

Once Miss H was comfortable in the helper, we were able to start baking with her. We started off simple with some "fake baking" - flour, water, and cinnamon! Miss H loved mixing everything together. She loves the smell of cinnamon. And, there was nothing that she was mixing together that wasn't safe for her to touch. She had a blast! This also helped her learn how really stirring something was vastly different from stirring imaginary soup. Stuff splashes out of the bowl in real life!


We later moved onto some kid-friendly recipes that are completely safe for her to touch (i.e. egg-free). We were able to practice pouring and mixing ingredients and shaping cookies. Miss H had a lot of fun, although she kept on trying to take the cookies off of the tray and put them back in the bowl, only to re-shape them again. I think she would have done this all afternoon if I'd let her.

We've also had fun making banana bread with Miss H, although we have to keep a much more watchful eye on things as the batter contains raw egg. Miss H is practicing her pouring skills!


It's so much fun asking Miss H who baked the cookie she's eating and hearing her say that she did! She's very proud of herself. Of course, this also means she definitely knows when there are cookies in the house!

Beyond baking projects, it's awesome having Miss H closer to the food we're preparing. For example, last night I was making my lunch for work today and Miss H sampled all of the ingredients that I put in my salad: sunflower seeds, chickpeas, goat cheese, and a cilantro lime vinaigrette. She loved everything she tried! It's a great way to introduce her to new foods and flavors because she feels more invested in what the food is.

The only word of caution I have about having your little one "up high" is you still need to keep a very close eye on them. Miss H likes to be a stinker and stick her foot off the side, practice the "hokey pokey" while in it, and all sorts of daredevil activities. We are establishing very firm rules because she's still little and could fall and hurt herself quite easily.

And, in case you're wondering, we love the cookies we've been making with/for Miss H! They have no added sugar, no egg, and lots of good-for-her foods like oats, chia seeds, bananas, and carrots! They are super simple and she loves them.

Healthy Toddler Cookies
from Teach. Eat. Love.

2 really ripe bananas
3 tablespoons raw
almond butter (or peanut butter)
1/2 c. applesauce
2 c. oats (quick or old-fashioned)
1 tsp. real vanilla
extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. finely grated carrots
1/3 c. dried fruit (raisins, craisins, blueberries, etc)
1 T. chia seeds

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a mixing bowl, smash the banana with a pastry cutter or a fork. Stir the nut butter in, followed by the
applesauce. Add all of the other ingredients and stir well.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop the dough onto a cookie sheet. The dough won't spread much during baking, so lightly flatten the cookies if you'd like. Bake until firm, about 10 minutes. Add about 5 minutes to bake time if you're using old-fashioned oats.