Toddler chores are a good idea. I’ve learned this after having four kids. Why would I put my tot to work? Well, when I say toddler chores I don’t mean washing the dishes or taking out the trash. What I really mean is occupying their space with things that belong to me. Every parent knows that toddlers always want what their parents have. So give it to them. That’s all I’m saying. Set up some toddler chores that will make your baby happy and content to work away at your feet while you clean. For a toddler, chores are a way to learn and explore, and imitate their parents.
Communication and repetition are a toddler’s main tools for learning. You are your baby’s first teacher. Rather than frustrate yourself with trying to keep her out of adult things, try to involve her in toddler chores that will make her desire to imitate you safe, fun, and habit-forming.
Toddlers are delightful and exhausting, aren’t they? My kids are funny. As toddlers, my three boys were fearless. Of course babies on the move are without common sense about many dangers. This makes housework challenging.
That’s why I use toddler chores to keep my youngest occupied while I am working around the house. After four kids I have come to realize that regardless of how much my husband and I invest in toys, our kids always want to play with our stuff instead. We’ve got a baby girl who is obsessed with taking the television remote and putting it in the bottom drawer of our kitchen pantry. But she also loves to do her toddler chores. It took a while before we discovered her drawer of favorite things. I can tell already she is going to love shopping when she’s older.
If you are interested in how I created toddler chores for each of my kids, I’ll give you a list of some. I’ve got ten really good toddler chores that you can try with your little guy. Hopefully this will keep your baby out of trouble and give you a chance to load the dishwasher in peace for a change.
3 books that will help you teach toddler chores to your baby:
- Best First Book Ever! by Richard Scarry
- Bear’s Big Blue House: A book of first words by Alison Weir and Janelle Cherrington
- Baby Einstein: Violet’s House by Julie Clark
Ten Great Toddler Chores for Parents to Try:
1. Sweeping the Floor:
If you haven’t already done so, consider investing in a small plastic hand-held sweeper and dustpan for your child. Show her how to sweep up the floor while you hold the dustpan. According to my friend, who’s got 3 kids, a happy wife and runs an investment blog (click here) This is the easiest of all the toddler chores I have. She will get quite a kick out of this activity and will begin to pick up the sweeper and use it herself without prompting.
This is the easiest of all the toddler chores I have. She will get quite a kick out of this activity and will begin to pick up the sweeper and use it herself without prompting. If you are willing to invest a little money, you could consider the Casabella Floor Sweeper as another great option instead. It is not electrically powered and picks up dirt and crumbs without a dustpan.
Toddler chores should always include tidying up. I have a big basket that I keep under my storage bench. It’s for holding toddler toys. I will just pull it out and ask my baby to clean up. We’ll then get started picking toys off the floor and putting them in the basket together. I will praise her each time she puts one in the basket.
Involve your toddler in the laundry process at your home. We have a front load washer, so our little guy will either empty wet clothes into a hamper or take dirty clothes and put it in the machine. He loves this job and sometimes gets carried away–taking things back out or putting things back in. Always praise your child on her efforts.
4. Washing up:
This is a very simple task that requires a wet cloth and your child’s imagination. In our house we wash up to music. We sing songs from our Kindermusik “Welcome to our house” CD. You could also purchase the materials second-hand without registering for a class or buying through their website. Songs on this CD are sung about the washing machines, wiping, sweeping, etc…. It has a very cute arrangement, and the classes are well worth the investment if you are fortunate to find one in your area. In our house everyone gets a cloth and things get wiped from table tops to floors: chair rungs, television screens, base boards, couch cushions, sink tops, stools, while we sing.
5. Using the Garbage Can:
You can easily teach your toddler where to put the rubbish. Even if your little one doesn’t yet talk, she probably has a pretty good receptive vocabulary. Show your toddler the garbage can, or rubbish bin, and tell her what you call it. Then the next time she throws food on the floor, in a very fun and friendly way, say: “Oh, that’s yucky. Put it in the garbage!” Be sure to emphasize the word garbage. In time your toddler will begin to use the garbage without prompting, sometimes putting things in there that don’t belong. Not to worry, that faze will promptly end as long as you keep a watchful eye and steer your little one toward the toy box instead.
6. Fetching Objects:
Teach your toddler to fetch objects for you. This is a great toddler chore. Use the simple command, “Bring me.” This toddler chore works best in conjunction with a good board book. When your toddler begins to point at objects around her, introduce a book similar to one of the three listed below. Spend a few moments everyday reading this book together and naming everyday objects she comes in contact with throughout the day.
7. Delivering Objects:
Once the child learns what “bring me” means, then you can utilize it whenever she picks up something that really doesn’t belong in a toddler’s hands. This is when you introduce the command, “Show”. Toddlers just love to bring you things, so the next time your little one goes into a forbidden cabinet or drawer and pulls out something you’d rather she not play with, just smile and say, “Oh!…. Show me!” Then praise your little one when she gives you the object, and don’t be surprised if she goes off to find another treasure to show you again.
8. Recycling Papers:
This is also another good job for toddlers. We have a big bin for junk mail and miscellaneous papers. Our little guys love to put junk mail in there and take scraps of paper out for doodling and coloring on.
9. Unloading the Dishwasher:
A toddler can also help mommy or daddy with this fun task. We like to keep harmless plasticware on the lower level of our machine. My youngest loves to pull out sippy cups and silverware and hand them to me. Unloading the dishwasher provides parents a great opportunity to teach colors, sorting, and matching skills. Just talk to your toddler as you take the object from her. Say something like, “Thank you for the cup!, can I have another cup?” If this is an emerging skill for your child then guide her hand with your own to ensure she makes the “right” choice. If she doesn’t, say “Good try. You gave me a spoon. Spoon.” When working with your toddler always keep your commands short and simple and use repetition to build her vocabulary.
Finally, invest in a few feather dusters and keep them handy for times when you need to distract and refocus your little one. It is a fun object that will help a determined little toddler switch her attention from something you’d rather she not do to something that is safe, beneficial, and fun. Don’t have a duster? Give your toddler a baby wipe.
Like my list of toddler chores? Do you have a few of your own that you like? Leave a comment and let me know what you’ve tried. Does your baby like doing toddler chores? Are you getting more done around the house now? Post your thoughts!