I have a few great suggestions that have worked for me for the past seven years.
*Put the baby in a bouncy seat, baby swing, or car seat for some, so that he/she can watch you, and talk to them while you are cooking. It sounds crazy, but this is a teaching time for you and your child, for they are learning sounds/words which will pay off when they start talking.
Babies who are sitting up/crawling:
*Sit your child in a high chair where they can see you, and give them a few measuring cups or plastic bowls to play with. I am always reluctant to spoons, for they can choke or gag themselves which is scary for both you and your child.
*Also there are great suction cup toys and bowls by, “Sassy” (found in Target, Babies R Us,Buy Buy Baby, or any baby specialty store) that stick right onto a surface.
*Links from a baby play mat are great as well!
*Cherrios, or Puff snacks in bowls/cups keep the baby busy too.
*For those who are crawling, I always keep a drawer and a cabinet where my children loved to explore. They were filled with their bowls, my Tupperware, or any kitchen items that are not dangerous. (All my cabinets and drawers either have locks, or pull down locks to prevent dangerous accidents or messes stop right in their tracks. 🙂
Children ages 2 and up:
* While cooking I give my children the scraps from the vegetable, with a cutting board and a plastic cabbage/salad knife (totally safe and found at Bed Bath & Beyond). They chop away and have a ball!
Give your child a smock, then pull up a chair and turn it backwards near the sink where you are prepping/cooking your meal, and let them wash vegetables, or scraps in the sink and watch the smiles on their faces!
Children love to explore and watch their parents, so enjoy these fun tips!