Plant a Garden with Your Toddler
May 30, 2023
Author: Regalo Baby
Most toddlers love to get dirty. (If you have a toddler with sensory sensitivities, this post may not be for you – I had one toddler who screamed bloody murder if his skin touched sand). Most toddlers are also inherently curious about the way the world works. So if YOU are a gardening aficionado, you may be interested in allowing your toddler to help you in the garden! While gardening may not hold your toddler’s attention for long periods of time, it really is a perfect opportunity to spend time together outside, let them get dirty, and teach them about life cycles!
Here are a few tips to help the gardening process go smoothly:
1. If you don’t already know, make sure you do some research about the best time to plant the vegetables and flowers that you want to plant. What grows well in my climate may not be the same in yours! I will say that one of the easiest things I’ve found to grow is peppers. We bought some (insanely spicy) pepper seeds several years ago that I’m convinced are STILL popping up each summer.
2. Give your toddler a job he or she seems interested in! Toddlers often enjoy digging the holes for the seeds, carrying the watering can around, and picking vegetables off of the stems. We keep a few different large pots outside with herbs like basil and mint. Your toddler may enjoy being “solely” responsible for a pot of herbs! Just keep additional kid-friendly activities nearby so that you can keep an eye on your child while finishing up in the garden.
3. When your harvest starts popping up, let your toddler taste the foods! Tomatoes fresh from the garden taste way better than store-bought tomatoes, and your child may be more willing to try foods that they had a hand in growing! This is also a great time to talk with your child about NOT eating things they see growing outside of your garden (mushrooms, berries, etc.) that may be poisonous. Discuss how you can eat foods that you planted, because you know that they’re safe to eat, but can’t eat mushrooms found in the neighbor’s lawn.
4. Be patient – and keep your expectations low! If this is your first time gardening with a toddler, your primary goal should be to have fun! Toddlers will likely step on your seedlings, drown your seeds, and spend more time digging in the dirt than actually gardening. And that’s okay! Take the time to explain how far to dig down to put the seeds, how many seeds to put in the hole, and how much water to sprinkle on. What might be second nature to you is brand new information for your toddler. If you harvest 2 zucchinis and 10 cherry tomatoes, but you have a toddler who loved spending time outside with you, call it a win. Because when next spring rolls around, your child will be excited to start again, rather than dreading a task they remember as boring.