10 Chore Ideas for Toddlers

10 Chore Ideas for Toddlers

After I posted about our success with a paid and non-paid chore system yesterday, many of you wrote in and asked if I could share some specific chore ideas. So, I thought I’d share some lists of age-appropriate chores that we assign in our home in order to give you some ideas and inspiration for what might work in your home.

Today, I’m tackling chores for toddlers. Before I share our list of toddler chore ideas, here are a few tips for encouraging your toddler to help with chores.

1. Keep It Simple

Don’t try to have your toddler learn how to do five new chores at once. Start with one simple chore and then gradually add a few more after they’ve gotten the hang of one chore.

2. Shower Them With Praise

Remember to enthusiastically praise your toddler and to make chores a fun and exciting thing. Work alongside them showing them the right way to do things and giving them lots and lots of positive affirmation for their efforts.

3. Don’t Give Up!

Training requires a lot of repetition. Don’t get discouraged if it seems you’re not making any progress or getting anywhere with your toddler. Just keep praising, encouraging, teaching, and helping them with their chores. They’ll eventually get it!

Have you heard of My Job Chart? It’s a free, easy-to-use, online chore chart and reward system for organizing and motivating your kids to learn first hand how to Save, Share, and Spend.

We have used this program in the past when we had some children who were feeling unmotivated to do their chores. We were amazed at how well it worked and would definitely recommend it!

10 Chore Ideas for Toddlers

::Get Dressed — They can also learn to put their dirty clothes in the hamper.

::Brush Teeth — with help from mom or dad to make sure they are thorough!

::Help Pick Up Room

::Water Plants — a watering can or small cup works great for this. Outdoor plants are best since toddlers tend to be a bit enthusiastic in their watering! :)

::Fold Washcloths

::Put Away Laundry — Silas has learned how to put away his pile of folded laundry in his drawers.

::Pick Up Toys & Put Into Tub — Cleaning up a huge mess is overwhelming for a toddler so it’s better to give them a simple task like putting all of the books back into the basket or the Duplos back into the tub.

::Dust — Give a toddler an sock to wear and let them dust all of the surfaces in a room.

::Wipe Down Sink/Toilet — Cleaning wipes work especially well for young children to use. Or, you can spray some nontoxic cleaner onto a rag and let them wipe down the sink, toilet, or floor in the bathroom.

::Empty Trashes — If you have small trashes in some rooms in your home, this is a perfect job for toddlers.

Want to help your youngsters develop a morning routine? You can print these free morning routine cards from Living Locurto.

Looking for other age-appropriate chore ideas, you might find these chore lists helpful:

20 Chore Ideas for 7-Year-Olds

15 Chore Ideas for 4-Year-Olds

What ideas do you have for other simple chores that toddlers can do?

Looking for more ideas for teaching children to serve? Get the Teach Me To Serve: 99 Ways Preschoolers Can Learn to Serve and Bless Others. This ebook includes 99 ideas for ways preschoolers can serve in the home, in your neighborhood, in the community, and in your church. Many of the ideas were very original and a number of them I highly doubt I ever would have thought of on my own.

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Comments

  1. Angela Bouma says

    My three year old feeds the dog daily and wipes down the baseboards in our home. He loves helping out!

  2. says

    I started my toddlers unloading the clean silverware from the dishwasher and putting it in the drawer. Helping with dishes PLUS a great sorting activity! They also put away their own cups & bowls because I keep them in a lower cabinet where they can reach.

    • Amy says

      Yes, we do the same! I put away the sharp utensils and then my 5 year old does the rest. He also puts away plastic cups/thermoses and Tupperware-type items, because we keep them in a lower cabinet as well.

    • Kristi B. says

      A GREAT sorting activity that my kids (ages 5 and 2) did just a little while ago! Especially good with 2 patterns of silverware as my 2 year old is learning the silverware with “flowers” goes in a different drawer!

  3. Rebecca says

    I also let my 2 1/2 year old put away tupperwares and such :) Another chore he does is to make his bed. It definitely doesn’t look perfect, but he knows how to pull the blankets up and straighten his stuffed animals. He gets SO excited to show us when he is done!

  4. April says

    My three year old also puts away the silverware. He also moves the laundry from the washer to the dryer ( front loaders) and pushes the buttons. It keeps him busy and he loves it.

  5. says

    My 21 month old helps set the table and empty the dishwasher. We give him the plastic plates and his silverware to put on the table. When we unload the dishwasher, I quick grab everything that is breakable and then let him bring everything to me.

    The biggest thing we’ve done is ask him to be a “helper.” It’s become a magic word for when we need him to do anything, like put toys away. He just loves it and feels so special.

    • Candy says

      I too have a young one, she is 23 months now but she was about 19 months when she started grabbing everything out of the dishwasher to help us put things away.
      If I give her an item to put up she will. She has learned, above, below, left and right. Crazy to fast they pick things up!

  6. says

    Sweeping! Especially if you can get a hold of a child-sized broom. If not, a little hand sweeper can be really fun for a toddler to sweep dust into a dust pan. Also, window washing- put water in a spray bottle and give them a rag- they will go to town! Not a lot of actual cleaning going on, but it builds the habit for later. :)

    • Stasi says

      I let our kids use the Swiffer Sweeper to sweep the dust from the floor. I just knock it down a few notches and it’s the perfect size for toddlers.

        • Emily O. says

          Mine tried to postpone bedtime tonight by reminding me that I’d told him we needed to Swiffer the floor today and hadn’t done it! He loves to “swiff,” as he calls it.

          With the window washing, a friend recently recommended mixing vinegar & water in the spray bottle, so it’s child-safe and actually gets some cleaning done. I’m not sure of the ratio.

  7. Kristen says

    My 19 month old’s special chore right now is laundry. She loves to help me load the washing machine by handing me the dirty clothes…and then helps me load the dryer with the wet clothes. I just hand one piece to her at a time to put in the dryer (which takes forever, but it’s so worth it to see how proud of herself she is after she finishes and shuts the door!). Cleanup is also a big one for us, we encourage her to help clean up the toys anytime we get ready to move on to something else. It took us a couple months of solid training to get to this point, but she is now very helpful!

  8. Jan says

    What age do you mean by toddler? Do you mean preschooler? I would think under age 2 is too little. But these are really good ideas thanks.

    • Stephanie says

      My 18 month old helps pick up the house and “helps” put away the silverware. She also loves to hold the dustpan when I sweep.

    • Lora says

      Our now 4 year-old has been helping with chores since he was 12 months old. We started by teaching him how to clean up his toys. It’s never too early if you are willing to do it with them!

      • Lacey says

        My two year old has helped us clean the table after dinner since he was about 10 – 11 months because he would throw out the trash… he does many more of these chores now, but throwing trash away and clothes into dirty laundry have always been his favorite chores!

        • Sarah says

          My son was the same way. He was fascinated by the trash and hamper since he was able to pull up to reach them. He also liked throwing things over the baby gate. Luckily my husband noticed his cellphone in the trash before he took the garbage out :/ and one time hubby’s wallet was lost for a week before he noticed it on the stairs leading to the basement (had been thrown over the baby gate). Yeah, hubby is a lot more careful with putting his valuables away and out of reach now :)

    • Missi says

      I teach Sunday School for 1 year olds and they love to help clean up! They throw away their disposable snack cups in the trash, left over bits from craft projects, etc. Their favorite way to help is when I give them a wet wipe to wipe off the table. When they get praise for helping, like, “You are such a good helper!” they keep wanting to do more!

      • Evelyn says

        Actually a toddler is considered 1 – 3 yrs of age and a preschooler is 3 – 5 yrs of age, and school age is 5 and up. :) my daughter has been helping put things in recycling, clean up her toys and feed the dogs since she was about 15 months old. She loves it. Now she is almost 3 and she also helps me with the younger children I babysit, she helps to load the dishwasher, and helps to take the garbage out.

        • Evelyn says

          Oh and not to mention dressing herself, brushing her teeth, throwing diapers out, and cleaning up her own room, as someone else mentioned.

  9. Cynthia says

    One I always gave my son was to pick up or straighten pillows in the living room/den.

  10. Joy says

    We load the utensils in the dishwasher basket already sorted. All of our children were responsible for putting the silverware away beginning at age 2.

    Our children have their own dishes that go in a rubbermaid drawer cart. Starting at age 3, they are responsible for setting their place at the table and putting their clean dishes away.

    Starting at age 4 our children matched clean socks. Not only do they know their colors, they can recognize pattern & texture differences and sort by owner.

  11. ENash says

    My 2-year-old loves to use our little hand-held Dirt Devil. She vacuums under her seat after meals (and any other places/times we need it). She also takes laundry out of the dryer, puts away some dishes, sets silverware and napkins on the table (not neatly, but it’s done!), and cleans up her toys. She LOVES to be called “my helpful girl” :)

    • yvonne says

      We love the dust buster type thing as well. I always have them do the hair around the edges of the bathroom!

    • says

      My son’s favorite chore was running the “sweeper” – he started when he was 2 and now at 6 is in charge of vacuuming in the house! And he does a wonderful job. He also loves to wash dishes – which we started him on at about that age too – go figure! My MIL took a ton of photos one year because he _insisted_ on washing all the pots and pans after Thanksgiving Dinner (he was 3). It was hysterical, but the pans got washed (he’s very thorough) and we got to listen to a finally soaking wet 3-year-old belt out songs while the pots got washed.

  12. Kay says

    Sweep! My 21 month old has wanted to sweep practically since he started walking. I removed the extensions from a swiffer and it’s the perfect size. He will want to swiffer multiple times a day. The only problem is he usually wants me to sweep with him! He also will help with wiping the front of the counters and the baseboards along with laundry, picking up toys, etc. We wants to help with anything we’re doing, so we encourage it.

  13. says

    Our kids get their first chores as soon as they can walk, about 1yo. We start them off with being responsible for throwing away their dirty diapers after being changed and putting away kitchen towel/washcloths and rags. Those are all kept in low drawers so that they can reach them. It means I have the most cluttered towel drawer in the world when there are toddlers in my house, but I’d rather have a messy drawer and kids who are learning to pull their weight in the family than a tidy drawer. :)

  14. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says

    Great minds think alike, I was going to pose that question during my reading time!

    I also was wondering what chores are the “part of the family” chores and which ones to pay them for. Do you just have a list with what they can earn for each one and they CHOOSE whether to do it? How much do you pay Silas?

    • Amanda says

      I’m having the same problem figuring out which ones are “part of family” and which ones are paid chores.

      • Andrea says

        I think those things are for each family to decide. My 5 yo son earned a dollar the other day for doing a bunch of little things for me (mostly helping to pick up my clutter, LOL). Other families might have paid more or less depending on their budget.

  15. says

    A toddler is a child between the ages of 12-35 months, so a 1 year old or 2 year old. :)
    My one-year-old loves to wipe off the kitchen table and chairs-I give her a wet dishcloth and she just goes to town! I love the list-these are definitely the best things that I have found, too!
    Another thing that my toddler loves is when we fold laundry. I stand in one room and fold each piece and she delivers each thing to her siblings as I direct her “take this pair to sissy,” etc. She literally runs it back and forth as fast as I can fold it! LOL (Plus the laundry gets folded and put away quickly without a ton of piles to distribute). :)

  16. says

    When my son was about 2, I taught him how to strip the sheets off his bed for laundry day. He absolutely loved the job! He is now 8 and strips all of the beds in the house every Monday morning for laundry day and he still loves the job.

  17. TammyT says

    I taught mine around 4 years old to start carrying their own dishes to the kitchen.. after the meal… AND the 5 year old wanted a dog… so he ‘fed’ the dog. Now he’s 12 and loves his dog still, runs her, feeds her, takes her out without me saying anything. Both children when leaving the table now…. not only carry their dishes but everyone else’s to the kitchen, leaving me to deal with the food. Both unload the dishwasher for me too….. although recently .. one unloads the ‘top’ and the other unloads the “bottom’ (personally I”m just happy its done.. its my least favorite job. :P

  18. Fallon says

    I was a toddler teacher for many years and my kids loved helping me wipe tables, toys, walls, doors.. I just sprayed soapy water and they wiped it with a paper towel. The had a blast and asked to help me quite often!

  19. Kate L says

    My 5 year old is responsible for stocking the bathrooms with toilet paper. He has to put a specific number of rolls in each bathroom.

  20. Katy says

    All my dishes and glasses used to be in a bottom cupboard so toddlers could empty the dishwasher. My 10yo still needs to have brushing teeth and hair on her chore chart so don’t get to thinking they might not need to be reminded after a while ;)

    Advice I received from a veteran mom was to read this book: http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Your-Kids-Work-Home/dp/0312301472 It probably isn’t outdated yet.

  21. Brittany says

    I’ve found if i tell my toddler to do something it may or may not get done. BUT if i do something with him and ask for a helper, he LOVES to help. he is good at loading laundry, wiping windows, dusting, putting crayons/toys away, putting his dishes in the sink when he is done, throwing things in the trash for me…

  22. says

    Love your advice to shower them with encouragement! I’ve found that I can plead all day long, but if I see any of my kids (even my older ones), even going slightly in the right direction, and then heap a load of praise on them, they always end up making the right choice.

    (It worked tonight at Target when we needed to leave but they weren’t quite convinced… my middle child started one foot in the right direction and just by me saying “wow Caroline, you’re doing such a great job listening, I’m so proud of you!”, my younger daughter hurried to listen so she would get a little praise too. :)

  23. says

    All three of my children enjoy helping around the house. My toddler loves to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, find the clean socks from the clean clothes when pulled from the dryer, put the napkins and silverware on the table at meal time, and water our garden. She also helps with the cleaning, meal prep, and organizing her toys after play.

    Including my children in the maintenance of our household helps them see how much work it is to clean up. I often find that my house stays cleaner after they help than if I do the cleaning myself. =)

  24. Sarah says

    My son has to pick up his toys and i also give him a cup full of cat food to feed our cat. He really enjoys that.

  25. Jessica says

    From a very young age my kids have loved using baby wipes to help clean and wipe down things.

  26. Lori says

    Ryan likes to match up his Dad’s big clean socks when they come out of the dryer. He calls it “makin’ bacon.” He lays them all out on the bed and then finds the matches. I guess the darker ones do kind of look like bacon!

  27. says

    My children are now 6, but when they were 2-3yrs we started them with things like: putting laundry in the hamper, dishes in the sink, hanging up the jackets and backpacks, putting toys away (started that one earlier!). They also started helping us with larger chores – dusting (mircofiber rags are great!), sweeping (hand held with connecting pan), washing non-breakable or sharp things or rinsing the dishes, matching socks, and transferring laundry from washer to dryer. I mentioned above that my son loved to run the hand-held vacuum. Now he vacuums the whole house and LOVES to wash the dishes. My daugther is a tidier and loves to help with the laundry.

    Great Post Crystal!
    Lea

  28. Courtney says

    My 20 month old son looooves to clean the toilet! Every ime we are in the bathroom,meh grabs the brush and starts “scrubbing” the toilet. It’s pretty cute! Healso likes to help sweep, help load the washer and dryer (can be slightly disastrous if he starts mixing wet, dry, clean, and dirty) and he likes throwing things in the trash. I never actually thought of it as chores, thou, just something he likes to do! Oh, he also really loves the feather duster!

  29. says

    I apologize if this was mentioned earlier, but we just ordered Accountable Kids kits for our four youngest children, ages 11 to 4. I’m excited to get it going with them. We start tomorrow actually and I’m expecting great things. :) If you want to check it out, here’s the website: http://www.accountablekids.com.

  30. Amy says

    Laundry is a great chore for toddlers. You have to sort the clothes and start the machines, of course, but they can put sorted dirty clothes into the washing machine, washed clothes into the dryer, and dried clothes wherever you fold. They need a little guidance, of course, so that you don’t end up with dirty or wet clothes in your pile of things to fold (ask me how I know!), but even a slightly older child can be the person who helps them. My 2 and 4 year olds work together to do those jobs all the time, and they do a fantastic job. I even trained my 9 year old to start the washing machine (I give him instructions with each load like “cold/cold delicates”), so now all I do is sort. I think I have about 99% confidence in my 9 year old’s ability to sort, but that 1% could end up costing us a lot. I do let my kids gather together loads of towels, though.

  31. says

    I keep the kids’ dishes down low in the kitchen so they can get them out and help set the table and also empty the dishwasher. In our current abode, all three kids are in one room. They have 3 baskets for laundry and sort their clothes as they take them off. They also know how to hang things to dry, fold, and put things away.

  32. Ashley P says

    I was doing my own laundry and the dishes by the time I was 3 or 4. I had a step stool in front of the washer, and I put my clothes in. Grandma taught me how to turn the knob and push the button to start it, and showed me how to measure the detergent. (She always supervised me while doing this. Usually I was putting my clothes in as she emptied the dryer.) When the clothes were done, I got back on the stool, and pulled the clothes out. We had a drop-door style dryer. I would open the dryer door, and drop my clothes on the door a little at a time, then get down and close the door, and the clothes would slide in. I’d keep going until the washer was empty. Our washer wasn’t very deep, so it was easy for me to reach.

    I also washed the family dishes, minus any glass or knives.

    Another chore I had centered around my grandfather’s business. He was a terrible bookkeeper, and had stacks of bills everywhere. So one every few months, my grandmother would gather up all the bills from his office. She showed me the logos in the corner for each company, and told me to sort the bills by the little picture. (Phone bill in one pile, water bill in another, etc., etc.) I thought it was fun.

    But my favorite chore was cleaning out the cupboard and putting away canned goods after grocery shopping. My kid brother and I would play “store”. One of us would sit in front of the cupboard and be the cashier. The other would sit on the other side of the kitchen and roll the cans toward the cashier. The cashier (usually me, since I was older) would find the spot in the cupboard where the can belonged. (Grandma always organized her cupboard with canned fruit on one side, canned veggies on the other) and the cashier would pick up the can and say “Beep!” like the scanner at the checkout, and put the can away. Sure, grandma could have done it faster herself, but she wanted us kids to have a little fun, too!

  33. Elizabeth says

    This isn’t really a recommended chore, but a funny story. Our English Pointer has a very long, thin tail that he whips around when he is excited. Occasionally, he hits the end of it and it breaks open and sprays blood EVERYWHERE. The house always looks like a CSI episiode when this happens (the vets call it “Happy Tail”). One time when my son was about 14 months old we had a particularly bad run of it and he must have seen me clean up from it one too many times because I came into the kitchen (after realizing it had been too quiet for too long) and my son had a rag and was scrubbing at the blood stains on the wall. Too funny! I gave him a small bucket and we spent a happy 20 minutes cleaning up (maybe the ONLY time I’ve actually enjoyed the job!).

    Kids are capable of a lot more than we give them credit for sometime!

  34. Sarah says

    Our 3-year old has these “chores” right now:

    1. Clearing his place at the table after a meal. Even though he’s too little still to see into the sink, he loves tossing his plastic dishes into the sink. I scrape the leftover food off later :)

    2. Get dressed. He still needs help with his shirt, but can put on his underwear, pants, socks, and shoes all by himself.

    3. Brush Teeth. He has a go, and then it’s my “turn”. He’s been brushing his own teeth since probably 18 months, although I didn’t start having “mom’s turn” until he was at least 2.5 year (at 18 months, he spent half the time sucking water off the toothbrush, but it set the habit, and when I brush my teeth with him and visually show him, he’s slowly gotten better with LOTS of coaching). The same goes for flossing (I know, 3 seems young for flossing, but his pediatric dentist recommended it recently since his bottom teeth are pretty close together); he get an attempt while mommy flosses her teeth with her own flosser, then it’s “mommy’s turn” to floss his teeth.

    4. Pick up his room. We keep the toys in his room quite limited so this doesn’t get overwhelming. A pretty regular chore, since he tends to trash his room during “quiet time” (dumps clothes out of the hamper, dumps the 10 books out of their bin, “drives” his car-shaped toddler bed around the room, and even overturns his mattress out of the bed some days). So the rule is he can’t come out of “quiet time” until after he “cleans his room”.

    5. Cleaning up his own mess. Yes, he often needs a little help to make sure this is done properly, but for the most part I like him to wipe up his own spills and such.

    6. Throwing his pee diapers away. Like another comment, he’s been doing this pretty much since he could walk. At age 2, he was fetching his own diapers and wipes out of a low drawer for a diaper change, then putting them back in the drawer when we were done. I’ve got to credit hubby for thinking up this chore, though.

  35. Ginny says

    That age is perfect for the “down low” jobs – wiping table and chair legs, baseboards, living room chair rungs, etc. All jobs that need to be done, but having someone already at that level to do them is wonderful!

  36. Sarah says

    Have a 2 year old carry TP and paper towels and light stuff like that in when you go grocery shopping. Have them carry out the tiny bathroom trash can bag when you carry out the larger kitchen trash can bag. Get them use to doing the types of chores they will do later.

    I am glad to see so many tips are working for others. As a 60 year old lady still raising littles I do know a few tricks.

  37. Sarah says

    Have a 2 year old carry TP and paper towels and light stuff like that in when you go grocery shopping. Have them carry out the tiny bathroom trash can bag when you carry out the larger kitchen trash can bag. Get them use to doing the types of chores they will do later.

    I am glad to see so many tips are working for others. As a 60 year old lady still raising littles I do know a few tricks.

    The main idea is to pair things down and get them participating.
    Paid chores and chores just for being a family member is a great system and it works!
    Just like in the real world we have to work x hours to pay for the things we need and x hours for the things we want.

  38. KimH says

    When my daughter was 2.5, she was making her own pretty bed, arranging all her stuffed animals on the headboard of it, and cleaning her room, including dusting, with no help from me. We always just made a habit of doing these things & I showed her how & away she went on her own.

    My other daughter wouldnt make her bed to save either of our lives.. Shes 28 now & probably still doesnt. ;)

    One of my Sorta-Grand-daughters was 2 when she started helping me (Nana) with the dishes.. She really loves playing with the water sprayer, and I think its a great way to get them to help.
    At first, she would rinse, then she progressed to washing cups, bowls, & silver ware.. Shes 6 now & still has fun washing dishes.. And I let her every time she wants to. Sure.. there might be a mop coming out afterwards, but its a lot of fun for her, I enjoy watching her have so much fun and the floor probably needs mopped anyways.. Wonder if she’ll like to do that one of these days. ;)

  39. elizabeth says

    I just love your blog! Here are a few things my 2 and 4 year olds love to do:

    *get eggs in the morning and let the chickens out
    *use the hose on the vacuum to clean crumbs off the table and around base boards
    *they love to put clothes on hangers
    *washing non breakable dishes…the bubbles are fun!
    *hold the dustpan while I sweep