If you’re looking at carving pumpkins this year with a toddler on board, you likely already know that it’s not going to be the neatest experience. Sure, you could put the pumpkin up on the counter and keep it completely out of reach. You could carve it yourself after your toddler is in bed for the evening, and keep him safely away from it from then on. Or…you could make it a learning experience.
Let your toddler dig his hands into the squishy pumpkin. Discuss the texture, and why you need to hollow the pumpkin out completely—even if they don’t understand what you’re saying now, it will be a good experience. Talk about the seeds, and what happens to them later—how they grow when they’re planted, and what they will turn into. You might even consider roasting them and allowing your toddler to try a taste.
Once all the guts have been cleaned out and your toddler has squished them to his heart’s content, consider taking them and putting them in a ziplock bag for further exploration. You won’t want to keep it around for too long—pumpkin gets pretty gross when it’s allowed to go bad, as anyone who has forgotten a jack-o-lantern on the front porch knows—but if you store it in the fridge, you might get a few more days out of it before you have to retire it completely. Just be sure that you tape the top of the bag closed, and if you’re using an off-brand bag or one with poor construction, you might want to add tape to support the seam as well—just in case! Your toddler can then enjoy hours of clean pumpkin play—maybe even enough to keep them entertained while you’re carving the pumpkin. (Or maybe not.)