The Duchess of Cambridge made fruit kebabs with toddlers as she joined a cooking workshop during a visit to a MumSpace playgroup.
Kate met families at the activity and wellbeing session run by PACT (Parents and Communities Together) in Southwark, south London, on Tuesday.
The duchess said she wished she had been able to attend a similar group when she was a new mother to her first child Prince George, saying she would have “learned a lot”.
PACT works to combat isolation, support parental mental health and engage hard-to-reach communities in accessing health and social services.
The duchess, a champion of research into early childhood, met mothers and youngsters to hear about the challenges they are facing.
Kate helped young children chop and eat fruit to the soundtrack of a catchy song about bananas.
She spoke to parents about the importance of a “holistic” system to ensure isolated new mothers and their babies do not “fall through the cracks”.
Hearing how PACT runs “Parent University” courses for expectant parents and those with newborn babies, the duchess heard how mothers were learning about social and emotional development as well as the basics about labour and feeding.
Josephine Namusisi-Riley, who leads PACT in Southwark, and health visitor Simonette Guerra described how the course dealt with the importance of the early years, including brain and language development and play.
“As a new mum I would have liked that,” the duchess said. “I think I would have learned a lot. The importance of play.”
She added: “What’s so fantastic is seeing the amazing work that’s going on here. That support you’re providing is amazing. The science backs it up.”
Kate helped two-year-old Jonathan – who was wearing a smart shirt and celebrating his birthday – chop up his banana.
His grandmother Grace told her that the sessions featured “a lot of children and many, many toys”.
“Has it helped your relationship with him?” Kate asked, breaking off to say “Good job” to the youngster who was eating nicely.
Going to shake the hand of one mother, she laughed: “Sorry, now I’ve got a sticky hand,” before pulling a face of amazement at Zoe, a nearby one-year-old, who was busy eating strawberries.
“I can see why everyone likes it here,” Kate added.
Kate watched children climbing up a frame to go down a slide, and accepted a ‘cup of tea’, full of kinetic sand, from a boy called George – the same name as her eldest.
Playing along, she took her mask off for a pretend sip before saying thank you and passing it back to him.
The duchess spent time with Laura Barber, mother of two-year-old Rebecca, who talked about mental health and the challenges of parenting in isolation.
Ms Barber said: “She said if she had had something like this, she would have appreciated it too.”
MumSpace playgroups are free weekly sessions organised by PACT to allow mothers to share the ups and downs of motherhood.
Kate, who has set up the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, focuses much of her charity work on early childhood and how it affects outcomes in later life.