It’s never too early to get your kids in the kitchen! Letting your little ones be involved in the cooking process can help expose them to more foods, get them excited about cooking from a young age, and get them away from screens – doing something creative and fun. No matter what their age, kids can help out in so many ways. And although making a mess can be overwhelming, embracing the chaos can ultimately help your little ones have a wonderful experience, truly enjoy the kitchen, and create a really healthy relationship with food. It’s also a great way to spend more time with them!
Let’s dive into some ways to get those kiddos cooking!
How to engage kids
Tasting committee -A great way to get kids to eat something when they are hungry before a meal is to assign them as your tasting committee! Have them taste a few elements of the meal along the way. This gives them a chance to try something new, and feel like they are helping, which will ultimately make them more likely to eat their meal.
Waste helper -Throwing away food scraps throughout cooking is a repetitive task that helps little ones feel a sense of control and accomplishment, while also helping you out.
Sorting silverware - This low-risk activity can be a fun matching game for toddlers, while also keeping them engaged and focused in the kitchen!
Careful carrying - Being mindful while carrying objects is a very valuable skill to each little one. Have them bring you essential items like bowls, measuring cups or even ingredients, and be sure to give them tips on how to carry without spilling.
Pouring and measuring - Not only does helping to measure ingredients aid in the cooking process, it’s also a great sensory activity. This can be easily controlled by having them pour into a smaller bowl within a bigger bowl to catch those inevitable spills.
Other cooking activities for toddlers that can get them involved in the kitchen include chopping soft foods with a child-safe knife, washing produce, stirring batter, kneading dough, rolling mixtures into balls, and even cracking eggs (although messy, it can be very therapeutic for little hands).
Benefits of cooking with kids
Cooking with your toddler provides them with endless benefits. Aside from allowing them to feel accomplished by helping out, cooking is a sensory experience from beginning to end that is great for their development. It also helps them learn to better follow directions, improve upon their problem-solving skills, and teach basic math via measurements. It also helps to expand their vocabulary, by teaching them new words like ingredient names, utensils, and actions involved in cooking. Being exposed to all of the ingredients that are put into a meal is also a great way for picky eaters to expand their taste.
Tips for cooking with kid
We know that cooking with your toddler may not be easy! Here are some tips to help make the experience enjoyable for everyone:
1. Start small! Give toddlers a small task such as stirring or sprinkling in the dry ingredients.
2. Encourage play! Cooking should be fun for them, not a chore.
3. Place child-friendly items on the bottom shelf so they are able to get it themselves.
4. Teach and practice safety in the kitchen to ensure there are no accidents.
5. Get them their own kitchen play set!
6. Guide your toddler to use their 5 senses while cooking.
7. Plan for extra time.
8. Embrace the mess!
All in all, cooking with your toddler is a way to keep them engaged, help them learn new things, and create a bond with them. Think of it as creating memories you both can hold with you for a lifetime — while creating delicious recipes together!
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