Cooking with Kids
In this fast-paced day and age, one of the last things that you may think of as a parent is having your toddler help you with dinner, or a mid-day snack for that matter. For some, it’s scarier than any ghoul or goblin soon to be out this Halloween. When we get home from a long day, the last thing we want to do is to have the toddler in the kitchen. We want a meal fast, hot and now. We don’t want to think about cleaning up half a cup of flour or sugar that missed its mark. Nonetheless, for our little toddler, there is a lot to be gained by helping in the kitchen.
First of all, they learn a sense of accomplishment. There is a process to cooking that rewards even us as adults. Helping the family with “an important job” builds esteem and confidence within the family system, so think about how proud your little one can feel when she has helped you with dinner for everyone.
It can create wonderful and fond memories for your child. Remember, it’s those little moments that mean so much. Many of us may have memories of sitting on the counter, pouring in an ingredient and watching the mixers whirl as mother or grandmother smiles contently (hiding, we’re certain, their fear of something being knocked off the counter).
Also, cooking can be a great introduction into simple math and science skills. When two ingredients are mixed, it changes the flavor. Two cups of flour and one cup of sugar make three cups, etc. They learn to master fine motor skills, and we learn to have patience. Other important things to learn are making sure hands are clean, food is washed, and that after we cook, we clean up. It doesn’t have to be a chore, we can make it fun, and it’s for the whole family.
Before getting started, make sure that there is ample time so you are not rushed. Don’t have their first experience with cooking with you cause frustration and a sense of anxiety. Start on a Saturday morning mixing pancake mix. While you are in charge of the flipping, of course, allow them to bring plates and silverware to the table (plastic, unbreakable plates are recommended J). Let everyone know how good they did mixing the cakes.
There are some simple and healthy things to have for dinner that your toddler can help you with, but just make sure you have the time, are prepared for a mess, and that you tell your little one how proud of them you are.
For some fun ideas, try searching these and other “Cooking with Toddlers” websites: