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Cooking with Children

iStock_cooking_kids_1.jpgIn most households the kitchen is where the action is and if you are open to it – toddlers and young children will be passionate about helping you in the kitchen. Sharing your kitchen with your child encourages an interest in food, offers a fabulous environment for learning and is a fun way to encourage lifelong healthy eating habits.  

Be prepared that involving children in the kitchen may mean mess, less than perfect presentation and may be time consuming BUT the payoffs for you and your child definitely make it all worthwhile. Rather than cooking being just another chore…it can become play and fun for all the family.

Toddlers and young children can be involved in all aspects of the cooking process including shopping, making menu suggestions, preparing, cooking, setting the table, and cleaning up. Think about which parts of the process your child can be involved in based on their age and development for instance a toddler may be able to help you whisk or be an ‘irreplaceable assistant’(counting the eggs as you break them into a bowl) whilst a teenager may be responsible for all aspects of cooking the meal for the family. 

 


Benefits of Cooking with your Child 

By baking and cooking delicious meals with your child you will help them to -

  • Develop an interest and an understanding of food - learn about food, where it comes from, why we need it, how food helps us grow, stay strong etc.
  • Understand responsibility and sharing of domestic tasks
  • Appreciate Safety - obviously there’s a limit to what children can do safely in the kitchen, depending on their age.   By cooking together your child can gain an appreciation of the importance of safety (oven = heat = burns, knives = sharp = cuts)
  • Learning opportunities - vocabulary/new words, decision making, counting/estimating/measuring (maths), watching cakes rise/beating egg whites (science)
  • Learn the life skill of cooking and a wealth of other new skills for instance how to mix, beat, fold, slice, peel, grate,
  • Develop healthy eating habits and foster a love of good wholesome food
  • Food = Family = Fun

Cooking together provides a fantastic opportunity to empower your children. By giving them choices and responsibility you will help to develop their creativity and independence as little people.   It’s also a great opportunity to spend quality time together, to  chat together – and if they’re genuinely involved you will have their undivided attention.

As an added bonus, cooking together is a fantastic way to encourage fussy eaters. It has been our experience that our fussy eaters are far more likely to taste and eat something if they’ve created it themselves. 

 

Yum Yum Tips
  • With todays’ hectic lifestyle, it may not be practical to cook together every meal or everyday. Plan sometime cooking together when you have plenty of time and can really make the most of it. 
  • Maybe make Friday night a pizza and movie night where you let your children make their own pizza (from a range of healthy choices) and then all sit down together…eat your pizza creations and then watch a movie. Or plan a weekend picnic as a family where you prepare, cook and pack all the food for the picnic together.  
 

Yum Yum Experience

'My 2 & 1/2 year old consistently eats better if she has had a part in the creation of the meal.  Making a pizza together is always fun - I put the toppings out (all healthy) and she chooses what she wants on her pizza.  She will happily eat vegetables (like pumpkin, mushrooms,and tomato) which she generally isn't keen to eat.' (Monique)

  • Give your children tools to help cook with you. Yum Yum Kids has a fabulous range of cooking accessories just for kids including baking sets, aprons and a step stool.  These are great for kids to help them cook with you in the kitchen and make fantastic gifts. Remember, make them part of the process and they’ll gain new skills, follow directions and best of all – really start to enjoy their food.

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