Bowls, baking and beyond: Cooking with toddlers
"I help mummy".
I often hear these words floating into the kitchen when I'm cooking dinner or have a few free minutes to bake.
When these occasions take place these days, my two-year-old always wants to help.
The thought of my kitchen resembling a war zone is always hard to bear, but I know she has to learn sometime.
So for now it's very much "baby steps".
Pouring dry ingredients into bowls, holding onto container lids and even some easy mixing are just the beginning for my eager little chef.
And knowing she is helping produces one satisfied smile.
If only that meant she’d actually eat her dinner, but that’s another story!
But even with all the fun there is a slight downside to sharing your kitchen with a budding master chef.
The hardest part is teaching our little ones that although cooking is fun, it comes with a dangerous aspect as well.
We had a close call with a VERY sharp knife and some quick little fingers, which could have been a disaster had I not stopped chopping the onion at the time.
There's also risks with boiling water, hot ovens, sharp edges and not to mention spices!
Yep there's no denying when it comes to little ones and cooking, you definitely need to be on your A game.
But if I’ve learnt anything in our kitchen experiences so far it’s that time and patience are important.
With that in mind I also found it’s a good idea to choose short and simple cooking tasks that match your toddler’s skills and attention span.
For example, toddlers can help out with:
washing fruit and vegetables
getting things from the fridge
handing over utensils
pouring ingredients (dry or wet it's up to you) into bowls
stirring cake mixes or tossing salads.
Simple recipes such as salads, mini quiches or small pizzas are good because they’re easy to prepare, don’t take long to make and involve lots of interesting colours and textures.
But I’ve also found that if your little one loses interest or gets tired of cooking, it’s a good idea to turn the focus on thanking them for helping and praising their efforts.
Don’t expect perfection!
There are also all sorts of things kids, big and small, can learn while helping with the cooking including:
what different foods look and feel like
where foods come from
how to get food ready for cooking
what new words mean – for example, whisk, peel, egg beater, grater
how to understand measuring and other number concepts
how to follow instructions in a recipe and do things step by step
AND most importantly how to wait patiently for that yummy cake to rise!
Now time to head back into the kitchen….
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