Why cook together?
You might be wondering why you would get your child involved in cooking when you could get the dinner on faster by yourself. However, getting your little ones involved in cooking can get them interested in eating a wide range of foods and trying things they might not usually eat.
It’s also a lovely way to spend time together and it helps them pick up skills including nutrition, maths and even science in a fun way that doesn’t feel like school. Plus, if you get them started young you’ll have a kitchen hand for life. Win, win!
Before you start
Kids need to be supervised in the kitchen and it’s helpful to set out rules such as washing hands and items they cannot touch such as the cooker knobs or knives. It’s good to talk about which kitchen tasks are for grown-ups and which are for kids and remind them as you go.
Have fun with your copy cat
We all know that our wee ones love copying us – put it to good use by getting them to “help” in the kitchen. Find a space where they can safely see what you’re doing and give them simple little things they can do.
It’s a fun way you can get them interested in trying out new foods. You can get them to mix things, wash fruit and vegetables, show them how to measure ingredients, or help you to put toppings onto a wrap or pizza.
If they’re starting to learn about colours, you can ask them to spot the colours they see as you’re cooking together.
Things may get a bit messy and you might need to remake a few things, but you may be surprised how many more foods your toddler will try because they’ve had a hand in making them.
Cooking with 3-4 year olds
1, 2, 3, 4 for fun in the kitchen
Pre-schoolers can take on little tasks in the kitchen for you, like counting the number of tomatoes to put into a bowl, mashing banana with a fork, tearing up lettuce, or sprinkling dried herbs or spices. Talk to them about what you’re doing. Show them how to do it a few times first, and then let them have a crack at it.
Pre-schoolers love ticking things off a list, so you can help them count things out and tick them off, like counting out the tablespoons of flour that go into a mix. You can also get them to point out the colours of the food – like the tomatoes or the egg yolk.
Let them lick the bowl
This one should go without saying, but unless you’re using raw meats, eggs or fish , your little chef gets dibs on licking the bowl!