Cooking with Kids: How to get started
We all know mealtime can sometimes be a challenging and time consuming pursuit. This is particularly true when one day your child eats anything you put in front of them, and the next they’re refusing anything less than their version of perfection. It is unsustainable to become a short order cook and try to navigate the daily whims of a hungry child. So, we’ve put together a few tips on cooking with kids. It’s time to turn the foodie tantrum into an activity you’ll both love. There’s something special about sitting down to eat a meal that you’ve created together. By learning how to get started with even the littlest chefs, cooking will be one more rainy day indoor activity to add to your list!
Here’s how to get your very own little sous chef started!
Bake up a storm
It’s messy. It’s chaotic. Kids love the tactile sensations and shiny utensils that mix, roll and shape yummy to-be-baked goods. By involving children in the baking process, they are more likely to feel included, valued and genuinely look forward to the finished product.
Although your 6-month old may not be quite ready to mix ingredients, you can still involve them with sensory activities like smelling spices.
Consider an early introduction to cooking
Babies and infants are observant little beings who love to be included. Have them nearby or at the counter with you when you prep food. If they are old enough to hold an item give them a variety of safe kitchen tools such as a wooden spoon or measuring cups. Rotate the items to give yourself time to slice and dice up your ingredients. If appropriate, give them a taster of some of the ingredients that you are preparing.
Having them involved from a young age will help your little ones get acquainted to the routine and set the foundation for getting involved.
Show them you trust them
Offering your kiddos an opportunity to practice and develop their gross motor skills by washing, mixing and pouring are great ways build confidence and trust. As their skills progress, have them practice some fine motor skills such as peeling carrots, grating cheese or shredding zucchini. Invest in some kid friendly equipment like a little kid friendly kitchen knife, a good peeler and food grater that you and your child are comfortable with. These tools will keep little hands busy while you keep the task moving! For older kids have them measure out the ingredients or stir the ingredients on the stove after going over how to safely do so.
Part of successfully cooking with kids is ensuring you have the right equipment. Check out Exclusiv Style, a local family owned business in East Vancouver, who creates learning towers. Equipment like a learning tower will ensure your little one can stand safely at the counter with you.
Make the experience playful and fun
Create an assembly line! If you have multiple children delegate tasks. Try having the younger one peel or grate while the older ones sift and measure. Keep in mind that offering a plastic easy bake knife with and chopping board to a toddler is like handing a teenager the keys to family car — nerve wracking, exciting and leads to new skills when guided safely. Try making a game out of organizing, stacking or displaying ingredients in satisfying ways. Children often enjoy the sense of accomplishment and pride when making a log cabin out of carrots sticks.
Check out Indigo or your nearest Ikea for a range of kid friendly kitchen tools.
Culinary creations make memories
At first there may be some extra time involved with cooking with the kids , but once everyone is accustomed to the idea it may even make dinner prep faster! Cooking is messy no matter what. Having your little ones engaged in the experience will provide you with endless conversations. It also gives you both the chance to create a nourishing meal that you can enjoy together!
Cooking with kids isn’t your thing?
Leave it to the professionals and sign up the kids up for a cooking class. Little Kitchen Academy in Point Grey offer sessions Monday through to Sunday to a variety of age groups starting from 3 years old to 13+.
Justine is a full-time mom to three characterful little humans. Justine loves to travel with her family, sharing their journeys along the way, capturing everything from Westcoast lifestyle to home renovations to daily mom-life wins and fails. When time permits, Justine also moonlights as a commercial actor. Follow her adventures @the.summers.life.