Cooking is the skill that keeps on giving. Not only does it help you to nourish your body, but it can also introduce you to new flavours and textures, words, and cultures! Done meditatively alone or collaboratively in a shared space, cooking is an enriching activity at any age - even young childhood! But how old is old enough to start cooking? And where there are so many dangerous utensils and ingredients, where do you start to ensure that your child is having a good experience whilst staying safe? Read on for our top tips to introducing your toddler to cooking!
Read Your Recipes
Involving your child in preparing food according to a recipe is a great introduction to the basics of cooking as well as a good opportunity to help your child with literacy and maths skills! Simple things such as sounding out the words or counting ingredients one at a time encourage your child to develop processing skills and is a great way to bring in reading outside of story time!
Taste Test Together
Cooking is also a great chance to introduce children to new flavours and textures, especially if they are fussy eaters! Showing your child ingredients one by one and telling them about how they are good for you encourages children to look at food differently and can help them to understand the connection between cooked food and raw ingredients, which can in turn make it more appetising!
Boost their Confidence
Working together in the kitchen is an excellent opportunity for some positive reinforcement! Urge your child to take stock in small achievements and make a point of acknowledging the help that they have given in creating a meal. This will not only boost their confidence, but help them remember their achievements!
Start off Simple
It’s important to manage both your and your child’s expectations early on and to dole out tasks that they are physically able and safe to do. Great starting actions are things such as stirring mixed ingredients in a bowl, assembling prepared ingredients on a plate, tearing leaves for salads, or adding ingredients at your instruction. You can even enlist your toddler’s help with setting the table or portioning out food onto plates so that they’re interacting with the mealtime aspects of cooking, too! Choose tasks that can go slightly wrong without affecting the overall quality of the meal and be sure to be present and in control to help your child make any necessary adjustments without taking over! Check out our Mealtime range for inspiration for fun and functional table settings for your little one!
Whatever you choose to do, remember that it is a collaborative experience! While it might take your child a little while to grasp whichever new skills you’re teaching them, they’ll still be valuing time spent with you and absorbing lots of new information as they go!