A fundamental part of human development is food. By letting your kids help cook, you’re giving them a tool that will keep them healthy throughout their lives.
We share these activities with you, adapted to the age and abilities of the children, so that you can enjoy the benefits of cooking with them and understand why it is good for your children to help you. So whether your child is 2 or 10 years old, you can train a little sous-chef!
cooking with children, from toddlers to teenagers, has many benefits. In addition to having fun, cooking with your child:
- It gives you the opportunity to introduce him to fresh and healthy foods.
- It helps him learn what food looks like and where it comes from.
- Develop healthy eating habits because you’re more likely to try the food you helped cook.
- Learn about family traditions, recipes and foods.
- He prepares her to cook for him when he is home alone and hungry.
- Develop their math skills, for example when measuring liquid in a jar or counting eggs for a cake.
- Learn new words and increase your vocabulary when you read a recipe together.
It’s also a great way to spend more time with your little one and share the responsibility of cooking for the family.
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Cooking with 2 year olds
Almost anything involving a small child takes time and patience. Therefore, it’s best to choose short and simple cooking tasks that match your little one’s abilities and attention span. For example, it can help you:
- Wash fruits and vegetables
- take things out of the fridge
- Pass the dishes (not the knives)
- Mix ingredients or mix salads.
Simple recipes like a fruit smoothie and green salad are good because they’re easy to make, don’t take a lot of time, and include lots of interesting colors and textures.
If your little one loses interest, or gets tired of cooking, it’s time to thank them for their help and don’t expect everything to be perfect!
Cooking with children from 3 to 5 years old
With preschoolers you can talk about which foods are healthy, why and where they come from. You can also involve them in buying healthy foods by choosing them lunches and preparing simple meals.
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This is a good age to introduce recipes that involve “building”. What do I mean by that? Your little one will be happy to put the ingredients on a sandwich for lunch or put yogurt, cereal and fruit in a cup to make a delicious and healthy dessert.
They may try to do any of the following:
- Homemade dressings for your salads.
- Fruit salad with yogurt.
- Healthy Muffins: Let your little one add raisins, chopped fruit, mashed bananas, boiled pumpkin or grated carrot and mix.
- Vegetables: Let your child help you count, peel and chop (using a butter knife) the vegetables they need for the meal.
- Mashed potatoes: Let your little one (under close supervision) use the mash and mix the potatoes with herbs or another vegetable like carrots.
Cooking also helps preschoolers learn how to wash vegetables and fruits, as well as some basic measuring and counting concepts. They can also learn some new words, like “grill, peel, cut, and delicious.”
And preschoolers are already quite capable of helping you with tasks like setting the table, serving food, and cleaning the table after meals.
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Cooking with school children
If your children are in this age group, they will probably want to help in the kitchen and make suggestions about the menu. This is also a good age to involve your child in choosing fruits, vegetables, meats, seeds and other ingredients for meals. You can teach your child what fruits and vegetables are in season.
At this age your child can choose and pack his own lunch box. If you involve your child in choosing and preparing food, you have a much better chance that he will eat the food you prepared together and be less fussy when it comes to eating.
And it’s time to try more complex cooking recipes like:
- Fried chicken or vegetables
- Tuna or chicken salad
- pancakes and eggs
Your child can help with the dishes and clean and clear the table, however, you will need to help your child with any tasks that involve the oven, stove or hot liquids; and watch carefully if you use sharp knives, graters, peelers or other tools.
As they get older, they can get creative and modify some recipes and start learning how to budget in the kitchen, use leftovers from the fridge and pantry, or plan a full meal for the whole family and calculate the cost.
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Kitchens can be dangerous places for children of all ages. Hot knives, utensils, and stoves are a hazard without supervision, as is keeping a pot of hot water in the sink when a small person is nearby.
Some basic safety rules will help keep your kitchen safe:
- Make sure that the handles of pots and pans do not protrude over the edge of the stove or work surfaces to avoid accidentally knocking them over and spilling the contents.
- The soil must be dry, without fat or water. If there is a spill, clean it up immediately.
- Rearrange everything and move dangerous objects out of the reach of children, they must be kept with safety locks:
- Cleaning products
- sharp knives
- Plastic bag
- glasses and glass plates
All children develop at different rates, so these age ranges are only suggestions. Your child may be ready to do a certain task earlier or later than we suggest.
Of course, follow your instincts! Letting them spend time in the kitchen, cooking together and sharing a space is a pleasure, as long as we have the necessary measures to avoid danger.
There are never a few tips to guarantee the smiles and health of our children, so if you use any other tricks that can come in handy, don’t hesitate to share them! We would like to read you on our social networks: fb ig
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This entry was first published in Baby Daily and you can find it here.