While little ones can’t help in all areas of cooking due to safety constraints, they can still help to stir ingredients, get things out of cupboards, and tip the relevant foods into where you need them to go. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Cooking with your toddler might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you are looking for activities to keep them entertained, however it has many benefits, here are just a few...

An increased awareness of where food comes from: If you only ever give your toddler food once it’s ready and made, they won’t understand the process that goes into making a meal. If you encourage them to help you, they will gain an insight into the different stages that precede the finished product. 

It gets them interested early: If you want your child to be an active contributor when it comes to mealtimes and maybe even be responsible for making food for the family once they are older, this is a great place to start. Helping you in the kitchen will become an integral part of their day rather than a chore or a task that only parents do.

It helps them to use their senses: The smell, taste, look, sound and feel of foods in their raw state as well as their cooked state helps them to utilise all their senses in one sitting. Foods that are particularly fun to explore are things like dry pasta and rice, whole vegetables and flour, which is why a lot of these are used in sensory play sessions for babies. 

It introduces them to new foods: While they may happily tuck into a meal you regularly make, they will enjoy seeing all the ingredients before they are thrown in together in their original form. Their favourite meal might be spaghetti bolognese, but have they ever seen a whole onion or mushroom? If they enjoy crumble and custard for dessert, have they ever handled some raw oats?

It helps with their speech: If you name everything that you use in the kitchen, this will help them to learn new words for foods, for the equipment used in the preparation and the action. Toddlers may recognise a spoon, fork, plate and a knife, but in the kitchen you can teach them simple words like pan, mix, stir and pat for instance.  

It might inspire a hobby or career path: By introducing your child to cooking from a very young age, this could be something they carry with them into their teens and even later in life. Cooking or baking might become a firm hobby of theirs or they might even decide to pursue it professionally. Such activities pave the way for your toddler’s future and at the very least give them the necessary skills to feed themselves well once they grow up and leave home.

It’s a fun activity to bond over: There should be a balance of solo play for toddlers as well as things they can do with you as their parent. This gives them a sense of independence as well as an awareness of family time and togetherness and what better way to encourage the latter than by gathering in the heart of the home? 

The long and short of it is- toddlers love nothing more than getting messy. While you may not want to turn your kitchen into a canvas for your child’s first cooking attempts, they will enjoy covering your countertops with ingredients nevertheless. My advice is to go with the flow and embrace the process- just remember to have a cloth, some spray, a mop and a bucket to hand once it’s all over! 

Little Cooks Co is a monthly subscription based recipe kit that’s posted through the letterbox, direct to kids, in a neat 100% recyclable box with compostable packaging. The box is packed with all the natural and healthy dry ingredients of that month’s delicious and nutritious recipe for kids to bake in the home.

For more information visit www.littlecooksco.co.uk.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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