As touched on in a previous blog, teaching your kids how to cook is a fun and educational activity, especially when cold weather keeps the family indoors. There are many benefits to teaching your child to cook that include, but are not limited to:
- Teaching responsibility & safety
- Learning about nutrition
- Becoming less likely to be a picky eater
Kids can start learning how to cook as young as two years old. Unsurprisingly, more difficult tasks like chopping and measuring ingredients are more suited to older children with finer motor skills. Children 2 – 7 should be given simple tasks like:
- Crumbling bread
- Washing fruits and vegetables
- Pouring pre-measured ingredients into bowls and pans
Older children can be given more advanced tasks:
- Blending ingredients
- Chopping fruits and vegetables
- Using the stove and other appliances
Children can typically start using the stove with supervision at 12 years old but everyone matures and learns at different rates. Deciding on what task is appropriate for your child depends on how quickly they have learned, and their level of maturity.
Keeping kids safe in the kitchen is a concern for most parents. The first step towards teaching your child to cook is teaching them the rules of the kitchen and how to stay safe. This includes both food safety and how to handle cooking equipment. Before you begin cooking with your child, go over the basic rules of kitchen safety with them:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling food
- Don’t touch electrical appliances with wet hands
- Keep fingers away from knife blades
There are many affordable, child-safe knives available that will cut through food, but not damage skin like a metal blade will.
Learning About Nutrition
Omitting or forbidding treat foods completely makes children desire unhealthy food more and may cause them to binge on them when available. Therefore, when cooking with your child, alternate between treats like cookies with healthier recipes. This way, you will not only give your child a variety of choices, but teach them how to regulate their consumption of less-than-healthy foods.
Children Who Cook Have Broader Tastes
Children who participate in the food preparation process tend to eat a greater variety of foods. Children take pride in making their own meals, and will eat what they have made. Take your child grocery shopping with you and allow them to pick out their own fruits and vegetables to incorporate into their cooking.
Children will make messes and mistakes. When it happens, do not get frustrated with your child.Keep the mood light and gently correct them. Assure them that mistakes will happen from time to time and that they are part of how everyone learns (even parents!). Also try to see messes in a positive light: they can be used as a teaching tool on how to better keep the kitchen clean and tidy.