Whatever age your child is, getting them in the kitchen can be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone involved. With a little time, creativity and some extra cleaning up, children can help make all sorts of delicious healthy food with you – engaging their interest, teaching them new skills and helping them to understand the importance of a well-balanced diet.
When to start:
There’s no right age to get children in the kitchen but many chefs believe it’s never too early. If you have a baby you can try putting them in a bouncer or high chair to watch you prepare food – they may like the sound of chopping vegetables, or to reach out and touch objects such as a wooden spoon or a metal sieve.
For toddlers and upwards, you can start by letting them do small jobs with you – such as measuring out spoonfuls of flour and tipping them into a bowl, or cracking eggs for a cake.
It’s good to be careful in the kitchen but try and also let your young children be independent. There are lots of great tools designed specifically for children in the kitchen so don’t shy away completely from letting them develop skills such as chopping vegetables with a knife.
Benefits of teaching children cooking skills
- Involving your child in the kitchen wherever possible is a great way to engage their interest in food and eating well. Some of the many benefits of teaching your child about cooking as early as possible include:
- Developing their palate by exposing them to multiple tastes and smells. Encourage them to try ingredients as they add them in or to smell herbs and spices.
- Developing their fine motor skills with tasks such as stirring, rolling, measuring and spreading and by teaching them to use equipment such as spoons, knives, rolling pins and cookie cutters.
- Developing their language skills by talking through the process of what you’re doing and teaching them new words and terms. Older children can work through a recipe together using the photos and help from an adult.
- Developing their counting skills by counting out spoons, measuring amounts, doubling or halving recipes.
- Building confidence by encouraging them to try out new skills or to attempt to problem solve if things don’t turn out right the first time.
- Building on relationships – quality time in the kitchen together is something that children really value with an adult. Whether it’s one on one or with a number of children, cooking together can help to create really special bonds.
Top 5 healthy snacks to cook with children:
There are tonnes of great recipes out there for cooking with children, but here are our top five ideas to get you started:
- Cheese and Broccoli scones
- Fruit Salad
- Homemade pizzas
- Scrambled eggs
- Veggie muffins
For more recipes, check out our Allergy-Friendly recipe list here.