Cooking with your Toddler
Cooking is not only an important life skill, but it can also be a wonderful family bonding experience! By including your children in the kitchen while they are young, you’re instilling a love for cooking and nutrition early on.
This will help you all to gravitate toward cooking instead of eating out more. Not only is eating out more expensive, but it can also be much less healthy. We’ve got some tips for including your little one in the kitchen as well as a few kid-friendly meal ideas to help you get started.
- Start when she’s a baby. Babies can’t help yet, but the kitchen is full of sensory experiences that can expand her senses and awareness. Strap your little one into a high chair or play seat and talk her through as you prepare meals.
- Spend time in the kitchen together. Together is the key word here. Include your little one in any way you can! Pouring milk or cereal into a bowl, packing their lunch and helping select ingredients for meals is a great place to start. Including them in smaller ways helps prepare them for the bigger tasks. It’s never too soon to include your little one in the kitchen.
- Provide the right tools. Let’s admit it, getting to play with new and different gadgets is fun no matter what your age—but this is especially true for your toddler. Let her have a bowl and spoon to pretend to stir while you cook, or give her a plastic seasoning container to shake. As she grows and learns, you can provide more meaningful tasks and tools.
- Purchase kid-friendly knives. Yes! These exist! Just like new gadgets are always exciting, things that are “off limits” are even more exciting. Invest a few dollars in a special knife that’s designed for little ones so your toddler can join in on the chopping fun. Remember—supervision is still recommended for all kitchen tools!
- Give her meaningful tasks. Even if they play with gadgets and tools, still try to give them meaningful tasks like placing bread in the toaster or oven, sprinkling cheese on a dish or adding ingredients to a bowl for mixing. If you’re in a really great, patient mood, give them a potentially messy task and let her have fun!
Next, we’d love to share some ideas for meals that are easy for toddlers to help with. Keep in mind that each of these recipes has a few things in common: there isn’t an overwhelming number of ingredients, the dishes don’t take long to prepare, and they are kid-friendly so your little one will enjoy eating her creation!
- Casserole or lasagna: These are great for so many reasons! Layering is always fun, and most casseroles call for layering different ingredients. They’re also usually simple to make and you can sneak veggies in that your kids won’t taste!
- Salad: Not only is it a blast to chop all the colorful ingredients for a salad, but the tossing action is fun, too. Plus, your picky eater will enjoy these healthier foods since she helped to prepare it and can eat around the additions she doesn’t like!
- Pasta Dishes: Similar to casseroles and lasagna, pasta dishes are fantastic because of the different ingredients you get to mix in—especially if you make your own sauce. Your little one will love to see ingredients mix together and cheese melt to make a tasty sauce. Plus, you can pick any shape of pasta you want!