Maggie here, founder of Feast & Fettle and mom to 2 young boys, Q (3.5) and Des (1).
We all know that new mom pressure around feeding is real, and I was definitely sweating it when we started solids with Q. I wanted him to be just as excited about food as I am and it was important that we planted the seeds for him to be an adventurous eater.
We started with Q by letting him touch many of the ingredients, exploring the texture and sometimes taste. By the time he was 2.5, Q could crack eggs, scramble, salt, and fry them in a pan with supervision. He would proudly serve us breakfast and enjoy his eggs along with us. Now that he's is a toddler, we use cooking as a way to hedge our bets against "toddler pickiness". If he is involved in the preparation of a dish, he is far more likely to enthusiastically eat it.
Now our youngest, Des, is just about ready to start pitching in, so I wanted to share some tips on how to make cooking with your kids more fun and engaging.
5 Ways to Have Fun in the Kitchen With Your Kids
1. Set aside time
Planning intentional time to cook with your kids will make things way less stressful. Try to not include your kids when you're rushing around to get dinner on the table or preparing a special holiday meal. Cooking with kids is slow and things don’t always go as planned so giving yourself enough time for the activity is crucial.
2. Give them control
Plain and simple, kids like to do things themselves. They don’t want to watch us have all the fun and they prefer to be involved. This means planning ahead and having the right tools. We have a small cutting board, an apron, and kid-safe knives to make it safe and fun. My favorites are the kiddikutter brand. Having these knives gives me peace of mind and it helps him feel independent.
3. Make it a sensory experience
Let your kids touch the ingredients, smell the food and listen to the different cooking sounds during the activity. Developmentally, sensory play is critical for gross and fine motor development. Cooking is all about using your senses and having kids around is no different.
4. Use ingredients you want them to eat
Lots of kids are picky eaters and often they are expressing their budding independence through eating. When kids are involved in the cooking process they are more likely to eat foods they would not normally eat. If they're the ones cutting the vegetables, stirring the soup, or serving the tacos, you may notice them choosing a variety of foods that will surprise you.
5. Let things get messy
No surprise, cooking with kids is messy! Letting go and embracing the mess is important for the activity to be fun. Also, the final product isn’t going to be perfect - the pancakes will be misshapen and the cupcakes are going to have WAY too many sprinkles on them. This is about fun, not perfection!
If you're a little patient, you'll learn that one of the best ways to get kids interested in trying new things is by getting them involved in the process and having a little fun, and cooking is no different!
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