Cooking with Kids
As parents, sometimes we choose not to involve our kids in the kitchen because we are in a hurry, we have other family members to take care of, or because we think that the kitchen is not a safe place for kids. Involving your kids in the kitchen has many benefits. When kids are helping you in the kitchen, they can learn concepts and skills that they will need when they start school. Washing, pouring, mixing, and spreading can help with motor skills. Naming objects and following directions helps with language skills. Measuring and counting helps with math skills. Understanding hot and cold, melting, browning, and evaporation helps with science skills. Finally, the time you spend with your child in the kitchen can help with their social skills.
To involve your kids in the kitchen, give them small tasks that are safe, interesting, and will not slow you down too much. Kids have a lot of energy. They don’t just want to watch you cook. They want to be involved!
Here are some ideas how you can involve your children in the kitchen:
Toddlers: Ask them to wash or scrub fruits or vegetables, tear lettuce or pieces of bread, snap vegetables like green beans or cauliflower.
Pre-school: Ask them to mix dry ingredients or batters, pour liquids, spread peanut butter, cut soft foods like bananas or olives with a dull butter knife or plastic knife.
School-age: Ask them to read the recipe to you, help measure ingredients using a measuring cup or spoon, make a list.
Lastly, here are a few tips to remember. Before starting, remind your child to wash his hands. Always supervise your children. Set grounds rules by telling them what is dangerous. Encourage them to help with cleaning and putting things away. Be open-minded and patient. Remember that although it can be messy, kids like to be in the kitchen because they just want to be with you!
Joy Ahrens is a Registered Dietitian for the WIC Nutrition Program. This program offers nutrition education, breastfeeding support, checks for healthy foods, and referrals to qualifying women, infants and children under five years of age. To see if you qualify for the WIC Program, call 818-361-7541.
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