Well, cooking with Timmy, to be exact. Vera mostly just toddles around the kitchen while we get our hands dirty. Someday soon we’ll all be cooking together in the kitchen and making a big, beautiful mess. For now Vera is happy tossing food around her play kitchen (which is in our kitchen). She’s begun to start “cooking” in her kitchen along with Tim and I- so adorable!
Timmy loves being “my little helper” in the kitchen. He always smiles as he drags a kitchen chair over to the island and climbs up to see what I’m making. He scoops and dumps ingredients into bowls, mixes and learns the names of new ingredients with such excitement. I even started giving him a plastic knife to cut up vegetables or butter toast. I love how much enjoyment he gets from cooking and baking right now and I’m doing my best to encourage his new interest.
It’s not difficult to get your kids involved in the kitchen! My first tip would be to spend time in the kitchen with your kids. Don’t just turn on a cartoon so you can get dinner going or cook while the kids nap. I’m guilty of doing both from time to time, but over the last few months I’ve made a real effort to involve the kids in the kitchen.
I’m a big believer in getting kids into the kitchen at a young age. Obviously babies can’t do much in the kitchen, but the kitchen is full of sensory experiences that can hold the attention of little ones. Let them play with food or bang on pots and pans with wooden spoons while you cook.
Once they’re toddlers, give them tools and utensils to play with and bowls to stir pretend ingredients. If you have a play kitchen and the room, move it into your kitchen. I fill my kids’ play kitchen with real food boxes, empty spice containers, my smallest pots and real utensils. Both of my kids play in their kitchen daily. Timmy makes me snacks each day. I love observing him pretend play.
Older toddlers can be a real help in the kitchen. Toddlers can help dump ingredients into bowls and mix ingredients. There are toddler safe knives- don’t be afraid to let your older toddlers use them. With a little supervision, they can help chop spinach or cut pepper strips into bite size pieces. Once a week, I make pizza with Timmy. He loves adding the sauce, grated cheese and toppings to our homemade pizza dough.
Cooking with your kids is also a great way to incorporate early math into your everyday lives. Timmy likes to count as he sorts and adds ingredients. I would imagine as he gets older, it will be a good way to introduce measurements and fractions.
I think what prevents most people from getting their young children involved in the kitchen is the mess that is sure to result. Embrace it. If they’re not making a mess in your kitchen, it’ll be in your living room. And everything is wipeable in the kitchen.
How do you get your young children involved in the kitchen? I’d love to hear from you!