Teaching your children to cook is an important life skill for not only health and wellbeing but also to help them survive in the big bad world on their own two feet (so they don’t live on 2minute noodles and takeways!). While that may seem like a long way off if your child is a toddler, its important that these skills are taught early because:
- It can be great quality time together
- Cooking creates an appreciate and love of food and even an understanding of nutrition and more specifically what fuels their bodies (so they can play more!)
- Kids are more likely to eat and enjoy foods they have made or help make. Same goes for growing vegetables, children are more likely to try it if they grew it themselves!
- Cooking involves a range of other important skills scubas as mathematics, reading, decision making, research, co-ordination, teamwork, time management and creativity.
- Plus image how good it will be when they are older and they can take over some of the cooking!
What to do at what age:
Sit the baby where they can see you cooking. Talk to them about the food and show them what you are doing. While they may not understand, they are forming pictures of what is normal for Mummy or Daddy to do.
Involve them as much as possible in what you are doing. Give them plastic bowls, wooden spoons, plastic sets of cutters and play dough to play with. As they get older and their motor skills get better, let them stand on a stool and pour ingredients you have measured into a bowl. They can also help clear the table by removing place mats and napkins.
Pre-schoolers can spread, peanut butter or avocado or hummus with a butter (blunt) knife. They can tear up lettuce for a salad, stir the contents of a bowl, wash fruit and vegetables and help mash vegetables. They can also help set the table.
School-aged kids can use hand egg beaters, whisks and sifters. They can measure ingredients and mix them in the right order. Since their reading skills are improving, they can start to read recipes – this is a good time to buy a kids’ cookbook or download some kids recipes. Close supervision of all food preparation will still be necessary.
And beware, this could be messy, but I promise it will be well worth it!
If you would like more help on nutrition for children or practical ideas to get kids in the kitchen contact NZ Registered Nutritionist Larissa Beeby for an appointment either online, in person or on the phone.
Director / NZ Registered Nutritionist