Cooking with young children proves beneficial in many ways. Children learn about measurements and learn to follow a specific set of directions. Cooking provides bonding time for parents and kids. It can even result in a lesson on cause and effect when the recipe doesn’t turn out quite right. Young children might eat more types of food when they help cook them. Children as young as eighteen months can assist with adding ingredients and stirring the mixture, making it an ideal activity for the entire family.
Establish a set of cooking rules for the children. Include guidelines for how and when the children may use the various cooking utensils and appliances. This is the first step in ensuring a safe cooking experience for young kids.
Teach the kids about kitchen safety. Talk about the dangers of using knives, stoves, ovens and kitchen appliances such as blenders and mixers. Explain the potential injuries caused by these kitchen items without scaring your child. Review the kitchen safety guidelines before each cooking session.
Add a color coding system to the measuring cups and spoons to ease the task of measuring the ingredients. Use paint to make a dot or stripe of color on the measuring utensils, using a different color on each measurement. This helps the children distinguish between the measurements.
Choose recipes that appeal to the child and require a limited amount of ingredients. Use a kids’ cookbook and let the kids help select the recipes they wish to cook.
Rewrite the recipe in a child-friendly format. Use pictures next to the ingredients if the child can’t read. Add dots of colors next to the measurements to coordinate with the color-coded measuring utensils. This allows the kids to find the corresponding utensil for each ingredient.
Enlist the help of the child in gathering the required ingredients and utensils for the cooking project.
Let the child take the lead on measuring and adding the ingredients. Follow along on the recipe to make sure no steps or ingredients are missed.
Ask the child to assist with the clean up after the cooking project is done. This instills a sense of responsibility and teaches them from the beginning that clean up is part of the process.
- Never let young children handle steps in the recipe that involve the stove or oven.