You love and enjoy cooking but now you have a baby and you feel that you cannot pursue what you love you doing. Who said this has to be the case and that babies cannot spend time with you in the kitchen? It is important for your baby to be in the kitchen with you so that they can learn healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits. At first, it may seem odd and you may get all these disapproving looks from people who see your baby in the kitchen. After a while, you will be looking forward to your baby asking you if they can help you out in the kitchen.
It is true that your baby might delay your cooking and this can be a reason not to involve them. In addition, babies tend to make a whole mess of everything even the simple things. They are definitely not like teenagers. The good news is that once you introduce your 2 year old to the kitchen, they will find it easier to help you out in their teenage years. In fact, they might even be preparing family dinners once they get there.
The kitchen is a place to teach your child the essence of cooking as a life skill such that they can take control of their health. Once they embrace this lifestyle, they will be quite ahead of their peers. Besides, cooking is a great way to have fun even when they don’t realize they are adding knowledge to their nutrition.
The benefits of having your baby in the kitchen
Cooking is an important life skill that your children need to learn. It is a great opportunity to teach them about nutrition and what is healthy or not. It is also nice to tell them why certain foods are not healthy and why the healthy ones are the best for consumption. In addition to learning about cooking, your baby will also learn safety habits on how to handle objects like knives, fire and the rest.
If you don’t have a recipe book, then it would be great if you get one. Your baby can read through recipes and flick through recipe books. This encourages them to read and follow instructions. In the course of reading, he or she will learn how to improvise and even how to multi-task.
The best place for your child to start learning math is the kitchen. Recipes use math concepts like measurements, factions and proportions which will help your child improve her numerical skills by practical application.
When you are a working parent, it is sometimes difficult to find time to bond with your child since you are either home late or leaving early in the morning. Cooking together is a great time to bond. It creates precious memories that will last a lifetime. In addition, it helps to build their confidence. At such times, you have an opportunity to praise your child for completing a task which greatly boosts their self-esteem.
Cooking time is time to be introduced to new foods which they will easily try because they are preparing the meals themselves.
- Motor skills
The finest motor skills are honed in the kitchen. All five senses of hearing, seeing, smelling, touching and tasting are involved while cooking.
The kitchen is a space for your baby to express her creativity. For example, they can use a cookie cutter to come up with all manner of sandwich shapes. They can also come up with new designs and recipes for meals.
Children have a different developing timeline. Every child is different and so are their abilities. Use your judgment to see which tasks your baby is able to handle.
Cooking for 2 year-olds and 3-year olds
Your 2 year old can indeed help you out in the kitchen. At this age, it is all about getting them familiar with the kitchen environment. You have to ensure that the area is completely safe before involving them.
At two or three years, your child can do activities like:
- Washing fruits and vegetables. Get them a step ladder and set them to task with washing with a strainer beside them. Washing fruits and vegetables is a great way to encourage them to be curious about different foods.
- After you measure out ingredients, have your child add them to a bowl and stir them
- Mashing foods like cooked potatoes, sweet potatoes or bananas with a potato masher. These foods should not be too hot.
- Sprinkling flour onto a surface to make bread
- Kneading dough
- Spinning salad
- Squeezing citrus fruits
- Assembling pizza toppings
Your baby does not have to do all these things by herself. You can help them out with any or all of the activities.
Activities for 3-5 year olds
At three, your baby’s motor skills and focus have improved. At this stage, they can try out more complex activities like:
- Measuring ingredients with spoons and cups
- Cutting the soft foods like butter, bananas, mushrooms and cheese
- Peeling eggshells from hardboiled eggs
- Assembling foods like a parfait
- Cracking and beating eggs
- Making simple sandwiches
- Greasing pans
- Rolling, shaping and cutting dough using plastic cutters and small rolling pins
- Spreading icing or buttering bread and other spreading activities
- Picking leaves from herb stems
- Hulling strawberries
Some of the best healthy foods to make with your five year old include:
- Orange juice
- Granola, homemade
- Dips like guacamole
- Kale chips
- Baked oatmeal
- Bliss balls
These recipes are quite baby-friendly in terms of preparation and even health-wise.
It’s time to do a kitchen overhaul and incorporate your baby into your kitchen life. It will not only benefit them but also you. It is actually a great way to relieve stress and emotional tension. And remember to allow them to make mistakes because they are still babies. Don’t shout at them when they make a mess. Be receptive and accept the effort they put. They will definitely get better with time.