Toddlers are like sponges. They soak up the world through all of their senses and usually leave a trail of chaos in their wake. Even still, they are learning and thriving and becoming little humans through this exploratory, often messy, process.
While toddlers and cooking may sound like a recipe for disaster, there are so many benefits to involving them. Check out some of the best reasons to cook with your little ones below.
Top 5 Reasons to Bring Your Toddlers Into The Kitchen
Cooking with Toddlers is a Sensory Experience
Sensory play is vital to a child’s development. Sensory play is when their touch, smell, taste, movement, sight, and hearing is stimulated. This is how they learn about the world and begin to process the natural world. Flour makes a huge mess but it is worth the extra sweeping!
Cooking with Toddlers Builds Confidence
When we cook with our little ones, we introduce them to new skills like pouring, measuring, etc. When a young child does something new and sees it is helpful for their parents, they develop a sense of confidence and pride in themselves and their abilities. Cooking with them will give them the chance to see what they can do!
Cooking with Toddlers Develops Basic Skills
Measuring, following a recipe and combining ingredients all introduce your children to math. Of course, we don’t need to talk about spacial volume and units of measurement but the foundation for elementary math is laid when they are in the kitchen with you. Count the eggs, verbally label the tbsp as you use it etc. These simple acts are building blocks for their future!
Cooking with Toddlers Develops Language Skills
We can talk to children all day long and while we are cooking is no different. Tell them what you are doing, sportscasting as it is sometimes called, and run your finger under the words as you read the recipe instructions. They will be learning new vocabulary words and setting the foundation for early literacy skills.
Cooking with Toddlers Develops Good Eaters
One of the best ways to raise adventurous eaters is to expose them to new flavors. The other vital piece is to include them in the creation of their food. Let them shop with you and then help you prepare foods. When they have a hand in making the food, they are more likely to try new things. It won’t reverse picky eating tendencies immediately but in time it will help!
Best of all and a bonus benefit is time together. There is nothing more important to their development than time with you! It may get messy and it may result in germy, extra salty foods but you are providing your child with one-on-one time with you. This experience allows you to bond, explore and PLAY together.
How to Get Started Cooking With Toddlers
I know you are thinking, great cooking with toddlers is beneficial for them but what about my kitchen? What about when I need to actually eat the food we are making?
Rest assured there is a process in how much your children participate. They can do more and more over time when they develop fine motor and other skills. They also can be trusted to take on more as they show a respect for safety.
Start with things you think they can do and add a little something each time. Pick foods that are simple and fit their current attention span. It should be fun. This often requires parents take this on when they have a little extra patience.
Remember, If you are monitoring for safety, the worst thing that can happen is an egg breaks or even a bowl. Is that really that bad? When the Kitchenaid electric mixer gets turned on high and batter splatters everywhere, take a deep breath smile and talk about what happened and what you’ll do next time. Then, clean it together. Cleaning up afterward is, after all, part of cooking.