When it comes to cooking meals for your family, you probably spend quite a bit of time worrying about making sure that your children are learning how to make healthy choices, that they’re eating enough, or if they’ll even try a bite or two of whatever you’ve put on their plate. The last thing on your mind is probably whether or not your toddler or preschooler is learning to cook.
But what if I told you that getting them into the kitchen and letting them cook with you for the first time is a great way to work on that first set of worries?
When you get your little ones helping in the kitchen, they’re not out making a mess throughout the rest of the house while you make dinner and even better, they’re a lot more likely to try new foods and meals since they had a hand in their preparation.
That doesn’t even begin to include the bonding time that you’ll have with your child as you bake your favorite cookies or try out a new dinner recipe together.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you’re there to supervise until they’re old enough and have had enough practice in the kitchen to make a few things on their own, but how exactly do you go about getting started?
Well, for lack of a better of explanation, just start! Pick a day and a recipe and get cooking!
With just an hour or two in the kitchen and these simple tips, you could be baking and making memories with your kiddos before you know it.
Stick to Using the Table
Toddlers and, at times, preschoolers are not usually tall enough to reach counter top height without standing on a chair or a step stool of some kind. Not only does this limit movement around the kitchen, for everyone, but you won’t be able to concentrate on what you’re doing if you’re constantly worrying about little ones slipping or falling off of chairs.
The table works perfectly because it is usually right at their height, even if they need to sit on a chair (much safer than standing!) and generally gives you more space to spread out and work than the counter will.
Let Your Child Pick the Recipe
Especially if is their first time or two helping you in the kitchen, letting your child decide what they’re going to make and then, to top it off, letting them gather the ingredients on their own, is a great way to get them really involved in the process while teaching them about new ingredients and items that they may not have seen before.
If possible, have them help you gather up everything you’ll need to complete the recipe before the actual cooking begins. Do you need bowls, spoons, a mixer? Gather it all up first thing! It shows them where everything can be found throughout the kitchen and will save you a lot of time as you won’t be walking back and forth to various cabinets and drawers to gather items while putting your recipe together.
Start with Picture Recipes
If your child is still in the toddler or preschooler age groups and haven’t yet learned to read, starting with picture recipes is the perfect way to get even your smallest helpers into the kitchen.
Try a quick Google or Pinterest search and you’ll find tons of picture recipe resources that you can print off and use at home.
Just like regular recipes, these image focused versions give your child a way to tell what ingredients are included without having to have someone read everything to them and, especially for that first session or so in the kitchen, they’ll feel so much more accomplished for doing it all by themselves.
Forget About the Mess
Finally, and most importantly, forget about the mess.
It goes without saying that that first cooking or baking experience will be messy, but it will also be memorable. Don’t spend your time worrying about the flour on their faces or the egg whites that didn’t quite make it into the bowl.
Focus instead on the memories you are making with your children, those gloriously messy memories. I promise you, when the process is finished and you see their faces light up at what they’ve accomplished, you’ll be glad you did.
Once the whole thing is done and you’ve all gotten to taste your amazing creation, let them help with the cleanup process as well.
A roll of your favorite Bounty paper towels make this a pretty easy task. Whether you’ve spilled milk on the floor or have a chocolate coating over your dining room table like we’ve had on occasion, Bounty makes cleaning those messes faster and easier with their more absorbent paper towels so that you can stay in the moment and enjoy making those messy memories with your little ones.
Even better, since you don’t need a lot to tackle those spills, the kids can help! From start to finish they’ll feel like they’re part of the process and who knows? It just might makes those dinnertime battles a thing of the past!