Sticky handprints, spilled flour, and little voices asking, ‘can I lick the spoon?’ – cooking with kids can certainly be a handful! But encouraging your child to get started in the kitchen at a young age can help to build their confidence, teach them about nutrition – and it can also be a ton of fun for both kids and parents. We’re taking a look at some of the reasons why getting your kids involved in cooking, baking, and having fun in the kitchen is good for them, and we’ve even got some expert tips from parenting coach Isobel Mary Champion about the best ways to get your little ones involved.
There’s plenty of scientific research to back up the fact that getting kids involved in the kitchen and taking part in family meals can be hugely beneficial. Studies cited in research from Cornell University have shown that children who take part in family meals eat more healthy foods, achieve better academically, are less likely to be overweight, and have more positive family interactions. Enjoying a family meal together is a great way to bond, and it’s even better if you’ve cooked that meal together!
Surprisingly, despite all the clear benefits, there are plenty of parents who aren’t getting their kids involved in the kitchen. The Kitchen Confidence Survey found that although 90% of parents believe that it’s important for their kids to cook, less than half of US parents cook with their kids monthly.
Cooking together in the kitchen eventually will teach your kids one of the best basic life skills there is – how to cook for themselves and be self-reliant. Cooking together will help to teach them the basics of food preparation and making their own meals and help to teach them recipes that they can cook once they’re ready to fly the nest. But it’s worth getting started even when children are still very little, so it’s a skill they are used to using by the time they’re becoming a bit more independent.
Even small children can start getting involved in the kitchen. Start simple with some easy bakes like sugar cookies and let your little one help out with small tasks. Helping with jobs like stirring, weighing ingredients, and rolling out pastry will help to develop fine motor and hand-eye co-ordination skills for little fingers. When your child is ready, get them involved with reading and choosing recipes and let them figure out the steps – you’re giving their reading comprehension a boost, as well as helping them with mathematics skills as they work out portions and measure ingredients.
Getting your kids involved with cooking and baking is a great idea – but if you’re not sure of the best way to tempt your little ones into the kitchen, we’re here to help. We asked parenting coach Isobel Mary Champion for her recommendations on how to get kids involved in the kitchen. Here are her top tips for kids in the kitchen:
- Baking with your child is a great way to introduce them to the joys of cooking from an early age. Fairy cakes are the best place to start – small children will enjoy placing the paper cases in the tray and spooning out the mixture. Just remember, it is the activity that counts, not the finished product!
- Let your child explore and examine food in all its weird and wonderful forms. When you buy your groceries, don’t be too quick to put them away. Let your child touch, smell, hold (and potentially taste!) different kinds of fruit and vegetables, different shapes of pasta, and different sized tins and packets. Living herbs are also a fascinating addition to any kitchen.
- Let your child help you cook! Depending on the age of your child you can find appropriate ways to invite them to get involved. Children will happily assist with finding recipes, fetching ingredients, stirring, sprinkling, serving, and even washing up in a sink full of warm foamy water!
- Give your child a “toy kitchen” range to encourage imaginary play, complete with toy pots, pans, plates, and food items. This can be really nice to have in your kitchen (if you have space!) so that your child can “cook” alongside you – this will encourage them to start their culinary journey early!
No matter how you and your child get creative in the kitchen, from cupcakes to chicken soup, you can make sure your kitchen is perfectly prepared for plenty of family time with a stunning kitchen designed by Wren. Book your appointment today to find out how we can help you create the ideal child-friendly kitchen!