Tuesday, 12 July 2011

10 top tips for....Cooking with Toddlers

When it comes to cooking with your toddler (or two) the prospect can be daunting.
You know theres going to be alot of mess over the floor, the kitchen, the toddler and yourself, its probably going to take a long time, they will eat raw cake mix and it will taste a bit funny.
But its so much fun that it really is all worth it, and here's my top tips for maximizing fun and minimizing the mess!

1) Pick a simple recipe with only a few ingredient and if you've got particularly young children try to find one with a small cooking time.

2) If possible bring a low table (I always use my coffee table from the lounge) into the kitchen so that the kids    can work at their height. This is safer as it saves wobbling off stools near counter tops and keeps little fingers away from, hob rings etc.

3) Invest a few pounds in a plastic table cloth, or buy some plasticated cloth from a fabric shop, we got ours (although it looks like I didnt bother with it for the picture, oops!) from the sale section of CH Fabrics for £5) this will protect your table and surrounding area from mess as it'll only take a wipe to get it all clean at the end, and also lets the kids know that this is a time its okay to get messy.

4) Let kids help to measure out ingredients. A toddler will be fascinated by your weighing scales, jugs spoons etc and you can talk about numbers, quantities etc in a way that's relevant to them, eg. How many eggs do we need? 'one, two'

5) Get stuck in, let them stir, rub, and mash things together, dont worry about a bit of mess on your tots it will all come off with a lick or a bath!

6) Join in! If your kids see you having fun and enjoying cooking they will too

7) When choosing what to cook decide whether it will be healthy, or a treat and then talk about this when your cooking. E.g. 'isnt this cake mix yummy, so sweet this will make a nice treat for pudding'

8) Let children cut ingredients up with plastic scissors. So many recipes need things cutting up but if your clever and pick the right recipes then most cutting can be limited to soft items suitable for the scissors! good example of food to cut with scissors are, ham, cheese slices, cooked spaghetti, bananas, bread etc. Try to avoid letting children handle raw meat/fish

9) Look at the food before it is cooked and talk about how it looks, ask what they think it might turn out light after cooking. Look again when the food is cooked, were you right? Will it stay that way when it is cool.

10) Eat and enjoy, kids love sharing what they've made and receiving praise for it. They are also much more willing to try new things if they've had a hand in making them.

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