Now as you know I already got a lovely toddler “Blip”, he is 3 years old and am amazing little boy. Occasionally though he drives me nuts. He is quite a fuzzy eater, but so was I as a child. However, nowadays I eat almost anything, as long as it’s dead! I couldn’t eat live octopi like in Korea that would be against my believes.
As a kid, I remember that I rarely was allowed in the kitchen. My mum did the cooking and every week it was the same dull food. Only at Christmas time did we have something more interesting and I was allowed to help making cookies!
Me as a Toddler!!!
When I moved to the UK at 21 I barely cook cook, even pasta. Luckily, I discovered I Loved food and therefore started to cook. I don’t think I’ll ever become a professional chef or anything like that (I’m bloody slow) but a good home cook.
Therefore as a mum to my 3 year old one of the things I really enjoy is to have him help me in the kitchen and he so enjoys it. Almost from when he was old enough to sit on a chair did I give him vegetables and one of his baby cutleries and got him to help (well, most ended on the floor etc).
But what I want for him is to be allowed in the kitchen and learn how to do simple food. I believe it’s one of the things we have forgotten in society, the importance of cooking from scratch. I believe that by teaching our kids (even if it is to make pancakes) how to cook, we can help them fight against obesity and falling in the trap of expensive convenience food and takeaways. Yes, as a family of course we occasionally do have takeaways etc.
- Do it when you got time!
Don’t attempt to bake or cooked with your toddler when you are stressed or if you have to finish it in a rush! Neither you or your toddler will enjoy it!
Choose a time where you can relax and if it takes an hour instead of 20 minutes it’s fine!
- Choose something simple (especially to begin with)
I found that choosing something nice and simple to start up with is best. For me this is things like pancakes or my Banana cake. It’s recipes I can make in my sleep. Also, if he lost the interest in it I can quickly finish it of.. Then with time you can expand and do more complex cooking with them. I still don’t like to try and make dishes or cakes i haven’t tried before or which I really need up concentrate on.
The times where I have tried to do something complicated and new with Toddler “Blip” I seems to either end up loosing my patience/getting stressed or/and end up with a horrible end result.
This doesn’t mean he can’t still help, if something like carrots, cucumber needs to be cut he can still help.
- Be organised
Have all your ingredients ready, pots and pans before you start.
This helps you concentrate on the cooking process and on your child. It also means that you don’t have to locate something and turn your back to your child whilst he/she manage to put 1kg extra flour or the whole salt mixture into the cake. Believe me, I have been there, the dish turned out awful, but at least he didn’t hurt himself!
- Be prepared for it to be messy
Don’t get annoyed or stressed when the flour ends on the floor or there is dough everywhere. It’s a part of the learning process a bit like when they start learning to eat by themselves.
In the end of the day, mess can be cleaned, don’t let them cook in their best clothes..
- Be safe!
Being in the kitchen can be very dangerous even as an adult. But with a young toddler by your side, it’s even worse. Make sure that sharp knifes are out of the way.
Make sure that if you have to use appliances such as hand mixers or even the cooker you feel comfortable to do it with your toddler. If not explain to them that mummy or daddy has to do this, as it’s dangerous.
Don’t leave a toddler unattended, even if you are just going to…. one moment alone with a plugged in hand mixer, a warm stove or sharp knife can mean disaster..
If you have to leave, turn everything off and remove toddler.
- Inform and show them what to do!
One thing I learned quickly whilst cooking with my son was to tell them what to do instead of what not to do!!
For instance, to crack an egg.. initially what I said to toddler “Blip” was… “Don’t squeeze the egg!” And every time that’s what he would do. I changed tactics and instead I started saying what he should do. “So remember we need to carefully crack the egg on the bowl, and separate the shells”, within two tries he got it and understood what to do.
Also talk to them about what you are doing, why you are doing and what you are cooking. Things like, oh we need 1 tbsp sugar for it to taste nice, or this is a carrot, do you like them. Involve them, make them feel a part of it.
- Have fun with them
It’s important that the cooking is fun, they need to feel they are helping you. If they or you mess up or something doesn’t go to plan don’t get upset. Let them decorate the cake, they are doing the best.
- Let them be proud of what they have produced!
Let them try the food, let them give it to mum/dad etc.
The first thing I cooked with toddler “Blip” was pancakes! So nice and easy. Then we did banana cake and cupcakes.
I’ll make another post, under the category cooking with a toddler, for pancakes and any other things I cook with my lovely toddler “Blip”