Cooking with kids
Cooking can be a pleasure for children of all ages. Start them young and with any luck they'll develop a lifelong love of the kitchen as well as skills they can use throughout adulthood.
Children will vary in their ability to undertake different cooking activities. Use your own judgment to choose tasks you think are suitable for your child. Safety is the biggest concern, beyond that a little trial and error is all part of the fun.
Below we've put together a list of suggested activities for under 3s, 3 - 5 year olds, 5 - 7 years olds, 8 - 11 year olds and children 12 and above.
Your little one may not be able to dress himself or go to the toilet on her own but from around 18 months, your child will probably want to start 'helping you out' in the kitchen. Take advantage of their interest to give yourself a break. If they're entertained in the kitchen you can get on with the business of cooking and you'll both be happy.
Ensure all hazards are away from grabbing hands - pot handles, hot food and liquids, sharp or heavy utensils and cleaning products. Think about what they can reach or trip over and make sure there is always a clear path if you're carrying anything hot, sharp or heavy. You can set them up on the kitchen table so you know they're at a safe distance.
Once you've cleared the way, this is your opportunity to teach your child about food and familiarise them with the kitchen environment.
Here are some of the activities very young children will enjoy:
- Washing vegetables - this is a great way of teaching them the names of vegetables and sparking an interest which will hopefully encourage them to try different foods
- Stirring ingredients - they should be at room temperature
- Mashing with a fork or potato masher - again watch out for temperature
- Sprinkling - flour, cake decorations and icing sugar, put a tray underneath to avoid too much mess
- Spooning ingredients into scales - you'll need to help!
Another way to keep young children occupied is to give them plastic containers and utensils to wash in the sink - this can provide lengthy entertainment while you cook.