“Cooking” with Your Infant
I love getting into the kitchen with my toddler. We began our adventures in this room when she was only an infant. I would place her in her baby carrier, turn on the music, and get busy. As she would gently rest her head upon my chest, I would explain each step of what I was doing.
“Mama is slicing the tomatoes! Look how red they are!”
“Mama is beginning to sauté the garlic!”
“Mama is stirring the ingredients!”
Even in infancy, it is great to talk aloud as often as possible. You can dictate your inner monologue or explain exactly what you are doing, as you are doing it. It is something so simple, but it really builds your child’s vocabulary. Just be careful what you say when your child reaches toddlerhood! Those little tykes repeat everything!
“Cooking” with Your Baby
When my daughter reached babydom, I would still bring her into the kitchen with me. We would still rock out to some great tunes and by now she was jamming in her high chair.
I would give her a little bowl and whisk to play with. Really, you could stop there because a bowl and whisk lend themselves to hours of baby entertainment. However, at this age, I gave my daughter the job of “taste tester” once she was on solid foods. I wanted her to experience cooking and begin learning about the flavors, colors, and textures of food.
I highly recommend allowing your baby to taste test your homemade baby purèes before freezing them into ice cube trays. If you get “that face”, throw the batch away.
You know the face? The one where it looks like they are sucking on a lemon while simultaneously making a stinky?
Cooking with Your Toddler
This is the age where the cooking fun begins…at least for me. I started by providing my daughter with cooking-related toys. Role playing in the pretend kitchen before you get into your “real” kitchen makes a HUGE difference. You can demonstrate how tools are used and conduct your safety talks.
I love the cutting fruit set because it helps your toddler develop their fine motor skills. My daughter loves to get out her fruit and practicing “cutting” while I am slicing and dicing in the kitchen.
If there is one great kitchen invention, it is the Kitchen Aid Mixer. I am completely obsessed with mine. Since I am always using my mixer, it made sense to get my daughter one of her very own.
You may be looking at that last picture and thinking, “What does a pretend coffee maker have to do with cooking?” Allow me to explain.
My daughter and I share a lack of fondness for the mornings. Rather than us both being grumpy while her father sings jaunty tunes, I have included her in the making of coffee. She uses her pretend coffee maker, while I make the real stuff…fully loaded. I also use my milk frother to make her “coffee” and top it off with a dash of cinnamon.
Scroll down and click the next page for recipes to cook with your toddlers and older kids!