Does getting children into cooking at an early age encourage better eating habits as they grow up?
We have probably all baked with our children from time to time-cakes, biscuits, sweet treats.
But why is it that our children’s first experiences with cooking are with baking sugary treats instead of healthy meals?
I know with my 5 year old the thought of cooking is so much nicer than the being involved. The safety anxieties, the hot oven, hob, never mind the kitchen hygiene (snot, spit not to mention the rest) aren’t exactly highest on our little ones agendas!
But getting children in to cooking, teaching them how to make a soup from vegetables will set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating and not always associate the only time they get involved in the kitchen with baking sugary treats.
Getting children involved in real food to share with their family also encourages family dining. Conversations at the dinner table to talk about their day makes dinner times a social and enjoyable experience away from the television.
- Get children involved in looking for recipes they might like from cook books aimed at children, eg; Cool Kids Cook by Jenny Chandler, planning the food that they want to create as well as helping at the supermarket to give them empowerment in the choices that they make regarding food.
- Choose a time when you have lots of time to cook and not when you are hungry and grumpy
- Encourage children to be in and around the kitchen while you’re cooking and give them little jobs to help for example grating cheese, mashing avocados.
- Let them learn and develop their own signature dish and allow them to practice it. This will help to develop their confidence in the kitchen.
- Allow your children to use proper kitchen tools so that they feel like a grown up just like you. Be careful with knives, taking in to consideration the age of the child, Experts suggest age 7 is when children can be shown how to use a knife safely and efficiently.
- Always be on hand to keep an eye on tricky tasks but allow children the room to be creative with flavours.
- Have fun!! Try not to stress about mess it is inevitable and can remove the fun from the activity.
Six or seven is the age that children can really start getting involved in cooking but before this we can start with a wooden spoon, children love mess and squidgy-ness!
My George loves squashing avocados, even smaller things like making a healthy chicken wrap and mashing potatoes gets him involved in the food that we eat.
Starting with giving children some small jobs in the kitchen can get really them involved in the cooking. Bringing excitement to food, giving numerous health benefits to their eating habits, as well as bringing social interaction with family back to dinner time.
Cooking with children can really start to change the only association that they have with helping in the kitchen. From baking something which is sweet and bad for their teeth to creating a healthy meal for all the family to enjoy!