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Early Years in the Kitchen: 5 tips on nurturing your budding chef

Encouraging your child to help in the kitchen at a young age is beneficial for their development. Cooking is a life skill that they will use for the rest of their life, so it’s important to get them started on the right track.

There are many benefits when it comes to getting early years involved in the kitchen as it encourages:

  • Fine motor skills

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Self-dependency

  • Confidence

And reduces

  • Eating disorders

  • Picky Eaters

Your little chef will often be happy to be involved in the kitchen but they can have a short attention span and need a lot of help.

Being hesitant about children in the kitchen is normal and it’s near enough impossible to avoid any mishaps but with these tips below and a little pinch of patience, introducing your little one into the kitchen should be a whole lot smoother.

Here are our 5 tips on encouraging your child in the kitchen

1. Risks and dangers

Cooking is a completely new experience for children so they are unaware of any dangers. Explain any potential risks that could happen in the kitchen. Even if you’re not planning on having your child near any danger, it’s useful to teach them these skills as they can help prevent accidents.

A great way to teach your child about risks in the kitchen is to give them a guided tour.

2. Food safety Allergies are extremely common and many children and adults can have severe reactions. Therefore children need to understand the importance of avoiding cross-contamination. Adults understand that if we use a knife to cut raw chicken, that same knife then can’t be used again, as this can make us sick.

Providing different coloured chopping boards and utensils (Following the universal food safety colouring system) can help encourage food safety in a fun and colourful way.

3. Make it fun

Children are interested and ready to get stuck at the start but they can get distracted easily. A recipe that takes 10 minutes can quickly become 30 minutes and if the recipe is too hard they may struggle and become discouraged. Finding a recipe that is age-appropriate and non-time-consuming is an essential factor in keeping your child engaged.

Fun shaped fruit and vegetable cutters and animal food sticks can be a great addition for making any plate fun and interesting. Try creating animals or characters or try making faces on your pizza. Visually pleasing plates help engage and encourage children and reduce picky eating.

4. Have a Plan Having a plan helps avoid stressful situations. Young children can only complete certain activities such as washing vegetables, stirring and mashing. Knowing your child’s capability and limits is important.

Read over your chosen recipe before starting and understand what needs to happen at each step. Your focus will be on your child and helping them, so it’s useful to have your ingredients and equipment organised and planned beforehand.

5. Factor in learning

While your child is practising their cooking skills encourage them to learn. There are many different aspects of learning that can be taught in the kitchen

One great way to factor learning into your cooking session is to start talking! Speaking out loud is proven to aid your child’s language development and boost their confidence and self-independence. While handling fruits and vegetables, meat or dairy products try explaining the journey it may have taken to get to our plates.

Patience is key while your child learns and make mistakes as they discover the world of cooking

Please share your yummy creations with us in the comments below!

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