Habitot Children's Museum                                                                                                                    December 2015
"RAISE TODDLERS WHO LOVE TO COOK"
December 2015 Parenting Topic of the Month
I recently had a mom tell me that she got "the best advice" when her child was young, and that was to cook with her child.

I couldn't agree more. But I do know that many parents fear the mess and how much time it takes.

So with those concerns in mind, let me share with you 8 reasons why cooking with your child is a powerful investment and not nearly as cumbersome as it may seem:
 
  1. Children are curious. When they cook, they wonder what the food tastes like, so there's a high likelihood that they will try it. Have you ever struggled to get your child to try new foods? Cook with her. It works really well. She tries the food because she wants to; there's no power struggle.
     
  2. When children cook, they feel proud of their accomplishment. They've created something (or taken part in creating something) that their family can actively enjoy. Hey, I made that pesto, and now everyone is eating it and liking it! This is so empowering for a child.
     
  3. Cooking together is quality time with your child. It's fun! There's great photo ops. When you reframe cooking together as fun-time, the (potential) mess and (potential) time it takes isn't as significant. Just be sure to avoid cooking with your child when you are really in a time crunch to get food on the table, because stress and fun don't mix well.
     
  4. And while you're having fun, you can make it educational. Cooking and baking can involve reading, geometry, math, and even history. You don't need to create a fancy lesson, either, since many of these lessons are already built into recipes. You just need to involve your child in them.
     
  5. Let's get practical: Fast forward to when your child is a teenager (or just a year or two if you already have a teenager), and imagine your child cooking you dinner. How awesome is that?! This really happens in families that cook together.
     
  6. Now fast forward a little more, to when your child is 18 and leaves the house. Imagine your peace of mind knowing that he has basic cooking skills. He won't need to eat ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He won't spend his college tuition ordering pizza every night. He can cook and eat at home, because you taught him how.
     
  7. So, what about the mess? What about the time? If this worries you, then avoid the huge cooking or baking projects. Simple cooking counts too: pushing the button on the food processor, pouring in the ingredients after you measure them out, picking the leaves off of the basil. These are all great ways to involve your child in cooking, and more practical for cooking with your child on a regular basis.
So when can you start cooking with your child? Today. Babies can watch you cook. Toddlers and preschoolers can help with simple tasks. Big kids especially like the challenge of using kitchen equipment, whether it's assembling the food processor, juicing lemons, or learning how to safely use a knife.

Little steps towards cooking with your child will add up to huge rewards in the long term.

I encourage you to give it a try!
 

 
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