Cooking with our kids is about so much more than cooking!
My daughter has been in the kitchen with me since she was a baby and I wouldn’t have it any other way! As a little one sitting in her highchair, I would give her whole fruits and vegetables to explore. Who knew a lemon could be the focus of such intense interest and curiosity?! Her first food was an avocado. I mashed half of it and fed her and gave her the other half to play with. It ended up all over her face, in her hair and all over her highchair…she loved it every minute of it! I think cultivating a love and appreciation for whole food needs to start as early as possible…so bring your babies into the kitchen!
As a toddler, I’d give her “special jobs” like washing vegetables in the sink. She’d say they were swimming in a magic silver pool, or sometimes she would dry the lettuce for our salad in her merry go round (AKA the salad spinner)! We’d make up silly cooking songs or tell stories about the fruit or vegetable we were preparing. Little ones have such an amazing imagination and a wonderful way of turning every task into play!
Most parents can attest to the fact that little kids love to be helpers and do things themselves. There was a stage where my daughter’s favorite sentence was “Me Do It,” so getting kids involved in the kitchen is a great way to encourage their desire to help and be a big kid.
Older kids can be really helpful when it comes to cooking. They can help with the meal planning, grocery shopping, preparing and serving of the food your family eats. They say that kids that help prepare their food are more willing to eat it!
As kids get older, their schedules tend to get busier. However, if you make an effort to cook and eat together, even if it’s just one day a week, it will be well worth it! If sharing dinner together doesn’t work with your schedules, then try sharing a different meal together such as breakfast! Before you know it, your kids will be grown up and you’ll probably be wishing you could sit around the table with them and hear about their day. Need some fun conversations starters and recipes? I think the new book called The Family Dinner Book by Laurie David is a great resource for families.
There are so many learning opportunities in the kitchen: math, physics, geography, reading and science to name a few. Cooking with your kids, when you have time and are not rushed, is a fantastic way to spend time together, pass on family recipes or create some new ones together! Teaching our kids about healthy foods is one of our biggest and most important tasks as parents because without good health, life is a lot more challenging.
Cooking for your kids will last a mealtime – cooking with your kids and sharing meals with them will give them skills and memories that will last a lifetime!
Happy Healthy Eating,
Kia Robertson is a mom and the creator of the Today I Ate A Rainbow kit, a tool that helps parents establish healthy habits by setting the goal of eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day. Kia is passionate about creating tools that help parents raise healthy kids!