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Cooking with children: Top tips for making the kitchen fun

Blog - 08 September 2023

Cooking with children: Top tips for making the kitchen fun

Embarking on culinary adventures with your child is a great way to create lasting memories and grow a stronger bond. While it’s a journey that is undeniably rewarding, it can be quite challenging when cooking with children. Fear not, for here are some top tips to transform cooking with little ones into an enjoyable and sanity-preserving experience for all!

Before we delve into the tips, it’s important to discuss the benefits of involving children in cooking:

  • Creates a lasting connection: Engaging in culinary activities with your child offers a unique bonding experience. By working together to achieve something that you’ll both enjoy, you can grow the connection and bond between you and your child, as well as create cherished memories that will never forget.
  • Promotes a sense of responsibility: Allowing your child to assist or take charge of certain aspects of cooking will help to encourage their independence, as well as build their confidence in the kitchen. Entrusting them with tasks gives them a sense of control and accountability, resulting in a positive experience (i.e. growing their love for food, getting to do a hands-on activity, enhancing social skills).
  • May help fussy eaters: Children are more likely to try new foods if they take part in making them. By involving your child in food preparation, you might inspire them to explore and taste new flavours, and potentially address the issues of picky eating habits. You can read more about why kids are fussy eaters and how to help.

Alongside the benefits, there can be challenges when cooking and baking with children. Here are some tips you may want to consider the next time you plan to have your little one join you in the kitchen!

1. Pick a good time

Timing is everything when it comes to doing any activity with children. Choose a time in a day when they feel the most energetic and eager to engage in a new activity. Cooking with a cranky, hungry, or tired child is destined for a disaster, so ensure they are well-rested, fed, and happy to help!

2. Embrace the mess

It’s inevitable. If you can’t avoid it, then embrace it! From sprinkles all over the counter to eggshells in batter, and even some flour in hair (or hair in the flour), tell yourself that messes happen and it’s okay. You wouldn’t want to focus so much on being squeaky clean during cooking, but more on the process and the preparation. But that’s not to let them get away with the mess they created – involve them in the clean-up process after, so they learn to understand cleaning up is part of the experience.
Making the cooking and cleaning process fun will help kids develop a positive association with cooking, which is often seen as a difficult chore by many.

3. Encourage tasting

Children of all ages are naturally curious. Getting children to explore different tastes and textures of food engages them in the process and allows them to enjoy cooking even more. Children are more likely to be open to trying new foods (or flavours) when they are involved in the process of creating them. And of course, tasting the final creation together will make the experience much more enjoyable and memorable for them.

4. Empower them to lead

While you may be tempted to take control of the full recipe, it’s also helpful for your child to take charge wherever possible. If you’re cooking with a small child, easier tasks like beating an egg or adding milk to the batter will make them feel involved. Remember, no task is too small or meaningless. This is where you need your patience. Instead of saying, “I’ll just do it myself because you’ll spill it,” or “Watch mummy do it this time,” let your child have a go and only provide guidance. It’ll help develop a greater sense of independence and responsibility for them.

5. Have fun

Creating these memories with your child will be cherished forever – sure, it may look like your kitchen was bombed after, or you both might have lost your patience at times, or even the recipe may not have turned out exactly right – but, nothing compares to the joy your child will have had spending time with you. It’s not worth it if they don’t enjoy it. So, have fun and make the most of your time together!

In collaboration with leading nutritionist Claire Bucek, Camp Australia has recently completed a pilot program, launching our upgraded menu options in Your OSHC and Rocketeers, with 50 new recipes created along with a variety of fresh ingredients added to our grocery list!

Each service will have access to tailored ingredients that cater to the dietary requirements of the children, as well as what they would love to make and eat. Ask your Coordinator about the weekly menu options and book into Your OSHC for more exciting culinary experiences to come!

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