It is important that children are given the opportunity to learn about food and learn to cook from a young age. This is because children’s food preferences and eating habits are formed early on. By teaching your child to cook, you can help them to develop healthy eating habits, positive attitudes to food and a love of food and cooking which will last them a lifetime. With many children being homeschooled at the moment, you could use some of your time together to teach your child to cook.
What are the benefits of teaching your child to cook?
To help your child be confident with food, they need to use their senses to look at, touch, smell and taste food. This can encourage them to try new foods and help them to become a more confident eater. Your child is far more likely to eat something if they have prepared it themselves. Cooking is also fun! It is a great activity for children to enjoy and to use their creativity.
What age can my child start to cook?
You can teach children basic cooking skills from a very young age. From the age of around 18 months, your child will start to show an interest in helping you in the kitchen. Here’s some ideas for basic skills your child can start with:
- Mashing food with a fork or potato masher
- Washing fruit or vegetables
- Mixing ingredients in a bowl
- Tearing foods such as lettuce or herbs When you are doing these activities with your child, discuss what you are doing. What does the food look like? What does it smell like? What does it feel like? What does it taste like?
Once your child has mastered these skills, they can move on to try something requiring more skill. They can now try:
- Cutting food with a knife – start off by using a plastic knife. Supervision is important to make sure that they don’t hurt themselves or others
- Cutting food with scissors such as herbs
- Weighing ingredients on a scale – this is great for numeracy skills
- Peeling fruit such as satsumas
- Making a salad
When your child is more confident with cooking and is older, they will really be able to start to help in the kitchen. They can now try to:
- Follow a recipe – and make it for all the family
- Use the hob, oven or microwave – with supervision
- Use a can opener or potato peeler
- Make a cake
- Use an electric whisk
- Use a grater
- Always wash hands, tie back long hair and wear an apron, if you have one
Recipes to try
Your child will now have confidence in the kitchen and be able to prepare simple recipes. This will help them to be confident with food, be willing to try new foods and have a positive attitude to food and cooking that will stay with them for life.
There are some great resources on the British Nutrition Foundation Food A Fact of Life website with ideas of recipes and activities to try with children of all ages. The BBC Food website also has easy recipes for children learning to cook. For further recipe ideas, visit Change4Life.
Author: Zoe Griffiths, RNutr
Photo source: Canva Pro