Cooking with toddlers

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Cooking can be a fun activity for you and your toddler. Chef Anna Gare shares her tops tips for you to help your budding little chef in the kitchen.

Taste, texture, colours, smells – when it comes to food, there is plenty to delight their senses, as well as tickle their sense of fun! Starting them off at a young age means you’ll have a little companion in the kitchen for life. “Cooking is a great activity to do with children because it is fun; it covers all the senses and helps them to foster their creativity,” says TV cook and author Anna Gare. Learning to cook will also teach them patience, because they can see how much time and effort goes into making their food. Here are a few of Anna’s handy tips to get started. 


Keep it simple

Pizza dough is easy and little kneaders will love helping. Let them make a face on top with chopped or diced vegies, such as tomato and capsicum. Rolling meatballs or ‘bliss balls’ is another task they love. Make healthy versions of cookies or gingerbread biscuits and allow them to cut them out the shapes and decorate them. They can also put simple sandwiches or fruit salads together for lunch. 


Teach them about safety 

Supervise them at all times and keep sharp utensils and hot stoves well out of reach. Also be patient, work alongside them and, rather than saying ‘you can’t touch that’, teach them how to use kitchen utensils properly. Baking is a great activity because it doesn’t involve sharp knives or a hot stove. 


Embrace the mess

Cooking can be messy work for adults, so you can expect that mess to increase when you let your little one help in the kitchen! Let them have fun with it; you’ll have a little companion in the kitchen for life. Besides patience, cooking also helps your child develop numeracy and science skills. They won’t even know it’s educational because they’re having fun.


Grow your own

Watercress and other herbs are tasty and great for growing on windowsills or balconies. Ask your little one to pick a few herbs for you when you’re cooking dinner. Take them to your local garden centre and allow them to choose a tomato or strawberry plant to care for. If you have more space, fruit trees are fantastic. Picking berries creates a wonderful childhood memory. 


Anna Gare is a TV cook, cookbook author and ambassador for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. Follow Anna on Instagram 


Nicola Conville is a freelance journalist and mum of two

The information on this site does not constitute advice and should not be relied upon in making, or refraining from making, any decision. The information on this site should not replace the expertise of qualified professionals, and if you have any concerns, you should always consult a qualified professional.

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