As we await some consistent sunshine why not occupy your toddler(s) with some cooking fun. Not only is cooking a brilliant activity to keep them occupied, it is economical if you select ingredients carefully, educational learning about numbers, weights, ingredients, new tastes and healthy eating. They can learn new skills whilst giving them an appreciation for where food comes from. However, most importantly it is one of the most enjoyable bonding activities to do with your toddler(s).
An entire morning can be spent simply getting all the children’s coats, hats and wellies on to walk to the shops to purchase the ingredients. In the shop they are proudly holding the shopping basket and seem to touch every item you walk past as you reason with them why they can’t buy every ingredient. Before you know it you take a basket piled high of ingredients with a few added extras that you have compromised on. You allow your toddler to give the cashier the money before watching it fall all over the floor as a rather large queue forms behind you!
The cooking activities commence – it could be the simplest recipe in the world but your toddler(s) always seem to end up needing a change of clothes and the kitchen floor needing a steam clean afterwards! As they ‘gently’ beat the egg or ‘slowly’ sieve the flour … you watch it spill over the sides onto the counter and then the floor you can sometimes be forgiven for wondering why you had embarked upon this cooking activity!! Even putting bun cases in the bun tray could be mistaken for being a ‘clean’ activity and before you know it they are scattered all over the floor sticking to the ‘gloop’ that you had missed whilst cleaning up the earlier spills!
Amazingly the washing up can bring more mess as you see white foam floating around your kitchen alongside little puddles on the floor and inevitably toddlers are drenched from their over-excitement of playing with water.
You do it because their enjoyment is priceless. Their smiles and giggles throughout the activity is worth it. It is seen as a ‘grown up’ thing to do yet they never tire of this messy fun and the bonus is … they might actually eat something nutritious as a result!
*Cooking Skills that Under 5s can learn:
- Buttering a slice of bread
- Cracking eggs into a bowl
- Crushing biscuits for bases in a plastic bag with a rolling pin
- Crushing garlic in a garlic press
- Cutting pastry or dough shapes out using cookie cutters
- Cutting soft fruit such as a banana with a non sharp knife
- Decorating fairy cakes or biscuits
- Grating cheese
- Kneading and rolling out dough using a rolling pin
- Mashing bananas with the back of a fork
- Mashing potatoes with a potato masher
- Peeling vegetables with a vegetable peeler
- Rubbing in butter and flour for a crumble or pastry
- Sieving flour
- Whisking eggs in a bowl
We recommend the following recipe that toddlers will just love to make and adore to eat:
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup caster sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup (80mL) oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 ripe bananas, mashed
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base of a loaf pan
Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in the sugars. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, oil and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients with mashed banana and fold until just combined – do not overmix.
Place in the loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and slice thickly.
If you are cooking with a toddler when you have a newborn baby you might be thankful for the muslins, dribble bibs or swaddles to protect your baby from these messy cooking sessions! Additionally you might look for some toys to keep your baby occupied.