My club

Annabel Karmel’s tips for cooking with little ones

print page image

Most children simply love to cook. Some of my happiest memories of my children growing up are of spending time with them cooking and baking. Not only did it create memories to last a lifetime, but it was a great opportunity to teach them all sorts of invaluable skills – especially the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet.

As long as you are allowing your children to cook with a variety of foods, they will learn all about getting the balance right between choosing healthy, wholesome options and enjoying occasional treats. So roll those sleeves up, fasten your aprons and get ready!

  • What a mess – Let’s face it; cooking with kids is never going to be mess-free. Spending time in the kitchen with different smells, sights and textures should be a fun and memorable experience, so don’t worry about a bit of mess. Using a plastic tablecloth can make clearing up a bit easier and get your children wearing aprons or old clothes that can be thrown straight into the washing machine.
  • Get equipped – Use equipment that won’t break easily; plastic bowls, wooden spoons, plastic cookie cutters and wooden rolling pins. Silicone cupcake moulds are good for baking small batches of cakes as well as for making mini omelettes or jelly.
  • New skills – Kids learn by watching and doing and you’ll be surprised how many skills they pick up this way. Encouraging children to peel, chop, stir and serve also helps children develop their hand-eye coordination.
  • Mini cooks –  Kids can join you in the kitchen earlier than you think. Children around the age of three love to measure with spoons, mix, stir, roll dough and cut out shapes with cookie cutters, albeit with a helping hand. They also love playing with different textures of food. Give them bowls of different ingredients and let them explore while you are doing the lion’s share of the work.
  • Keep it simple –  Children (especially tots) have short attention spans so choose recipes that are extra easy and provide a result reasonably quickly.
  • Food hygiene –  Ensure they wash their hands before they touch any ingredients and also in between touching raw and cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
  • Make it fun! –  Children will learn to love cooking if you relax and have fun with them in the kitchen. If you feel nervous, start with basic recipes – they're still a good learning experience. Only step in when it's absolutely necessary, otherwise let them enjoy and create.

Want more?

For lots more fun recipes, download Annabel’s Essential Guide to Feeding Your Baby & Toddler App on iTunes. With instant access to 200 delicious, easy-to-follow recipes, as well as advice, tips and recipe videos, it’s the ultimate guide to great food.