Including your children in the preparation of food helps teach them respect for what they are eating and adds to their confidence in accomplishing little tasks for the whole family. While at first it may seem like yet another way to create more clearing up, most mums find this shared activity hugely enjoyable and your child's delight upon seeing the results of his work are priceless!
Ten cooking activities your kids will love
- Blending smoothies
- Mixing cake
- Topping pizzas
- Rolling dough
- Cutting cookie shape
- Mashing potato
- Filling muffin cases
- Brushing pastry with milk or beaten egg
- Weighing ingredients
- Scooping ice cream into bowls
Most of us look back fondly to helping with sweet things like mixing cookies and cakes. No doubt your children will love these activities, but they can also help from a young age with a range of different activities, from measuring ingredients for baking bread to preparing fruit and topping pizzas.
It almost goes without saying, however, that the kitchen holds a number of potential hazards so it is important that you keep a watchful eye on junior cooks and closely supervise any activity involving bladed utensils, heat or water.
Listen and learn
To make the most of cooking with your children, explain what you are doing at each stage, and why. For example, why you wash foods or why you heat hard fruits and vegetables until they become soft and chewy.
If you're making cakes, it can be fun to let your child try a little of each individual ingredient (except for the raw egg!) and then compare their tastes to the finished cake.
Mixing and stirring
Many kids simply want to be involved with their parents as food is being prepared and one of the best ways to encourage this is to offer simple tasks that are easily accomplished. Mixing and stirring come in to this category, and providing they are given a stable platform or chair to help them reach the work surface safely, there is no reason why toddlers can't help out in this way, even stirring sauces over a low heat (with supervision for older children).
If he's too young to be near the stove, simply allowing your child to add a dollop of crème fraiche to a soup that you have created using your Braun MultiQuick hand blender can be fun.
Kids love smoothies and shakes and because they're packed with healthy fruits and vegetables, they should be a regular part of your child's diet. Under supervision, children will love using your Braun MultiQuick hand blender to mix these delicious drinks and because of the Braun MultiQuick's anti-splashing shaft, there shouldn't be too much mess to clear up!
Braun MultiQuick hand blenders are completely safe if used according to the manufacturer's instructions. However, they all use sharp, rapidly spinning blades, which may not be obvious to a child.
You can let your child enjoy watching you prepare foods with your electrical appliances, but young children should not be allowed to use these tools except under watchful supervision. It is also important to unplug and put away electrical appliances after use if your children are helping you in the kitchen.
It is a good idea to talk about cooking safely to your children to help them learn the best way to behave in the kitchen.
Bread and rolls
Kids love playing with dough and many infants' first experience of cooking comes with making bread and rolls. On the whole, the ingredients for bread dough are pretty easy to measure out and precision with quantities is not critical.
Rolling, kneading or even just playing with the dough won't generally harm the results of baking, although you do need to make sure that none of the uncooked dough finds its way into inquisitive little mouths. Squashing and shaping dough also helps teach important dexterity skills.
There is little to compare with the look of pleasure on your child's face when she sees a beautiful, golden crusty loaf emerge from the oven, with its comforting aroma and delicious, chewy texture.
Brightly coloured and fun to eat, pizzas are a childhood favourite, and there's no better way to make eating fun than to allow your kids to select favourite toppings and decorate their own pizzas themselves. Many of the toppings found on adult pizzas – such as salty olives and anchovies – aren't suitable for small children's diets, but there are plenty of other choices to go wild with! Often, allowing children to choose their own toppings helps them become more adventurous and try things they might otherwise be unconfident with.
They will especially enjoy arranging neatly chopped vegetables that you have prepared for them in advance using your Braun MultiQuick hand blender's chopping attachment.
If they're feeling really creative, it's easy for children to cut and shape ingredients to make faces or other pictures on a pizza base – or even make the pizza dough too and roll it out themselves.
Even without a sharp knife, children can make themselves useful while you are cooking by preparing and mixing together salads of fruit or vegetables. Many fruits can be cut easily with plastic knives or blunt table knives, particularly ripe bananas, kiwi fruits, peaches and avocados. Other foods, like cherry tomatoes and small antipasti don't need cutting at all and there's nothing to stop young children tearing salad leaves or mixing dressings under supervision.
For younger children and toddlers, simply allowing them to arrange and 'toss' salad ingredients that you have already chopped using your Braun MultiQuick hand blender is a fun way to get them helping out at mealtimes.
The importance of cleaning up
It's never too early to introduce your children to the importance of clearing up – particularly in the kitchen. Properly equipped with a waterproof apron, most kids will at least try to help with the washing or drying up, particularly if you start them off with plastic items that won't get damaged if dropped or handled roughly.
Some safety rules
Kitchens are filled with exciting – and sometimes hazardous – equipment. Make it clear to your child which items she is allowed to use and when she might be allowed to move on to other utensils that only older children and adults can use.
- Don't let your baby lie or sit on the floor while you are preparing food.
- Keep appliance leads out of reach, well away from the edge of work surfaces.
- Keep saucepan handles turned in from the edge of the oven to avoid them being grabbed or knocked.
- Keep kids out of the kitchen if you're in a hurry to prepare a meal.