Getting Kids in the Kitchen for the Holidays
Getting kids in the kitchen to decrease picky eating tendencies is very popular on social media. But you may be worried that it will take more time to get dinner on the table, or that the process will be very messy. There are so many benefits of having your kids help you in the kitchen… and I encourage you to reconsider your misgivings! Here are a few ideas and tips to get your kids in the kitchen for the holidays.
Time: The beauty of having your children in the kitchen is that you get to spend quality time with them. Most of the children I see in feeding therapy tell me how excited they are to bake cookies, make a gingerbread house or have hot cocoa with their parents during the holidays. These holiday food rituals are important to kids; they provide a way to connect with the grown-ups! Including your kiddos in the kitchen also can provide trust and curiosity about new textures, tastes and smells.
Family Recipes: For some families cooking is a holiday tradition where special recipes and family food secrets are used or shared. Why not get your little one(s) involved in this tradition now? Some of my favorite childhood memories are making homemade tamales and tortillas with extended family. It was a rite of passage when - finally, at eighteen years old - I received the secret recipe for these family favorites. Is there a special food secret in your family that you could share with your kids?
Education: As a speech language pathologist, I cook with children in order to focus on muliti-step directions as well as sequencing concepts (first, next, last, before, after). You can also use this time to focus on reading comprehension and new vocabulary words (blender, spatula, ladle). If your child is struggling with present progressive verbs, cooking gives you multiple opportunities to practice them (making, eating, whisking, cutting, stirring). There are so many other learning opportunities for your kids in the kitchen, too, including math, physics, geography and science!
Kitchen Jobs: You can get kids of all ages involved in the kitchen. If you are not sure where to start, here are a few ‘kitchen jobs’ by age to give you some inspiration!Infants: You can expose your infant to a variety of smells and visual experiences while baby wearing when you cook. Older babies can help in the kitchen by:
- Washing fruits and vegetables
- Using a rolling pin
- Stirring ingredients
- Ripping lettuce and kale
- Kneading dough
- Shaking liquids in a container to mix them
Placing fruit in a fruit bowl
- Breaking cauliflower or broccoli into pieces
- Carrying ingredients from one place to another
- Cracking eggs
- Cutting shapes with cookie cutters
- Pouring ingredients
- Placing fruit on a lollipop stick
- Filling ice trays
- Cutting parsley with kid safe scissors
- Snapping green beans or peas
- Placing lettuce in a salad spinner
- Decorating the Mini Mat or Happy Mat
- Helping to choose a recipe from a cookbook
- Setting timers
- Measuring ingredients
Cooking together can be a great family activity. It allows kids to learn how ingredients turn into a delicious meal, and is a great way to encourage healthy eating habits! If you use ezpz products during the holidays, please tag us with the hashtag #ezpzfun so we can share your family meals with our community.
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 28 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating tendencies. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning feeding products.