26th Mar 2017

Nutrition Tips - Cooking With Kids



What are the benefits?

What and where: cooking shows children how different foods go into making a recipe and how mixing them together and cooking change the way they look and feel.

Encourage an adventurous plate: children are commonly fussy eaters, so bringing them into the kitchen to help can open them up to trying new flavours and textures. Encourage them to try new ingredients, talk about what they like and how healthy food is important for growth.

Explore the senses: kids learn through their senses, therefore the kitchen is perfect. Invite them to listen to the sounds of the mixer and foods popping in the pan, watching baking rise and smelling it cooking in the oven. If it smells good, looks good and they have seen how it is made they are more likely to try it.

Boost confidence: children love to show what they can do and letting them help in the kitchen gives them an opportunity to show you what they can do. If they help mix the batter for a cake or vegetables for a salad let them know that their help was very important and even name the meal after them ‘Sophie’s Salad’. Even if it doesn’t turn out as expected, praise their efforts.

Build basic skills: cooking can help build basic maths skills such as counting the eggs or pouring water into a measuring jug. When you follow a recipe together, you are introducing new words into their vocabulary (e.g. whisk, peel, grate), promoting literacy, as well as listening skills.


Cooking with Toddlers

Everything you do with a toddler requires patience, therefore it is a good idea to start with simple, short tasks which match your child’s skill level and attention span. For example:

  • Washing fruit and vegetables
  • Getting ingredients out of the cupboard/fridge
  • Putting rubbish in the bin
  • Stirring cake mixtures or tossing salads


Cooking with Pre-schoolers

This is a good stage to introduce recipes which require building such as layers for a sandwich or using yogurt and muesli to make a healthy, layered dessert. At this age, children are also old enough to help with setting the table, serving up the food and cleaning up after meals. Try some of these ideas to get started:

  • Fruit salad and yoghurt
  • Homemade dips such as hummus
  • Mashed potato
  • Salad sandwich

Children’s minds are like sponges so the earlier you can get them involved and introduce new skills and foods the better!

If there are any specific nutrition topics you want to know more about, please either contact me on 0447438736 or at pendulumdietetics@gmail.com  or mention your suggestions to your child care centre. Check out www.pendulumdietetics.com for more information!

Healthy Regards

Hannah Sweetnam (APD Pendulum Dietetics)