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My Mum likes Venice. A LOT. She would literally fly off every Friday evening for the weekend if she could! A direct result of her mild obsession is the occasional beautiful Venetian gift, usually for the kids, and sometimes for me too (because I am definitely her favourite child, sorry boys!) Our most recent gifts got me thinking about baking and cooking with kids, and why it’s so important.
Her last two trips to Venice resulted in these absolute beauties – hand sewn and personalised chef’s aprons and hats, and a brilliant hand-sewn bib for Wills. When I was on maternity leave after Amelia was born, I did a huge amount of cooking and baking, but slowly other things have got in the way and I think my Mum was trying, in her oh-so-subtle way, to jump start the passion again, both for me and the kids. Because Amelia does love a good baking session, what kid doesn’t, right?!
I started thinking about why I haven’t really been baking much with Amelia lately, and the reasons I should be doing a bit more. So here are my top five reasons why baking and cooking with kids is a must!
A good cooking or baking session can fill up a whole morning or afternoon.
While this isn’t always ideal, and that kid of time isn’t always available, when you are short of ideas to keep the kids occupied, or want to keep them occupied for a significant period of time, baking and cooking is perfect!
Kids can get involved at any age.
Aside from really small babies, you can get kids of all ages involved in a baking or cooking activity. Babies can get involved by giving them wooden spoons to practice their grasp, and batons of food items to taste, while older children can get really stuck in with the weighing, mixing etc.
Baking and cooking with kids covers a whole range of developmental learning opportunities.
Giving ingredients a good mix up allows children to practice their motor skills, and you can help to develop number recognition by asking children to point out numbers on the weighing scales. You can introduce concepts of time and clock reading by showing your child where the hands need to be on the clock before you take your food out of the oven. Older children can practice their reading and writing by helping you to write and read a list of ingredients, or instructions for the recipe you are using. And naturally, baking gives kids a good opportunity to showcase their creativity and imagination in the decoration and presentation of their cooked or baked goods!
Baking and cooking with kids helps to develop their confidence
Allowing children to get involved in the kitchen makes them feel like you are giving them some responsibility, and makes them feel important. When children feel important, their confidence grows, and this will show! It will also develop their confidence in the kitchen, and help to make them aware of potential dangers in the kitchen and put those dangers into context. Often a child will not really understand why something is dangerous (no matter how many times you tell them) until they see it for themselves. For example, you can tell a child a thousand times that the oven is hot, but until they feel the heat emanating from the oven as they help to put food in the oven, they will not truly understand.
Baking and cooking with kids helps to nurture a good relationship with food
With a third of children aged 10-11 and a fifth of 4-5 year-olds classed as obese in the UK (http://www.noo.org.uk/NOO_about_obesity/child_obesity), developing positive relationships with food has never been so important. When you cook and bake with children you can talk to them about where food comes from, the importance of a balanced diet, and allow them to experience first-hand the joy of creating a beautifully tasting meal from scratch! What’s more, children are far more likely to finish their meal if they have helped to cook it. Children feel a sense of pride in creating things, and food is no different. The experience of cooking will be a fun and exciting one, and how they feel about the meal that they eat will mirror those feelings. A positive relationship with food is arguably one of the biggest factors in promoting healthy eating in children.
How about you? Do you cook or bake with your children? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
This post first appeared on Winnettes Parenting & Baking Blog in Kirsty’s Baking with Children series of guest posts.