Stress Free Cooking at Home with your Toddler!

Cooking with Kids - teli Early Learning TIPS

By Kim Morrow, Developmental Specialist

Believe it or not, cooking can be great fun for both you and your toddler! Creating something delicious to eat helps them explore a variety of skills that are essential to their development. Cooking can encourage physical skills such as grasping a cup of an ingredient to dump, stirring with a spoon, as well as expanding language skills while you talk about what you are doing.   Additionally, cooking together offers opportunities to increase your child’s ability to follow directions, learn about size and build sensory experiences with new tastes and smells.

Our teli staff has some stress-free tips to make your time in the kitchen educational and enjoyable for both you and your child!

  • Keep the activity to about 15 minutes. This is the ideal time to “whip” something up and keep your child’s interest!
  • Plan an “off time” to get cooking rather than in the middle of meal preparation so you are not rushed.
  • Get comfortable, embrace the mess, and get them involved in the clean up!
  • Select a simple recipe with 5 ingredients or less. You can have them help you pick the recipe by flipping through options online or your favorite cookbook. You could even find a cookbook just for kids that has yummy recipes.
  • Be ready, so take the time to premeasure the ingredients and have them readily available so the activity can flow smoothly.
  • Choose recipes that involve rolling, spreading, dumping, stirring, and mixing such as the following:
    • Apple roll ups – Roll out crescent roll dough, arrange apple slices on top and sprinkle on cinnamon sugar or drizzle Nutella. Bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes.
    • Peanut Butter Bananas Toast – Help them use a plastic knife to slice the bananas then spread peanut butter on the already toasted bread and finally place the bananas on the toast and enjoy!
    • Fruit Smoothie – Select some of your child’s favorite fruits, yogurt or oatmilk, and some spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and/or vanilla ready in individual cups. Have them dump each into a blender one at a time and then comes the really fun part- Push the button to BLEND! Talk about how the foods feel (sticky, slimy, bumpy), smell and taste. You can focus on words like: On/Off, Go, Again, Mix, Pour, Drink, Cold.
    • Breakfast Muffins or Cupcakes – Using a store-bought mix or your own recipe encourage your child to dump the dry ingredients and pour the liquid ingredients into a mixing bowl. Show them how to use a spoon or whisk to stir and mix with one hand while holding the bowl with the other.  Line the muffin tin with paper baking cups and have them help you fill each one, counting along the way! Pop them in the oven and have them set a timer on your oven or phone so they can tell you when they are ready to eat!
    • Pizza – Show them how to use a rolling pin and let them give it a try. Arrange individual cups of sauce to spread, cheese to sprinkle and cut up vegetable like peppers, spinach, broccoli or even pineapple to place on the dough. Bake and devour.

Taking the time to explore cooking with your child can become a very special learning activity with a great tasting outcome to enjoy together! For more information about teli Early Intervention Services, call 412-922-8322.