As my daughter is getting older, she is showing increasing interest in food preparation. From a very young age, she would join me at the kitchen counter, getting her little hands involved here and there, but generally just enjoying being in each other’s company. Recently I have seen her wanting to do more.
I started setting aside tasks specifically for her when we were in the kitchen. At first, it was washing the fruit and vegetables (which she loves! What toddler doesn’t adore playing with water?). More recently she has been mixing and pouring dry ingredients.
While I was thinking about what else could be introduced to her in the kitchen, I decided I would give her the opportunity to prepare her snack! This would be her first time making a plate of food and not parts of a meal – I was very excited.
Setting up the food preparation activity
Lately, my daughter has been loving peanut butter on toast. I thought this would be a simple meal for her to make for herself, by herself.
So I put a piece of toast on a plate, with a (rather blunt) butter knife and a small bowl with just the right amount of peanut butter. I have learned, with a toddler, only give them what they need. Believe it or not, they do not have the restraint of an adult and absolutely will get into every last bit of that peanut butter. I set this on her table and invited her to come and make her snack. She was a bit hesitant at first, of course, this was something new! But after we sat together and I did a couple of spreads of peanut butter, she jumped right in.
It was so lovely to see her focus on this activity as well as the satisfaction when she was done and could eat the toast.
Yes, my daughter making her snack takes a whole lot longer than if I were to do it, and there is more mess and cleaning. But the happiness on my daughter’s face and the development of her concentration, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination make it worthwhile.
For the moment we will stick with spreading interchangeable spreads and bread. But I am looking forward to introducing her to more food preparation activities – cutting soft fruits such as bananas, strawberries and watermelon, pouring cereal and milk, making guacamole. I’m considering what she enjoys eating and aiming to focus on one skill per activity to begin with.
Here is are some products I’ll be adding to my daughter’s kitchen:
This is the perfect knife set to get you started. The crinkle cut knife is perfect for first experiences with cutting and chopping.
When doing any sort of pouring we want the jug to be appropriately sized for your child and their hands. An adult-sized jug will be cumbersome and difficult for them to manage with accuracy. Keep this in mind when purchasing and offering food preparation items for your child.
Use something like this when cleaning fruits and vegetables. The scrubber should fit comfortably in your child’s hand.