Five ways to encourage kids to have fun in the kitchen

In this article, Denby share their tips for getting your little ones involved in the kitchen – and ensuring they have fun while they’re doing it.

Cooking is a vital life skill, but it can also be a very fun hobby. From creating exciting dishes and trying out new cooking techniques to enjoying the fruits of your labour afterwards, there’s plenty to enjoy.

If you love spending time in the kitchen then you’ll no doubt be wondering how to pass on that joy to your little one, especially if they seem reluctant or even scared to start their culinary journey. 

Fortunately, there are many ways you can turn cooking, baking, and otherwise spending time in the kitchen into a wonderful, shared experience filled with opportunities for learning as well as play. Here, I’ll share just a few to get you started.

1) Turn it into a game

Spending time in the kitchen doesn’t always have to be about cooking, as there are lots of games you can play just for fun. Asking your little one to taste a few different foods while blindfolded can be a great way to spend an afternoon, and it can help them learn to identify different flavours (and possibly try some new ones, too).

For older kids, activities like boiling the perfect runny egg or making as many pancakes as possible can be turned into a competition, increasing their confidence as they play.

2) Try sensory experiences

Food isn’t just about taste – it provides a total sensory experience due to the various sights, smells, sounds, and textures you experience when cooking and eating. These experiences are all great for your little one’s cognitive development, so ask them what they can taste, hear, see, smell, and feel as you go along.

If they’re helping you out while you cook, try to get them involved with lots of different kinds of food and cooking techniques so they are exposed to as many new sensory experiences as possible. 

3) Teach them new skills 

Kids can sometimes be reluctant to try new things, but learning a new skill can do wonders for their confidence, especially if they end up finding something that they’re good at. Start with low-risk jobs like stirring, whisking, reading the recipe out loud, or weighing ingredients, then move on to more complicated cooking methods.

Talk them through what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and if they seem curious about something, encourage them to have a go at it under your supervision.

4) Let them take charge

Following the recipe and listening to instructions are very important kitchen skills for any child to learn, but they will also benefit from taking charge once in a while!

Any task where they can choose their own combinations of ingredients, such as toppings or decorations, will get their creativity flowing while also giving them a sense of independence. Eventually, they can try coming up with their own recipes and experimenting with new ideas.

5) Make it fun

We’ve all been told not to play with our food, but why not when it comes to cooking and learning? From making faces out of pizza toppings to cupcake decorating and even putting together cute bento boxes, there’s no reason why food can’t be fun.

Don’t worry if what you make together doesn’t turn out perfect (as long as it’s safe to eat), because mistakes are great learning opportunities. It can help to discuss what they think went wrong and what they think they’d do differently next time, to get them thinking positively about their experience in the kitchen.

Spending quality time together in the kitchen can be a great way to learn and play, as well as pass on a love for cooking and baking. If you’re looking for ways to make your little one feel more comfortable in the kitchen, the tips in this guide can help. 

Photo by Annie Spratt