Toddlers are all about habits, aren’t they? They are trying to figure out the world so whatever is familiar to them gives them a sense of comfort.
I want my kids to understand that preparing food takes effort and time and I want them to see this as part of daily life. Being in the kitchen for a few minutes a day should be something normal for them so I try to involve them as much as I can in kitchen “duties”. 2-year olds might not be ready to chop up vegetables, but they can sure help in loading / unloading the dishwasher, throwing apple peels in the trashcan, placing broccoli florets in the steamer and so on. Their “help” at this point is not that helpful, and it even takes a few more minutes of my time, but I think it’s important to involve them in food prepping and make them feel that they’re contributing in making a meal. Have you ever tried this? I have found they tend to eat better when they feel they had something to do with the cooking.
Another way of getting your kids involved is for them to help you at the grocery store. One of our family’s traditions is going to the farmer’s market on Sundays. We bring the kids and have them help grabbing produce and placing it in bags and we of course get them some snacks which helps in keeping everybody happy! I know it’s always easier to do grocery shopping by yourself, but if you can, get your kids involved in choosing their food (particularly produce) and see how they react differently when they understand where their food is coming from. Even better, if there are any farms open to the public in your area, try taking your kids to them to pick fruits and vegetables. I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t love this kind of experience!
I find it extremely satisfying when my kids remember the produce they chose and then help me prepare it. I think they actually grow fonder of the foods they helped to choose and prepare. Besides being healthy for them, it’s kind of adorable! What are your ideas for getting kids involved in the kitchen?
Post by Karla Russek Nasir, MD