Last Summer we were playing “making soup” in the kid’s swimming pool of the hotel we were staying at, and an adult made a remark, saying “Oh! He even pretends to put olive oil and salt!”. I remember at the time thinking “Hummm…of course, he is making pretend-soup, so he uses pretend olive oil and pretend sea-salt!”. After thinking a bit I realised how funny it must have been for that men to see a 2 year old so aware of what goes into a soup, apart from the (most obvious) vegetables.
Babies are around when we cook, and somehow they see and take part on what is done. The Older One started to be more active on the cooking when he was maybe 10/11 months old. As it wasn’t safe for him to stand on a bench/chair, I would just take his Stokke chair (still with the tripp trapp set) to the kitchen bench and let him “help”:
- tasting raw food (as I don’t eat/cook meat, this is almost always safe). Sometimes he would love the tasting (peppers, carrots, cucumber, mushrooms, etc) and sometimes he would have nasty surprises, as when he tried raw potato.
- helping mixing things. Even if you don’t really need pasta to be mixed with a wooden spoon in a bowl before boiling, why not do it??!
Now that he is almost 3 years old he knows how the food gets cooked, he knows which foods we usually make in the oven or in the stove. He now is allowed to stand on one of these little ladders from Ikea and helps for example:
- Cutting vegetables, with a plastic knife or a children’s metal knife.
- Mixing things.
- Turning on and off the electrical appliances (mixer, kettle, etc).
- Helping washing the things we use as we cook (cutting boards, etc).
- Putting olive oil, salt and spices in the food.
- Helping washing the vegetables and salad.
Some things are dangerous, so we have some rules:
- he can’t touch the stove or anything on the stove. He can’t stand on the ladder in front of the stove. If he would like to see food cooking he needs to ask and I will pick him up and show it to him briefly. I do not encourage this at all as I am always afraid of hot things spilling out.
- He can’t touch my knives. No matter what. If he is unhappy with the way his knife is (not) cutting, he can ask for help and we try another child-friendly knife.
- If he wants to try the food while cooking, he must not throw the bitten food into the cooking (we had some bitten-food-being-sent-into-the-pan-and-being-served “accidents”)
With rules as simple as these, usually cooking together is great fun, and a daily ritual.