Ever notice that in this day and age, more and more children are picky eaters? Parents feel they have to make a different dinner for their children, or “they won’t eat”. Are you afraid your child will be one of them? Open your home’s Kitchen Heart and Child Friendly your kitchen to avoid this common issue, now, starting when your child is a baby.
Imagine if you will, your toddler, barely over one year old, coming home hungry. Now imagine that instead of going to her highchair, and asking for food, she follows you into the kitchen, and asks to help.
First, she happily pulls frozen individual meatballs from a bag, and puts them on a cookie sheet to cook. Then, she transfers sliced mushrooms to a frying pan, keeping one out to taste test. She then helps with the spices for the spaghetti sauce, and the noodles by pouring the items into the right pans, again grabbing a dry pasta noodle to taste test.
Now, for the hard part, where you would think everything falls apart. She has to wait, but behold, she is waiting quietly, watching you stir the sauce and the noodles, as the plates start to get taken up, and then as the meatballs are added to the plate. As it gets time for dinner, she wants to go to her high chair. When dinner is done, she is eager to try the meatballs, something she was not interested in until she got to cook them.
Does this sound too good to be true? While many may think that, this was my night tonight. Samantha, just under 14 months of age, did all that and more to help me in the kitchen tonight. Not only that, but when I cook, Samantha insists on helping.
So how did I do it, and how can you do this as well? Just follow these five simple steps to a Child Friendly Kitchen:
1) Say goodbye to the kitchen baby gate. I know, it is there because you don’t think your kitchen is child proof enough. The floor may not be mopped daily, and little toddlers love to pick things off the floor. Take the time to clean the floor to keep it safe, but remember a little dirt never hurt anyone. Won’t it be nice not to have your child crying at the child gate while you cook? After all, you don’t want her thinking that food is something to be scared of.
2) Say goodbye to the cabinet locks. This may sound like a scary one, but it really is simpler than you would think. Move all poisons into your laundry room or onto a high shelf. Rearrange your kitchen so that all breakables are in the top cabinets, and keep your pots, pans, cutting boards, and Tupperware down low (throw in a few wooden spoons while you are at it). Now, you changed the kitchen tools from uninviting dangers into fun toy chests.
3) As much as you safely can, let your baby see what you are doing. This can be by strapping her to your back, holding her on your hip, securing her in a highchair, or having your husband or wife hold him. She will love to see what you are doing, and will start to show patience when she knows food is being made.
4) When it is not safe to hold your baby, show her the kitchen toy boxes. It is important to know when it is not safe to hold your baby, when there is a knife or heat involved, among other time. Let her play at your feet. At first, these will just be fun toys, then they will be what mommy use, and finally, she will want to actively help you cook.
5) Listen to when your baby is ready to help “cook”. At some point, your baby will start trying to help you cook. Samantha let me know just after 12 months that she was ready. She took the spoon I was using, and started stirring. Pay attention to your baby, and start with easy jobs, such as putting the mushrooms in the pan. Let her embrace food and learn to love it.
That’s all, these five simple steps to a child friendly kitchen will take the pickiness out of your child and invite the kitchen heart into her life.
Take inventory, how is your kitchen not child friendly, and what steps are you going to take to change that? Tell me below, and don’t forget to use it as an entry to my monthly cookbook giveaway.