Looking for ideas to make memories for your little ones during the holidays? How about putting on some seasonal music, open your favorite cookbook and have them join you in the kitchen!
Helping with cooking and baking make wonderful traditions for your child, while exploring different kinds of foods. The key to success is picking simple chores that your child can do. Here are a few ways to get your toddler or preschooler excited about holiday food through cooking:
- Washing the foods. Place a small, sturdy stool or chair in front of the sink, fill a large bowl or salad spinner with water, and show your child how to swish the lettuce leaves. Keep a towel and mop handy and remember to dress your child in clothing and shoes that can get wet.
- Cutting soft foods. Place children at the table with a cutting board and a plastic picnic knife. Provide a soft fruit or vegetable to cut like a banana, peeled melon wedge or mushrooms. Sit with them and show how to cut the food. You can also ask an older child to help their sibling.
- Making funny faces. Ask your preschooler to help make “funny face” plates. Give them an assortment of peach, pear, mandarin orange and apple slices, along with raisins and nuts. Show them ways to arrange the fruits on a plate to make a face. Ask them to make their own funny faces on the other plates.
- Layering parfaits. Give your child cut fruit, yogurt and granola or breakfast cereal. Show them how to layer these foods into parfaits in clear plastic cups. Don’t worry if the layers are uneven . . . parfaits do not have to be perfect!
- Dumping and stirring. Children love dumping flour and other ingredients into bowls. Have them stir together dry ingredients in large bowls. It’s great fun for young kids to help create delicious muffins, pancakes or cupcakes.
Make sure to follow food safety basics. Have children was their hands before touching food and whenever they get messy or greasy. Keep breakables and sharp knives out of reach. And be sure to avoid working with foods that can be a choking hazard for little ones.
Having fun experiences with food in the kitchen allows children to become more open minded towards trying new foods, and ultimately develop healthier food choices. Even children who are picky eaters are more likely to try new foods if they are involved in the food preparation.
Here are some more ways to involve kids in the holiday preparation:
- Kids can help with menu planning
- Let them help create the grocery shopping list and write down the names of the foods. Here is a printable holiday grocery list categorized by food group.
- Have the kids help pick the fresh produce and find items on the list
- Little ones can watch while you explain the different steps of your holiday recipe. Maybe share some family memories of your own!
- Kids can help set the table.
- Let the children name their dish for a fun bonus. They will love creating a special name like “Ava’s Gooey Gravy”.
- Children can help decorate the table with cute holiday decorations.
Be sure to have kids also help in the clean up after cooking. Make it a little game. Each person can count the number of foods and kitchen items they put away. Or they try to find a rhyming word to go with the item being put away. Before you know it, the kitchen is sparkling clean and everyone had fun!
During the holiday season, while it seems everyone is running in different directions, cooking with little ones during the holiday season gives you and them time to step away from the hectic season and have fun together. It provides family togetherness time that offers time to talk with your children about their world. It also provides family bonding time.
This holiday season make fun memories for the whole family
and especially with your toddler or preschooler! Have fun creating wonderful
scents that will fill the kitchen and remain in your child’s heart.
The staff at T’s Learning Center, the top-rated childcare provider in St. Augustine, Jacksonville and surrounding areas, hopes these ideas and tips will make this holiday season a truly memorable event for the whole family and especially with your toddler or preschooler. We wish your holidays are filled with the spirit of sharing experiences.