Food has always played an important part of our family life. When the girls were born it was very important to us that they grow up with a natural love of food; we wanted them to appreciate the beauty of food yet respect it and learn good eating habits. It’s a fine line of course, encouraging them to eat and try new things but to understand not to overeat as they grow up. So from a very young age I’ve encouraged them to help out in the kitchen.
It wasn’t easy at first. Having your 2 year old make cakes with you when you are a little bit of a neatness control freak is very stressful, but as the years went on, I learned to relax and they became more practised. Now aged 12 and 9 they are adept at baking, very confident with cooking and love trying new recipes. The eldest daughter even has her own baking blog called Monday Mixing where she shares her latest recipes.
So if you’re looking for ways to encourage your children to get more into food, check out my 5 easy ways to get kids baking.
1.Start at a Young Age
You can never start too young. Encourage your toddlers as soon as they can hold a mixing sppon to help you in the kitchen. Let them stir the mixture, help you weigh out ingredients and decorate the cakes. This is how they come to understand where our food comes from. The joy of watching a toddler peer through an oven door as the cake rises is wonderful.
2. Get Messy
Now this was a tricky one for me, but try to allow them to make a mess. They need to be ok with sticky mixtures, flour all over them, and dirty hands and faces. It’s the basis of good, healthy eating habits too. A child who is afraid to get messy could be a more fussy eater so learning to get down and dirty with food is a great habit. If you struggle with the mess put down plastic sheets and put them in older clothes. They’ll thank you for it later.
3. Watch Food programmes
As they get older allow them to watch cookery and food programmes on tv. Children’s tv have age appropriate versions, but now mine are older they love following shows like the Great British Bake Off, it’s a huge favourite in our house. This article here talks about the rise of GBBO and the influence it’s had on the food and baking market. Making food and baking fun is the main aim and nurturing their love of food through programmes like this is a great way to build on their skills.
4. Reading Recipes
Cookery books are available that suit all ages and my girls have always had appropriate versions since they were small. They’ve loved making their own version of cupcakes and biscuits from their own cookery books, and now they’re very confident at following a recipe from a Mary Berry, Nigella or Delia book.
5, Make It Fun
Above all learning to bake with an adult should be fun. There should be a reward, namely getting to taste your bakes. Of course how will you improve if you don’t eat the end result. Licking the bowl and sitting down to eat a beautifully decorated cupcake is all part of the enjoyment, and as long as it’s done with a measure of restraint there’s really no harm in it.