A fantastic way to get children to eat healthy and try new foods is to involve them in the kitchen.

Children can start being involved in food preparation from a young age. For some families the idea of letting little hands be involved in the kitchen can be stressful. But here are some helpful hints to keep it enjoyable and safe.

Keep it simple – A toddler isn’t going to be a MasterChef. Some children will have a very short attention span and loose interest quickly, especially if the recipe has a lengthy preparation time. For the little ones a smoothie/juice recipe or adding toppings for a home-made pizza is a great starting point. As they become more interested and older more complex recipes can be attempted.

Meal planning- Getting your children involved in the decision making for meals will encourage them to become interested in cooking. To avoid having them request 2 minute noodles every meal, start by giving them three meal suggestions to pick from. This allows them to be involved in the process but still making sure that the options are healthy.

Another way to encourage healthy eating is to allow them to pick a specific fruit or vegetable they would like to cook with, and then help them find a suitable recipe to make with it.

Pick the right time – Make sure that when you get your child to help you in the kitchen it is not after a long day at work or school, or a time when dinner should have been served hours ago. Choose a time when time constraints and distractions are not an issue. Don’t forget that the best part of cooking is getting to eat all the yummy food, so try to have your recipe ready to eat around a regular meal or snack time.

Create a safe space- Kitchens are known to have a lot of hot, sharp, dangerous elements – so for younger children consider preparing food on your kitchen table so that they can safely kneel or sit on chairs to reach bowls/utensils and food. If heat is required, it is important to discuss with children how to safely use appliances, including cooktops and ovens. An explanation of the reasons why they must not touch is essential.

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