Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cooking with Mom

Babies love to imitate those around them, and Erik is no exception. He wants to be where I am, and doing whatever it is that I am doing. The other day when I was cooking dinner, he really wanted to be involved, and was really getting in the way. Then I decided, why not let him join in? I put him in his high chair in the kitchen near where I was working and gave him a few items to keep him busy. 
 Any time I needed to stir something I'd hand him a stirring spoon and let him have a go at it (I had one spoon for him to stir with and a different one for him to play with. When we were done stirring I'd take away the used spoon and give him the clean one to play with until it was time to stir again).
 Any time I was using an ingredient that was safe for him to explore, I'd give him a small amount and let him feel it and taste it while I worked. He thought this was great, at least until he had a small amount of flour in his measuring cup and tried to drink it. He breathed out through his nose and the flour went all over his face and into his eyes. Not quite what he had in mind.
Since then, I've tried to help him get more involved in the cooking process. Whenever I'm peeling potatoes or carrots I peel them into a bowl on the floor and let him play with the peelings as I work. He loves exploring their slipperiness! I try to give him tastes of things when the ingredients are safe (or cool) enough to eat (obviously no raw eggs or anything like that!) so he can explore new tastes and textures. And then there's always his favorite activity, he thinks it is his right and responsibility to stir anything in the kitchen that needs stirring. If he catches me stirring something without his help then oh boy am I in trouble!
Now there are a few draw backs to this type of thing. When you've got a toddler for a sous chef things can get a little bit messy. Your cooking technique is not going to be at its best. You will be a bit distracted and can't count on things coming out exactly like they should (I tend to forget or skip ingredients when I cook distracted so I never know what's going to happen).
BUT, there are some major benefits to this as well, such as: building fine motor skills hand-eye coordination and awareness of spatial relations through manipulating tools and ingredients, learning new words as you tell baby what it is he's tasting or holding, building self worth as you show your child that you want him by your side and trust him to help you with your work, increasing sensory awareness through new tastes smells and textures, and teaching social interaction as the two of you work together.

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