Growing up, the first meal I cooked was when I was about 12 years old. As I started adulting, I’ve realised cooking is a major life-skill. I promised myself that I wouldn’t ever say no if V wanted to help out in the kitchen as a child.
I could never cook when she was asleep, and I remember the early days when I would wear her in my sling and continue my chores. At about 9 months she gravitated towards the kitchen on her own. I think the shiny, steel vessels or different vegetables drew her.
At about 9 months she wanted “work” and set about sorting the onions from the garlic. By one year she was comfortably peeling the skin off onions and mashing potatoes, gleefully.
With Opos cooking, cooking together has just become very natural.
There are many wonderful things a toddler learns while cooking. Listing some of them here.
1. Sensory stimuli – The sight of many brightly colored foods, the smells of the masalas, the different textures and tastes are learning experiences.
2. Motor skills– A lot of prep and actua tasks in the kitchen require hand-eye coordination and perfection of spatial skills.
3. Math and language- Many times, measurement is required which again helps counting skills. It leads to generation and repetition of a lot of words as well, developing speech.
4. Holistic learning – Cooking together has led us to talk about where vegetables come from, why they have seeds, shapes of chapatis, grains vs vegetables, the use of fire, etc.
It is the natural state of the child to want to imitate adults, and by prohibiting them, we are only frustrating the child. Here is a list of simple kitchen and related tasks, V has been helping us in.
– Measuring out water/ grains
– Layering the cooker
– Peeling potatoes
-Chopping paneer, bread, cheese, etc (use a butter-knife first)
– Making juice using fruit-squeezers
– Segregating garbage
– Laying the table
– Filling water bottles and jugs
-Counting whistles on the cooker
– Cleaning the kitchen counter after they are done
Why OPOS for toddlers?
Opos or One Pot One Shot is a scientific and sustainable way of cooking all cuisines using a pressure cooker and techniques. Here is why it was most suitable for V.
– Layering the cooker, adding the weight, measuring ingredients, everything is done before the gas is switched on, making it very safe.
– It teaches logical thinking and reasoning, but most importantly, that cooking can be fun and easy.
– It retains the original flavours of the vegetables, and I’ve never had to deal with a fussy eater. She won’t reject something she helped cook.
Cooking together is a lot of fun, and I urge all parents to try it out. However, always use a step stool or a chair for the child. Also, I cannot reiterate this enough- constant vigilance while the flame is on or a butter knife is in the toddler’s hands. It takes a little patience, but the rewards are priceless. Our weekly grocery store visits are an adventure now too, as V gets to pick things off her list and connect it to the dishes we would make the coming week. Most importantly, the independence and confidence a toddler feels, is brilliant.
To conclude, why give them fake or toy kitchen sets, when we can give them the real deal?