Playing together in the kitchen is a great fun. Yes, it is true! Are you afraid to let the child into the kitchen? Does the fear that he may harm himself stop you from spending some time together with the child in that room? I hope that after reading my article you will change your mind. Especially before the approaching Christmas, as at that time we bake and cook even more... We do not have enough time to spare for playing with the baby.
First, I will encourage you by providing a few suggestions for playing! If your baby is still very small, it is enough if you sit him somewhere close to you and keep on telling him what you are doing. Try, even amongst the hustle of intense Christmas preparations, to ensure the baby feels close to you.
When she was between 3 and 6 months, I played with my daughter, giving her to play several small bowls filled with different seeds. Pouring various products the baby develops fine motor skills. You have to keep an eye on the baby, however, to react quickly when he puts anything into his mouth. Playing this way will be a new experience for him, stimulating the sense of touch.
Another way of playing, when your baby is a little older, is copying you. Are you baking a cake? You knead, roll and the baby follows you with his eyes, interested? Make him his own dough of salt mass. Allow him to study the "dough" in any way it wants. Show him, how he can knead the mass, press various shapes on it. Make rolls and balls together. While playing, you can still prepare your cake. Then give the child plastic cake moulds and make various funny shapes together: houses, animals, toys. Talk to the child: "look, now we make a ball. Here we put this and press down..." etc. If you want, you can start this activity by preparing the salt mass together. I do it this way. The child will get dirty, but again, he will get new experience. It is important he has a chance then to study each ingredient: flour, salt, water - by touching them - and mix them together with his hands. You will finish what the baby is not able to.
When your baby is one, it is a time to stimulate his imaginations by inventing new activities you can do together in the kitchen. Do you decorate the cakes? Do that together. Sprinkle muffins with powdered sugar, coat shortbread with chocolate and decorate with titbits: desiccated coconut, almond flakes. Raisins, sugar, coatings - all these are products your baby will definitely want to try. Let him do that, but monitor the quantities. This way when decorating the cakes the baby will be occupied only with the task itself, and not with snacking.
The dessert is not decorated perfectly? It is important you did it together. The whole family will surely love it. You may also decorate together salt mass cakes made earlier by the baby. Select interesting ingredients - seeds, spices, e.g., clove. It will be a wonderful Christmas present for Granny and Granddad.
A few tips concerning safety of the child in the kitchen, that I apply:
- I hide all hazardous items: matches, cleaning agents.
- sharp cutlery and knives are for my use only. The baby gets his own plastic knives and forks, designed for children. Then we can cut together salad ingredients (a plastic knife is an excellent tool for cutting a soft egg).
- when my daughter was born, I installed locks on the cupboards in which I store things hazardous for children, not only in the kitchen, but in the whole house. I also installed such a lock on a cabinet with a dustbin.
- I bought special gas knob covers.
- all hot dishes I put on a countertop other than the one at which I play with my daughter
-hot vessels with long handles (e.g., frying pan) I put with a handle towards a wall. Then the baby will not be able to grab it.
- a place selected for playing with your baby should be away from electric equipment, cables, gas and appliances that get hot (e.g. a kettle)
Some of my colleagues installed a safety gate in the kitchen door, so the child cannot get to the kitchen alone. Then the children get in there only when one of the parents is around.
What are benefits of playing together in the kitchen? Your child explores and experiences new things. His touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing are stimulated. I have already written about the touch and the taste. Sight will be stimulated by colourful vessels. Buy plastic bowls, cutlery and cups in attractive colours for the baby. All spices and herbs are new and fascinating smells. During Christmas preparations, cake flavourings dominate. Let the baby smell various flavourings, not only those you like and find pleasant. Your baby hears clatter of cutlery or plates, and for him these are interesting sounds he cannot hear in any other room.
Most of the activities facilitate development of fine motor skills in children. When the child is older, you will teach him independence and responsible behaviour in the kitchen. By spending some time together in this attractive way you form a close bond. I wish you fantastic time in the spirit of Christmas.