There are countless reasons not to have your baby anywhere near you when you are cooking. Safety, efficiency, and tidiness are among them. These are all valid concerns that can be addressed with adequate preparation and a little bit of patience.

But why should you even bother when it’s so much easier to put up the baby gate or strap the kid into a high chair? Well, there are many incentives to including your little one in your culinary adventures. Obviously, if you enjoy your time in the kitchen, you will pass that on. Time spent together in the kitchen teaches safety skills, math skills, nutrition, reading skills, and following directions.

This will not happen immediately. Most of it will not even happen quickly. But it will happen, if you are persistent, and you will be so glad you kept your baby nearby when you were cooking.

How Do You Cook With Baby?

While your little bundle of joy is still a newborn, you can get both of you used to being together in the kitchen by parking baby in a swing or bouncer on the floor in an out of the way spot. Talk to him, explaining what you are doing and why.

When baby is able to hold her head up on her own, you can hold her on your hip while you cook, at least for some steps, like measuring and mixing. Whenever you are using a knife or handling heat (taking things in and out of the oven, frying bacon) you should remember to put baby back in the swing, bouncer, or excersaucer. Continue to converse with your little one about all of the culinary goings on, and share little bites when you can. By including your little one in the process behind making meals, and by offering tastes of lots of different foods you will raise and adventurous eater.

When the baby is a little older, preferably able to stand on his own, you can stand him on a chair at the counter to watch you. He’ll get a kick out of putting ingredients in the bowl, learning how to

mix, and maybe even holding on to the hand mixer as you use it. Remember to never leave baby standing on a chair or stepstool alone, and don’t leave kitchen appliances where baby can reach them. They love those buttons! It’s a good idea to have several sets of measuring cups and spoons so that you have spares for your little one to imitate you with.

Cooking with your little one can lead to a lifetime of shared memories, and starting when they’re young helps you both learn the ins and outs of sharing the kitchen with each other. I hope you try cooking with your baby; it gets even more fun as they get older!