Hungry for fun and knowledge? Take your first steps in the kitchen!

How nice to imitate what grownups do! Mom and dad are like two superheroes capable of doing everything quickly and well. It is a joy to watch them as they move around the kitchen between the pantry and the stove: they rinse, dry, slice, and chop coloured ingredients. They fill pots with water, boil spaghetti while heating tomato sauce, bake the fish with potatoes, arrange the fresh vegetables in the salad bowl.

But how do they do it all? Well, they have acquired lots of experience. And it is never too early to start, especially when there is interest, passion, and curiosity. The world of cooking is stimulating, creative, and fun: it is not surprising that children want to test themselves with pans and stoves, play with pizza dough, make cookies and meatballs, manipulate and transform the food with you.

Involving the little ones in cooking activities is an excellent idea to lay the foundations for a good relationship with food and stimulate the early development of many skills. In addition, allowing children to manipulate food and involve them in preparing many delicious recipes is a great way to fuel an interest in fruit, vegetables, pasta, and many other ingredients. And toy kitchens are the best ally you can have by your side.

Hape has always paid lots of attention to the world of food and cuisine. The Kitchen & Food toy line is constantly expanding and is full of proposals that appeal to children of all ages. Today we want to present you the Toddler Kitchen Set, a fun wooden stove with many accessories dedicated to the little ones. It will also give us a chance to talk about the importance of cooking activities in children’s development.

Children development: what happens around the age of 18 months

At around 18 months, our children begin to want more independence in the little everyday things like eating baby food, brushing their teeth, and putting on clothes. Usually, they have already learned to walk. Many start to run and explore every corner of the house – including cabinets and appliances. The most dynamic try to climb on the furniture, enjoy hiding in small spaces, refuse help in climbing and descending stairs.

At this age, they begin to know more and more words and express themselves more articulately and effectively, thanks to the richer vocabulary. Likewise, the range of emotions they experience also widens: anger, frustration, jealousy, excitement, gratitude, happiness, sadness, and love begin to affect their mood. Often, these emotions come in the form of tantrums, tears, and pouting, but also a sudden desire for kisses, hugs, and laughter.

As you know, play performs many crucial functions in the development of our children. Not only is it a protected situation where they can learn and experiment, but it is also a funnel in which to channel and express emotions. Pretend games involving cooking activities bring out creativity and problem-solving skills, stimulating cognitive development and language skills.

Toddlers Kitchen Set: when children are hungry for fun and knowledge

Seemingly simple, the Toddler Kitchen Set offers many stimuli to our children. The chubby shapes and bright colours will immediately capture the attention of the little ones who will not be able to resist the temptation to turn the knobs. And… surprise: when you rotate them, you will hear clicking sounds that will make the cooking experience even more realistic!

Realistic and safe because all the elements have passed the rigorous quality tests. To complete the compact and portable wooden stove, you will find a pan and a pot with a lid, plus a spoon and a spatula. The rounded shapes and smooth surfaces are suitable for small hands. All the pieces are big, sturdy, and pot-bellied: there is no risk that children can lose them or swallow small parts. In addition, the pot-bellied and “cartoonish” forms immediately appeal to one another.

Personalize and enrich the kitchen of your junior Masterchef

A single set contains everything you need to pretend to cook delicious pasta, a healthy soup, an omelet, or whatever the little chef’s imagination suggests. If you want, however, you can complement the tools with ingredients. All Hape kitchen sets are compatible, so you can add realism and excitement to the play experience by integrating your child’s favourite foods. Meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables will add colour and fun to your children’s recipes!

Take a look at the Toddler Fruit Basket, with its vivacious and fluffy fruits to be cut and reassembled into delicious fruit salads. Make your junior Masterchef’s play experience even more colourful and creative with the Toddler Vegetable Basket: you know what fun it is to browse the cabbage, peel the peas from the pod, cut carrots, and eggplants with a (toy) knife with a large wooden handle. And to complete your child’s diet with the right amount of carbohydrates, here is also the Toddler Bread Basket: baguettes, croissants, cakes, and biscuits to satisfy the desire for good things and stimulate the appetite!

Sturdy but light and compact, the Toddler Kitchen Set is ideal for entertaining children on the go, at grandparents’ or their friends’. And once the game is over, put the pan and pot in the proper space behind the stove. Your child will also have the opportunity to learn the importance of order, laying the foundation for acquiring good habits.

Learning by cooking: the importance of cooking games

All pretend games – and especially those involving cooking activities – support the development of children since 18 months of age (but sometimes even earlier). Pretending to cook has many notable benefits in the context of your child’s mental, physical, and behavioural development: let’s see the main ones.

Cooking games improve dexterity and fine motor skills

Grasping, measuring, sieving, pouring, adding, stacking, positioning: all these operations involve the hands and upper limbs. In other words, when you cook (or pretend to cook in a toy kitchen), you have to perform many actions that require a wide range of hand and tactile skills. This way, cooking games stimulate the development of fine motor skills.

Pretending to cook improves the relationship with food

On the one hand, to prepare and eat food, children learn to use utensils. On the other hand, a delicious meal is the best reward after so much effort to prepare it. Even if it is just imaginary food, thinking about how to put the ingredients together will stimulate your child’s appetite, curiosity for what is on the plate, and desire to sit at the table.

Introduce numbers and reading through recipes

To prepare a meal, you have to follow codified procedures, respect the doses, weigh and measure the ingredients. Like games, you have to follow the rules: children sense this just by watching you leaf through a cookbook or an app. After all, a recipe is nothing more than a codified procedure: it explains how to do something in well-ordered sentences. The doses and times are all expressed in numbers. All this knowledge will be useful in every aspect of life. So, cooking games can be a fun way to become familiar with the skills of reading, counting, and math.

Cooking means following the rules and having patience

The bread and pizza dough must have time to rise, while the pastry must rest, the cheesecake must harden in the fridge. And then every food has its cooking times. You can’t rush a cook, and your child can learn it by cooking with you.

Rules are important but leave room for creativity

Of course, there is a codified procedure to make meatballs, cakes, or biscuits. But we can replace chocolate chips with walnuts or white flour with wholemeal flour: variations on the theme are a great way to introduce creativity while respecting the rules. Ask your children to help you prepare meatballs and cookies and let them have fun experimenting, smelling different scents and textures, imagining how to make their favourite dessert even better. In this way, they will have the opportunity to express their creativity, and cooking will become even more fun and rewarding!

A child-friendly cooker. The Kids Cooking Set is the ideal gift to entertain your little ones on the go or keep them busy while you prepare dinner, letting them pretend to cook with you. As always, Hape entertainment brings multiple benefits to children’s development: fine motor skills, organizational skills, language, emotionality, imagination, patience, and so much more.

And for older children, Hape has designed a complete line of toy kitchens to grow with them, such as the Kitchen with Lights and Sounds, full of stimuli for children aged 3 and up.