Before becoming a mom, my happy place was my kitchen. I eagerly awaited the delivery of Southern Living each month so I could dig into the food section and select tasty recipes to try for family meals or upcoming social events. My husband, Brian, and I both enjoy trying new foods – I’d test the recipes and he’d taste the food. We spent a lot of energy making the kitchen the heart of our home.
After my daughter, Cate, was born, I was really challenged to find the time to balance my new responsibilities as a mom with enjoying the things I have always loved. While I maintain this is normal for any new mom, I was taken by surprise at how difficult it was for me to do something as simple as planning a meal. Thankfully, with a little encouragement from my husband and his “remember when you used to make this?” comments, I began to see the kitchen as the perfect place to spend quality time with Cate. One year later, I am not nearly as adventurous in the dinner recipes I prepare – especially on busy weeknights; however, by purposefully making our kitchen child-friendly, I have found better balance and renewed enjoyment in preparing healthy family meals.
When Cate was an infant, someone advised me that the best way to build a baby’s vocabulary is by talking to her. So before Cate was able to sit up, I would place her in her rocker and talk her through the recipe I was preparing, sharing details about the different foods and equipment I was using. Yes, you may call me silly, but I literally pretended I was on Food Network with Cate as my audience!
As she grew stronger and was able to sit up, I would place Cate in her high chair and let her “help” me by playing with wooden spoons. We also began encouraging her to try new foods by giving her different ingredients to feel, smell and taste. This was just as much fun for me and Brian as it was for Cate, because it was very entertaining to watch her experience something for the first time. One of my favorite memories to this day is the night I gave her a piece of red bell pepper for the first time. She loved it!
Now that Cate is a very active toddler, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen engaged in different sensory activities. I recently tested a simple edible finger paint recipe that was a lot of fun for both of us! I prepared the paint while Cate napped, and it was cool enough for her to play with by the time she got up. I also cut open a paper grocery bag to cover the table where she painted to make clean-up easier. As you can see in the photos, Cate preferred using paint brushes over her fingers! Check out the recipe below to try this yourself.
Edible Homemade Finger Paint Recipe (from Momtastic)
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups water
- Food coloring (I used four colors)
- Plastic cups
In a medium saucepan, combine flour, sugar and salt; add in cold water and whisk until smooth. Cook on medium-high heat while whisking constantly until mixture thickens, about 10-15 minutes. Divide evenly among plastic cups and add 1-2 drops of food coloring in each cup.
Tip: I mixed each paint color in a reusable storage bowl. When Cate was done painting, I covered the paints with lids and was able to re-use them for the next day or two.