Introducing Snack Preparation to Young Toddlers
Bananas Three Ways:
Camden is showing a great interest in preparing meals. Whenever I cook dinner, he stands in his learning tower and wants to help with all of the pouring and stirring. I want to encourage him to be as independent as possible, so have slowly been introducing snack preparation for the past few months.
My child loves bananas, "mananyays" as he calls them, more than any other food. He would live exclusively on bananas if we let him, so this seemed like the best place to start. I introduced the steps for preparing bananas as a snack in three different parts: learning to peel, using the banana press and learning to use a wavy chopper. Asking him to wait to eat the banana until the preparation is completed is totally impossible, so as long as he can eat a bite here and there he is able focus on the work at hand.
Peeling Banana Slices
I introduced peeling banana slices when Camden was 11 months old. To prepare the banana, I cut a slice lengthwise down the peel of an unpeeled banana and then cut the banana into 1 inch slices. That way each of the banana slices has a break in it that Camden can grab on to to start peeling. I put the banana slices on the cutting board, and then put out two separate bowls for the peels and the slices. One thing I have learned, is that it is easiest for Camden to determine which bowl is for the peel and which bowl is for the slice if they are different. Since all of the dishes that Camden uses are ceramic, I chose a glass bowl for the peels to go inane a ceramic bowl for the peeled slices.
When I introduce the activity, I show him exactly what I would like him to do using very few words. Ideally, he would peel one banana slice, set the slice down in one bowl and then put the peel in the other bowl. Most of the time though, he peels the slice, eats it and then puts the peel in the bowl. He still doesn't have enough self control to wait, but that will come with time.
Using the banana slicer
After he mastered peeling the banana slices, I introduced peeling the whole banana. I start the banana by splitting the peel into three pieces at the top. Initially I held the banana while he peeled, but since then he has figured out how to peel it with out help. I put the peeled banana on a cutting board and set out the slicer and a ceramic bowl for the finished slices.
I showed him how to use the banana slicer on one banana and then immediately let him try it one another banana. Sometimes the banana gets a bit smashed... or even eaten right off the slicer! The biggest downside I have found to using the slicer is that it is challenging for him to remove the finished slices from the slicer. To make it easier for him, I usually remove a few slices and transfer them to a bowl so that he can get his fingers around the remaining pieces in order to transfer them to the bowl himself.
Using the wavy chopper
I introduced the wavy chopper earlier this week (at 15 months) and has been a huge hit! Since I showed him how to use it, he has been asking for "mananyays" and then going to the drawer where I store the chopper to make sure I get it out for him.
Initially I was not quite sure if he was ready for it, but he has become much more coordinated with his hands recently so I decided to give it a try. The wavy chopper has a fairly sharp edge (I can easily cut an apple with it), so I stay with him while he uses it and make sure he is using it safely.
He peels the banana on his own, then I set out the chopper and a bowl for the slices. I showed him how to use the chopper with both hands, but he seems most comfortable using it with just his right hand. I hold the banana still while he chops, so that it doesn't roll around on the cutting board. Ideally, all of the slices would go into the bowl but only about half actually make it there- the rest go right into his mouth!
He is certainly getting close to being able to prepare his own snack- well at least a banana! We have a small living space, so I am still working out how and where to set up a snack prep station. How do you have snacks set up for your toddlers? I would love some inspiration!