How to Get Your Kids Involved in the Kitchen

Kids are natural assistants in the kitchen. They enjoy sharing the duties that put together family meals. Cooking with your kids is also a great way to help them develop healthy eating habits, build confidence and early skills of independence. Often, kids feel proud when they pitch in to prepare foods. Kitchen tasks give children a chance to measure, count and watch food change. Cooking empowers kids to make choices and decide on their own flavor creations. Most importantly, kitchen time together is special and creates closer bonds and lifetime memories.

It is never too early to introduce your child to the kitchen. From toddlers to teens, there are age-appropriate “jobs” for all. Be diligent teaching safety in the kitchen—from appliances to knives and utensils—and help your child stay safe. Here are some suitable kitchen tasks for children at different age levels. Regardless of age, all children should be under adult supervision while helping in the kitchen.

Toddlers can:

  • Pour in ingredients after you measure them or stir the mixture
  • Carry ingredients from storage site to work space
  • Decorate cookies or cupcakes
  • “Wash” dishes in a sink filled with a small amount of water and soap
  • Tear lettuce or greens; break cauliflower
  • Wipe tabletops

Preschoolers (ages 3-5 years) can: 

  • Get ingredients out of the refrigerator and cupboards
  • Stir ingredients together in a bowl
  • Pour liquids into a bowl 
  • Rinse produce under cold water
  • Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes in dough
  • Apply soft spreads
  • Put things in the trash 

Children (ages 6-8 years) can:

  • Use a butter knife to spread frosting, peanut butter or soft cheese 
  • Peel vegetables
  • Measure ingredients
  • Stir together ingredients in a bowl
  • Set the table
  • Use an egg beater

Children (ages 9-12 years) can: 

  • Begin to follow recipes 
  • Use electrical kitchen appliances such as blenders, food processors, electric mixers and microwaves 
  • Help plan the meals 
  • Open cans
  • Squeeze garlic from a garlic press and use a grater to shred cheese and vegetables
  • Turn stove burners on and off and select oven temperature when an adult is present

Children (ages 13 years and older) can:

  • Operate the stovetop
  • Drain cooked pasta into a colander
  • Remove a tray of cookies from the oven
  • Follow a recipe with little assistance

So what are you waiting for? Start now to develop a love of cooking and foods in your children. Invite them into the kitchen with you and get set for a lifetime of memories and fun!

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