Do you have a toddler or infant at home who loves to be around the kitchen and help out? Consider yourself lucky, because you might just have the cutest sous chef ever. Make the most of your time together in the kitchen by knowing what tasks to give your child and the best time assign those tasks.
Tips to Get Your Kids to Help in the Kitchen
While some kids are keen to enter the kitchen at a very young age to help with prepping, cooking and cleaning, there are others who prefer other activities. If your kids fall into the former category, you have nothing to worry about. The latter group might need some prodding and you could experiment with the following tips to get your kids to help in the kitchen:
Get them involved outside the kitchen:
Start by involving your kids in cooking-related tasks outside the kitchen, like picking out fresh produce at a farmers’ market and shopping for groceries. Another fun way would be to grow your own vegetables. This introduction could peak their interest in learning how these raw ingredients transform into their favorite dishes.
Show them how to prep the food:
Having picked out the ingredients themselves, the kids might be more interested in learning how to clean, prep and cook the ingredients to make their favorite dishes.
Ask for their opinion:
As you cook a kid-friendly recipe meal, ask your kid(s) to taste the food and check for salt and/or spice levels or the doneness of their favorite pasta. This will help them understand flavors and concepts like cooking pasta to al dente.
Have them help with clean up:
Once the shopping, prepping and cooking are done, make sure you also teach the children to clean up after themselves.
Age-Appropriate Kitchen Tasks
Professional chefs and home cooks alike believe that no child is too old or too young to enter the kitchen. The more interest the child shows, the faster you can get them involved. But, if you are worried about the age-appropriateness of various kitchen tasks, here is a rough categorization:
6 months-2 years:
Babies start to observe and learn when they are around 6 months old and having them sit on a high chair or a bouncer in the kitchen will make it easier for you to keep an eye on them and for them to observe you.
Some toddlers might be faster than others when it comes to basic skills like walking and talking. Similarly, though they might need multiple instructions. Some children might be able to complete simple tasks like picking herbs off their stems, rinsing fruits, sprinkling salt or seasonings onto food, tearing up greens for a salad and more.
Make the kitchen more accessible for your pre-schooler by placing pots and pans at a lower height and by arranging key ingredients at eye level. At this age, you could have your child crack eggs, spread peanut butter and jelly on their sandwiches, peel a boiled egg and even cut bananas and other soft foods with a plastic knife.
Children who start early will be pros by the time they enter grade school and might be able to do more complicated tasks like reading out recipes, prepping for a simple pasta dish, using a paring knife, grating cheese, pouring batter into a cake or muffin tray and slicing bread.
By this age, many children might be ready to literally face the heat — by cooking on the stovetop. Start with simple tasks like boiling eggs or cooking pasta and gradually move on to more complicated dishes.
Don’t forget to:
- Teach the kids to turn the stove on and off correctly
- Teach them kitchen safety tips
- Tell them how to position pots and pans the right way
- Have them use oven mitts or gloves to avoid burns
- Let them try big knives on soft foods like butter or bananas until they learn how to use it well
Young minds are easy to mold and an early introduction to home cooking and meals shared around the family table might help children understand the importance of healthy cooking and the sharing of food with family and friends.
How to get your kids cooking. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/814664/10-tips-for-getting-your-kids-in-the-kitchen-1
Bold, C. (2015, August 13). How Young Kids Can Help in the Kitchen: A List of Activities by Age. Retrieved from https://www.thekitchn.com/how-young-kids-can-help-in-the-kitchen-a-list-of-activities-by-age-222692
Workman, K. (2018, August 28). When should kids start helping in the kitchen? Now is good. Retrieved from https://www.apnews.com/e709d5a7c0d74bbab798b20da64c31d1/When-should-kids-start-helping-in-the-kitchen?-Now-is-good