Kids in the Kitchen
Tips on How to let Kids help you in the Kitchen
Children love being in the kitchen. As soon as my 3 year old hears me pulling out a pot he runs in to see what I am going to cook. He pulls a chair over from our table up to the counter and is ready to stir or whatever I let him help out with. Sometimes I just want to get a kitchen/cooking chore over and don’t feel like being slowed down by allowing “help” from him, but then I think that could be a real disservice I am doing to him. Once he starts to help and I see the pure joy on his face I know it is well worth it to take longer in the kitchen and probably have more of a mess to clean up. I wanted to share a list I put together of different ideas of kitchen/ cooking chores kids can do from babies to older kids. I hope this list and post can help you and your family enjoy the kitchen together. If you have other ideas, please share them! I would love to hear them. 🙂
“Your children will grow up enjoying cooking and it will hold no terror for them when they are grown if you let them share cooking chores with you.” (From Secrets to Feeding a Healthy Family)
To keep cooking interesting to your child, you need to share the cooking/ kitchen jobs. For children, the main attraction with cooking and the kitchen is being with you!
Children love being in the kitchen with you and working with food and older children can be a big help too. Here is a list I have put together, by age groups, of what kids can help or do in the kitchen.
Baby- This list is not too long, but I did these things with my 1st baby and I feel that they really increased his curiosity and love for the kitchen.
- Let them play in their highchair close by while you cook.
- Let them play with a big plastic mixing bowl and a big plastic serving/ stirring spoon (this was my 1st baby’s favorite thing, we called it a “stir-stir” he would be so content by me for awhile while I cooked dinner or cleaned.
- Let them play with measuring cups and put crackers or cheerios in them— show them how to dump them into other cups.
- Find chores that are safe and interesting— load silverware in dishwasher, dry off plastic cups or wipe off the table.
- Let them play in the sink with measuring cups and other bowls and cups and spatulas. (another one my active 3 year old can do for a long time)
- Help stir pasta noodles, cookies, a drink mix or whatever you are stirring. (Yes I let my 3 year old stir noodles by a hot stove. He probably has done this since he was 2. He was so fascinated by cooking and I couldn’t distract him that I decided to teach him that he had to be careful and it is hot. I stay close by too. It worked out really well.)
- Let them wash durable vegetables
- Help start a mixer and let them watch the food being mixed in a standing mixer. (be sure to teach them not to stick their fingers in while mixing)
- Play with dry noodles and measuring cups, a big bowl or muffin pan.
- Helping with recipes in a simple way— placing cut up veggies on a pan or in a bowl or place pizza toppings on a pizza.
- Let them play with pots and pans.
- Purchase a play toy kitchen. (After we noticed how much our first child loved the kitchen we decided to buy a toy kitchen and he loves it and now our 2nd child has learned to love playing with it)
- Let them help pick food items to go along with a meal, you give them options and let them pick– for example you could ask “should we have peas or broccoli with dinner tonight?” while you show them both options. That may help them eat better at meal time.
- Let them “help” sweep the floor. My 3 year old has loved to play with the broom, especially lately when he sees me sweeping up after my 1 year old eats (you know how messy that can get). Today he even went and got the broom before I did and started trying to clean up the mess. 🙂 (proud mama moment)
- Let them help clean up after a meal. They can clear their place and give them a dish rag to wipe down the table.
- Let them assemble a simple recipe— like a PB&J
- Have them help get out ingredients. Have them find the cans of food, or get out the flour and sugar.
- They could set the table for a meal.
- Help dry and wash dishes.
- They could use a hand mixer with help.
- Show them how to open cans
- Let them scoop cookie dough or muffin batter onto a pan.
- Help with Simple recipes like a personal pizza, quesadilla or rice crispy treats.
- They could set the timer
- With your help, use appliances..
- Give them a night a week for being “responsible” for dinner and let them plan what to eat and let them help cook it.
- Teach them how to measure out ingredients and if you are doubling a recipe, they can help you with the math involved.
- Teach them how to safely use a knife to cut food.
- Have them read the recipe as you put it together and as a bonus they can work on their reading skills.
- Have them clean up after a meal. They could clear their place and rinse off their dishes and put them in the dishwasher or wash them. They can wipe off the table and pick food off the floor or sweep.
Remember to have patience with kids in the kitchen. They will make a mess and slow you down, but regardless, make it a fun experience for them and they will learn to love to help you out in the kitchen and other areas in the home. 🙂
Have other helpful ideas how kids can help out in the kitchen?
Please share! We would love to hear from you (other moms would too).
Happy Family Time
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