Thinking of getting your kids started in the kitchen? Children can begin helping in the kitchen as early as age two, and before this, can be worn in a sling when preparing cold foods or can watch from a highchair. Getting children in the kitchen as early as possible can have major benefits for both kids and their families. Not only do children learn food skills, but they can also learn what it means to eat healthy and how to put together a balanced meal. For picky eaters, cooking encourages children to try new foods. For the youngest kids, helping in the kitchen develops fine motor skills, and helps with learning math and reading. It can be messy, but with some patience, letting your kid chef help you cook can help your child grow and spend quality time with family.
How Can my Child Help?
The following list includes ways that your child can help cook in the kitchen based on their age. Children can continue to use and build on each skill. Some children may be able to complete more mature tasks while others may be unable to complete the suggested tasks for their age group. Do not be concerned as this list is only a guide and kids develop skills at different rates. Always use your own judgement when deciding what tasks your child can safely manage.
2-3 Years of Age
At this age, children can be eager to help and see what you are doing in the kitchen. These kids are developing their fine motor skills and require lots of supervision. Let them explore sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound. Children 2-3 can:
3-4 Years of Age
Children 3-4 years-old are continuing to develop their fine motor skills but can complete slightly more detailed tasks. Children 3-4 can:
4-6 Years of Age
Children 4-6 years-old can start to get picky and helping cook their meals may encourage them to try it. These kids are ready to use more tools in the kitchen. Children 4-6 can:
6-8 Years of Age
Children 6-8 years-old can start following the steps to simple recipes and can use some basic appliances with supervision. Kids 6-8 can:
8-11 Years of Age
Children 8-11 years-old are more coordinated and independent. These kids do not need as much supervision and are able to understand how to safely use appliances. Kids 8-11 can:
Kid-Friendly Kitchen Tools
Letting your kids use kitchen tools can be scary at first. It is important to teach children how to properly use kitchen tools and when to be cautious. Kid-friendly kitchen tool swaps can better fit into small hands or make cooking easier for kids. Some kitchen tools you may want to try are:
Tips to Get Kids Engaged
Some children may have no interest in cooking at all. Have patience and always celebrate their accomplishments and thank them for their help when they do get involved. Try your best not to fix what they do for example, not evenly spreading out pizza toppings or sauces, as this can be discouraging. Always taste what you make together and talk about the flavours, textures, and colours of the food. Some great ways to encourage children to get involved include starting an herb or vegetable garden together and allowing kids to choose recipes that they would like to try making and eating. Allow kids to play with their food and make their dishes into fun shapes and animals with lots of colour. Overall, have fun and allow your kids to make a mess and explore!
Not sure where to get started? Click here to book a virtual cooking class with our registered dietitian and chef for your kids or the family!