Get your little helpers to try different kitchen tasks for preparing meals, setting the table and more. Read on for more details on cooking with kids.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides recommendations to guide kids of all age levels on how to help in the kitchen. As a reminder, ensure everyone’s safety in the kitchen—in particular, ensure that your little one isn’t near or around hot surfaces or substances, is clear of objects that could fall, and that all handles that little hands could grab are out of reach.
You can set up the littlest kitchen helpers in a designated area, like the kitchen table, to keep them out of the path of you carrying anything hot, sharp or heavy.
Here are a few other guidelines.
Ages 3 to 5
These toddlers and little kids need close supervision in the kitchen. That doesn’t mean they can’t help! They can safely use cookie cutters, rinse produce in a bowl, mix simple ingredients, and help keep kitchen surfaces tidy. Don’t forget those other important tasks—like playing the drums on pots and pans with wooden spoons! Any time together in the kitchen can be fun.
Ages 6 to 7
These kids can start practicing certain skills, including cracking eggs, carefully peeling veggies with a peeler, shucking corn and using blunt scissors to cut fresh herbs. They can help stir in ingredients and prep salads. Help them set the table before dinner and show them the appropriate place for silverware and napkins.
Ages 8 to 9
Your kids may be able to incorporate new cooking abilities during this time, including measuring ingredients, using a can opener, beating eggs, or juicing citrus. You’ll be the best judge of what your child is ready to handle at this phase. He or she may be interested in meal planning and looking up recipes to try.
Ages 10 to 12
These kids can handle more responsibilities, including reading recipes, planning meals and learning about different ingredients. Give them more tasks, including boiling pasta and veggies, simmering sauces and other items on the stove, and chopping veggies. Teach them how to properly work around hot surfaces, including the stove and oven.
Don’t forget! All kids need supervision in the kitchen, especially around sharp knives, heavy objects and potentially dangerous heat sources. Make sure kids wash hands thoroughly before working with food, and teach them the importance of maintaining a clean workspace.