Kids in the Kitchen

Since we are a team and life is a classroom you will often find my little ones helping me in the kitchen. Working together also makes cooking fun, well usually. While I would also like to say it improves the eating habits of my children, I am not so sure. I have 2 very picky eaters–they only eat bread and dessert. Maybe their eating preferences would be even worse if they were not helping me and experiencing all this culinary excitement, maybe they would cut out the bread and just go to straight desserts?? Who knows.

cooking in the kitchen
My daughter rolling out dough at age 4

Either way, they love helping and I think it is great experience for them and quality time for us (plus if they are with me helping, they aren’t making a mess while I work). My children usually joined me in the kitchen around 18 months. They would get a tall step stool and help me dump ingredients into a mixing bowl, occasionally I would let them stir, but that didn’t usually work out too well until they were almost 2 or older.

using the stepstool
My 18 month old on his step stool, ready to help

Whenever I am in the kitchen cooking I will hear stools and chairs being pushed up next to where I am. There is joy found in the kitchen when we work together. Start small and progress from there; as your children show maturity you can increase their responsibilities. Here is a summary of what my children help with when we cook:

18 Months:

  • dumps and pour in ingredients with assistance
  • places items on top of pizza crust (may sample some!)
  • can have a piece of dough to play with when shaping dough
  • count with your child as you dump cups of flour or other items

2-4 years:

  • starts counting on their own when dumping ingredients
  • as they show maturity can dump their own ingredients without assistance
  • can tear lettuce for a salad
  • can chop ingredients with a dull knife (banana, avocado etc.)
  • stirs food (not on stove)

4-6 years:

  • crack and whisk eggs
  • chop soft ingredients with a sharp knife (i.e. tomatoes, strawberries)
  • stir and brown ingredients on the stove (go over ALL safety instructions and stay close by)
  • measure and dump ingredients when baking or prepping food
  • roll out Crusts
  • shape rolls and cookies

As my daughter neared 5 I also had her start helping me plan out the meals. We checked out one of the DK Children’s Cookbooks from the library and marked the meals she wanted to make. I then worked those meals into the week’s menu. We have tried several different children’s cookbooks, the DK Children’s cookbooks are my favorite. They have great pictures showing the instructions and healthy easy meals.

My children have shown pride and happiness when they get to tell daddy they helped make dinner!