Working with you in the kitchen will help your kids actually to become healthy eaters. Children are much less likely to reject foods that they helped make, and kids feel good about doing something “grown-up” and can share their triumphs with others.
Children of all ages can help in the kitchen. Start out by giving your child small jobs to do. As your child grows, he will be able to help with different tasks. Start all activities in the kitchen by washing your hands with your child. Here are age-appropriate activities for your child to get started helping in the kitchen.
It is important to stay safe in the kitchen. Here are basic safety rules to follow in the kitchen:
- A grown-up must be in the kitchen during all activities, including cooking and cleaning up.
- Everyone must wash their hands with soap and water before touching food. If your child has long hair, it should be tied back. Roll shirt sleeves up so they do not get wet or dirty.
- Start with a clean kitchen. Wipe down countertops and put away things that you will not need.
- Knives and sharp kitchen tools should be kept out of reach of children and away from their working space.
- Do not allow your child near a hot stove or oven. Keep pot handles pointed towards the center when they are placed on the stove.
- Read the recipe out loud to your child and work slowly, doing one job at a time.
Kitchen Activities for Children
At 2 years:
- Wipe tables
- Carry utensils to a table or countertop
- Place things in trash
- Help you read a cookbook by turning the pages
- Rinse vegetables or fruits
At 3 years:
All that a 2 year old can do, plus:
- Add ingredients to a mixing bowl
- Talk about cooking
- Scoop or mash potatoes
- Squeeze citrus fruits
- Knead and shape dough
- Name and count foods
- Help put ingredients on a pizza
At 4 years:
All that a 3 year old can do, plus:
- Set the table
- Peel hard-cooked eggs
- Peel fruits by hand, such as oranges and bananas
- Crack eggs
- Pour liquid ingredients into a bowl of dry ingredients
- Help measure dry ingredients
- Help make sandwiches and tossed salads
- Prepare fruits and vegetables without a knife (snapping beans, husking corn, tearing lettuce)
At 5 years:
All that a 4 year old can do, plus:
- Use a scrub brush to clean hard fruits and vegetables
- Use measuring cups and spoons for dry and liquid ingredients
- Stir ingredients in a bowl
- Use a dull knife to spread
- Clear the table after eating