Our kitchen is a gathering place. It’s where we spend a lot of time together as a family, it’s the command center for our home, and to be honest it’s my favorite room — and not just because it’s where the coffee lives. Because I do love cooking and baking so much, whether I’m creating a recipe for my website, experimenting with a new ingredient, or just whipping up something for dinner, I always encourage my children to help.
I have a feeling that one of the reasons I love my kids in the kitchen so much is because my childhood is packed with memories of baking at my grandmother’s side, waiting for the egg timer to go off so we could eat cookies together. I loved watching her expertly create recipes and everything always smelled amazing!
With my own children, I try to involve them in the kitchen as much as possible. We live in a time when a child’s view of food in their younger years really plays into their relationship with food as they grow older. I want my boys to have a positive relationship with food and with cooking by equipping them with as much knowledge as possible before they are off on their own. While I’m sure there will be ramen noodles in their future college experiences, I’d like them both to leave our home in the future, knowing how to cook and cook well!
I believe that there’s no age too young or old to get your kids involved in the kitchen. Here are a few ways that you can test out today!
Wearing baby in a wrap or carrier (back carries only) is not only convenient for you when you’re prepping and cooking away, but it helps familiarize baby with the sights, sounds, and smells of the kitchen!
Get Kids In On The Action
A chair turned backwards (with the back facing the counter) makes a great, stable standing structure for kids to access the kitchen counter. You can also buy learning stands made specifically for the purpose which offer the safety of rails on all sides. Kids love being right in the thick of the action!
Kitchen tools that are slightly smaller in size can help children to master those particular coordination skills without having to make up for the larger size of our everyday tools. Other tools that are simple for smaller hands are mixing spoons, vegetable peelers, and crinkle cutters with a plastic handle. Encourage children to mimic your actions as you show them how to use each tool safety and effectively.
If your child is of reading age, have them read each ingredient while adding the to the countertop, or having them gather up the ingredient as you read them aloud. Have kids help to measure out each ingredient before adding it to the recipe — there are so many hidden math lessons in baking! I also like to have my youngest pick out recipes he’d like to try.
Kids love buttons. Kids of ALL ages! You can help even toddler to learn how to set a timer, push buttons on a microwave, or turn the oven knob to the right dial. Of course, add in a lesson about how these are only things done with a parent or guardian.
Cooking and baking are just more fun with aprons! Kids start to take their cooking time quite seriously once an apron is tied around their waste. They all love to have job to help out with in the kitchen.
For school aged children, and even some younger, you can help them to feel even more comfortable in the kitchen by letting them prepare some simple meals all on their own. Simple as in cereal with milk, a bowl of grapes, or a peanut butter sandwich. The proud look on their face when they have created their very own meal is amazing!
Another benefit to involving children in the kitchen is that I’ve found it helps my youngest, who can be a bit picky about foods, to have the courage to try new foods and dishes that he’s been unsure of in the past. By washing, chopping, stirring, and being involved in the entire process from fridge to feast, I think that children gather a whole new ownership over their food, and are therefore more eager to gobble it up!
I hope you have a wonderful time bringing your kids into the kitchen. You’re giving them a gift they’ll use their entire lives!