Thanks to Kohls and Fitfluential for sponsoring this post.
One of the things I’m most excited about as Squish gets older is the fact that he’ll soon be able to start helping me in the kitchen! I used to love helping my mom in the kitchen and still remember the recipe my sister and I made every time we were in charge of making dinner (Tuna Wiggle).
Getting kids into the kitchen is a great way to teach them about food and encourage them to try new foods. It can also help them with their hand-eye coordination and give them a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. As they get older they can work on their math and reading skills as well by following recipes.
I reached out to some of my mom friends to ask them how their kids help them in the kitchen. It made my heart happy to see how many responses I got. Hopefully this will give you some ideas of different tasks you can give your kiddos.
Here’s what my fellow moms had to say. If they’re bloggers – I’ve linked to their blogs so you can go check them out!
I love that my kids show such interest in the kitchen. It’s so true that the more they help prepare foods, the more likely they are to eat them and feel empowered! And of course, it takes more time with the kids helping, but the skills they are learning are so important.
Get these bowls with non-skid bottoms:
OXO Good Grips Mixing Bowls
Joey’s favorite part about being in the kitchen with me is seeing the before and after of something I cook. I’m guessing it’s similar to cause and effect. Here’s what something looks like before it goes into the oven or stove or grill, and here’s the final, cooked product. I also let him touch the different foods before and after and of course, we talk about food colors and shapes too! He’s almost two… I’m hoping he can start helping me prep in a few months instead of just poke at the food 😉
Perfect for kid-sized food:
Mini Muffin Tin
I use the learning tower for any cooking activity as well as where Declan can have his snack and come and go as he pleases to eat it. He just leaves it there and then I don’t have to get him in and out of the high chair. I let him do pouring, stirring, and measuring. Then with things like pancakes he counts as we pour and helps me decide when to flip. He’s always very proud of himself! He has a “special” pig spatula he uses for all our cooking, and we use a non-skid mixing bowl so the bowl doesn’t turn as he is mixing. He really enjoys it! Give them their own special kitchen tools:
Most of the time my boys would rather be playing in the dirt but when they do want to help I try and incorporate them (even though cooking is often my “quiet” time) Ira is showing more interest in helping than Theo did so I’m looking forward to seeing how his desire to cook pans out as he ages!
Ellie loves to help crack eggs, shuck corn, and peel carrots. These are both tasks she started helping me do at age 3. I found that with the corn and the carrots, she will often start eating the food raw as soon as she’s finished with her job.
Cooking with kids isn’t neat, tidy, efficient or particularly productive. But boy do they love it! And I’ve found it to be the best way to get kids interested in trying new foods and eating healthy. It’s also a great time to talk about where food comes from and give them a sense of ownership in an important household duty. I try to involve my daughter in the kitchen on weekends and times when I am not stressed about getting a meal on the table quickly – that makes it more fun for both of us! Give them a boost to the counter:
High Rise Step Stool
My four year old Hudson and I love cooking together! He loves to smell spices and ingredients and taste test them before we add them to a dish. He measures, pours, stirs and even cuts soften ingredients. I often give him his own pot (off the flame) to use to make his own dish with the ingredients on hand. His latest obsession is balling melon and grating cheese with the microplane. True story: Hudson and I were “cooking” dinner. He has his own pot of goodies into which he added raw potatoes, navy beans, an ENTIRE jar of fennel seeds plus some salt and pepper to season it, of course. He proudly stirred it around and went in for a HUGE bite. I (in disgust) almost stopped him. I paused and let him have his taste. His reply…”Mmmmm, Yummy”. He went back for seconds.
My kids are 2 and 4. I let them help measure and pour ingredients. They are so proud when it all comes together. I also let them help with assembly if it’s not too messy.
My favorite invention is “worms” with the garlic press- avocados work great, as do bananas. Beans are fun for them to squish too and cheap. Great for any age- especially 2 on, but even at almost 4, my daughter loves it. She also pulls leaves off of kale or herbs, pushed the salad spinner and I let her mix her own ingredients, then we bake whatever she creates. Lots of fun!
Make worms with this Garlic Press
My two granddaughters love to help me cook. They measure and stir and help decorate. Great memories and fun.
I nanny a 7 year old and she helps cut things with a butter knife that we call a “beginner’s knife”. Things like broccoli, cucumber, banana, anything soft she is able to help cut. She makes guacamole ALL on her own (I just peel and cut the avocado for her), she tears the lettuce for salads and I also call her my “spice girl” because she seasons almost every dish we make. If something needs exact measures, she holds the measuring spoon/cup and I pour the ingredient into the measuring spoon/cup and she dumps it in the bowl.
I’ve written several articles about the value of getting kids in the kitchen. Check out Kids In the Kitchen – It’s Worth the Mess & Building Kitchen Confidence In Kids.
My two-yr-old keeps his step stool by the counter and mixes, dumps pre-measured ingredients, cracks eggs, puts veggies in the food processor and cranks the pasta maker. He especially likes prepping his own breakfast– scooping out oatmeal or cracking and stirring eggs.
Cora (2) helps stir things, pulls spinach off the stem to add to things, and helps put things like shredded cheese or cut up fruit into bowls. I also usually have some uncooked dry beans or pasta for her to scoop and play with to keep her occupied while I do things she can’t help with.
My teenage son enjoys doing the chopping & baking. Soon I will teach him how to grill. My kids also know how to make their own eggs & several go-to simple meals.
Not a parent, but as a teacher, we include cooking as part of our curriculum (it’s great for math, teamwork, and to promote healthy eating and trying new foods). Tasks vary, but generally kids help measure, pour, stir/mix (we have a mixing song that we sing so everyone gets a turn). There are kid-safe knives that they use sometimes with 1:1 supervision. They also do all the spreading, juicing/squeezing, tearing and mashing (e.g., we made strawberry lemonade and the kids each got a Ziploc baggie with strawberries in it and they went to town pounding and mashing until it was pureed).
As you can see, there are tons of ways to get kids into the kitchen. They won’t all enjoy it, but for those that do, it’s the perfect balance of fun, learning and letting their imagination run wild!
PS. Squish is for sure getting a play kitchen like this one soon. Maybe for Christmas?!
Step 2 Lifestyle Custom Kitchen
Now it’s your turn:
Do your kids help you in the kitchen? What are their favorite ways to help?
If not, I challenge you to #makeyourmove and invite them to help you this week!
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Kohl’s.
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