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Cooking with your Kid in the Kitchen

I have received several emails asking “When can I start to get my child involved in the kitchen?”

My answer? As soon as they start to show interest.

M has watched me cook in the kitchen since she was born and kid’s naturally want to do what their parents do. I grew up cooking with my mother and wanted M to have that same bonding experience. Children also feel like they are being helpful while contributing to the family. When M started to become more active, Β she showed more and more interest in the kitchen.

As soon as she started crawling she wanted to be in the kitchen with me. To make her feel like she was helping, I would give her a wooden spoon and a non-breakable bowl to play with. This phase lasted for a while.

The older she got, the more involved she wanted to be.

The number one thing I have always taught her was safety. The oven is “hot” so she knows not to touch it, and all sharp objects such as knives are beyond her reach.

At about 14 months of age, the bowl and spoon lost it’s excitement. I slowly included her in more meal preparation. If I needed a pinch of salt, I would let her sprinkle the salt or spices. She really loved doing this.

Now she helps by stirring, scooping, rolling dough, and even cleaning the counters. She also enjoys setting the table by putting a napkin at each place setting.

Here are some tips I use when it comes to kid’s & cooking:

  • Make sure all hair is pulled back
  • Always have them wash their hand before, during (if needed), and after cooking.
  • Keep all sharp objects out of reach.
  • When cooking with your child, choose a time in the day where you won’t be rushed. Mid-morning or early afternoon works well for us.
  • Keep kid friendly utensils handy such as wooden spoons, non-breakable bowls, measuring cups, cookie cutters, and a wire whisk.

Here are 10 easy ways to include kid’s in the kitchen (via

  • Set the table
  • Wash fruits and vegetables
  • Take foods out of the refrigerator or pantry
  • Set the timer and give updates on how much time is left
  • Measure ingredients
  • Stir ingredients in a bowl
  • Read the recipe
  • Spread or layer ingredients in a pan before baking
  • Cut out items using a plastic cookie cutter
  • Help clean up and wash dishes

I have also started including M in making her school lunch the night before. I find the more she is involved in preparing food, the more likely she is to eat it. This has worked wonders when it comes to introducing new foods to her.

The older she gets, I will start to involve in more tasks. For now, she loves being mommy’s helper in the kitchen.

How do you get your child involved in the kitchen?

For more info on getting active with kid’s in the kitchen, visit


16 Responses

  1. Jessica @ How Sweet said on October 3, 2011 at 8:27 am

    love, love, love this. such a cutie.

  2. Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather said on October 3, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Such great tips! I cannot wait to have my kuddos helping out in the kitchen :). She is a doll.

  3. Anne at Always Half Full said on October 3, 2011 at 9:28 am

    My son loves to be in the mix. He wants to chop vegetables, stir ingredients – whatever we do. I give him a dull plastic knife and some veggie scraps when I’m chopping. He gets his own or gets to stir the ingredients in the bowl. It gets messy, and I am learning patience! Sometimes he’s still happy pretending with his plastic play food and pots, bowls, spoons.

  4. Estela - Weekly Bite said on October 3, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I love the idea of using veggie scraps for him to play with πŸ™‚

  5. Molly said on October 3, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    woot woot!

    Thank you Estela! Your Pumpkin Applesauce Mini Muffins will be Clarke’s any my first adventure together the kitchen!

  6. Estela - Weekly Bite said on October 3, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Yay! Let me know how they turn out πŸ™‚

  7. Alysa (InspiredRD) said on October 3, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Great tips! I have my kids help out in the kitchen all the time. I think you are spot on when you suggest having them help when you aren’t in a rush. I also agree that kids are more likely to try something when they have a hand in preparing it.

  8. Estela - Weekly Bite said on October 3, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Thank You Alysa : )

  9. Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) said on October 3, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Such cute pictures and I totally agree! Get them in the kitchen young. πŸ™‚

  10. thehealthyapron said on October 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Aww yes I agree! As soon as you can start kids in the kitchen the better! I hope to have my future kids in the kitchen helping all the time

  11. Anna @ On Anna's Plate said on October 3, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    She looks like such a great helper!!! She’s going to love having these kitchen memories with you her entire life!

  12. Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) said on October 3, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Max has ALWAYS helped me in the kitchen. He’s one of those kids that wants to work with you so I’ve always had a little helper…even with the laundry. He is going to make someone EXTREMELY happy one day!

  13. Kris | said on October 3, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Awwww, FAB tips girl!!! I love seeing little ones in the kitchen! I used to love doing this with my mom πŸ™‚ Especially in the fall and winter!


  14. Candy @ Healthy in Candy Land said on October 3, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Such a great post! I love it when my 8 year old son helps me in the kitchen. (Even when he spills green smoothie all over the counter and floor like he did tonight!) It is something that just he and I get to share since his little brother doesn’t have much interest in the kitchen yet (except eating our creations!) I think it is important for them to see that food is something we prepare and cook with love, not something that comes from a package.

  15. Nicole, RD said on October 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I love it! This makes me all the more excited about having kids and getting them involved with cooking, baking, etc. πŸ™‚ Also, I wrote a bit for SuperKids Nutrition when I was in grad school. Small world!