How to Involve Children in the Kitchen

We do not remember days,

we remember moments.

Kids are usually curious about what happens in the kitchen. As soon as they can crawl, they spend time trying to get into this forbidden realm, only to find their parents constantly blocking their paths. In the long run, though, making the kitchen the forbidden place is not in the best interest of the kids or the parents.

When children lose interest in the kitchen, they also lose the opportunity to become more independent and secure, to spend real quality time with their parents and to become healthier. So, how can parents maintain and encourage interest in the kitchen, while keeping their children safe?

One good way to start fostering an early love of cooking is by allowing babies to hang out in the kitchen while the parents cook. Parents can narrate the process and allow the kids to play with some of the safe kitchen utensils as they cook. These babies will grow thinking about the importance of the act of cooking and will also begin learning early about healthy foods.

As the kids grow into older toddlers, parents can encourage their interest in the kitchen by getting them actively involved. Older toddlers and preschoolers can wash vegetables, pour ingredients and help stir when cooking. They can help knead bread and shape cookies. These hands-on activities are especially delightful to kids. They also serve a double purpose as parents can take the time to teach the kids about the different types of foods.

Once old enough, kids can be allowed to begin actual cooking over heat, with strict parental supervision. They can even help plan meals, which will show them that their contributions to family decisions are important. Eventually, older kids can actually be in charge of completing a meal a week if they want to. This is great preparation for when they move out on their own.

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