We have all seen those photos of mother and child joyfully baking and bonding in the kitchen. The reality is often far less blissful. In fact, cooking with kids can be an absolute disaster if the expectations of your child’s abilities, attention and self-control are not realistic.

Despite the potential nightmare, cooking with kids introduces them to important lifelong food literacy skills, encourages a varied diet and eating habits conducive with positive health outcomes. (1) Children of any age can participate in cooking activities, from simply playing with pots and pan, and pretending to stir and pour, through to helping preparing the family dinner.

But remember, the kitchen can be a hazardous place and care should be taken. Some kitchen hazards are quiet obvious, like sharp knives and hot surfaces, while others are less visible, such as the risk of cross contamination and food poisoning from raw meat or eggs and unwashed surfaces. It is important to keep these hazards in mind and ensure cooking activities are appropriate to your child’s age and skill level.

Cooking with kids under 4 years

Under four years of age children can stir, masher, add ingredients, use cookie cutters and rolling pins, grate and peel with some assistance. They can also transfer mixture from a bowl to a baking dish, help count out ingredients and make simple choices, like banana or blueberry muffins. There little minds and hands do tend to wonder so it is a good idea to choose simple, quick recipes that they can eat straight away, such as Banana Bliss Balls.

This is the prefect age to introduce basic concepts like hygiene and food safety, like washing your hands, and fruits and vegetables (which kids love to do!). It is also the prime age for fussy eating. Encouraging their involvement and independence in the kitchen can assist overcome some of these issues and encourages them to try different foods.

Cooking with kids 5 years and older

Once basic cooking skills have been mastered, children can begin to complete tasks with less assistance. Although more competent and confident in the kitchen, mess is still inevitable. Try not to let it both your – ‘big’ kids can help clean up too!

Now that they are also going to school, they can contribute to packing their own lunchbox. Initially this might involve choosing a piece of fruit and getting a tub of yoghurt from fridge, but as they get older they can progress to make their own sandwich or baking muffins for morning tea as well.

Children 14 years and older

By this age kids they know it all (just ask them!), and it’s time to hone the culinary skills that will nourish them into their adult lives. They will be able to contribute regularly to family meals and should be encouraged to pack their own lunch independently. A stronger emphasis can be given to understanding portion sizes and eating a balanced diet – although it’s not likely to feature highly on their priority list.

Remember, we all have our strengths, and our weaknesses. Keep your expectations of your child appropriate to their age and skill level. You don’t need to be a master chef to be able to prepare healthy, delicious food, however enjoying your time in the kitchen will have a big impact on the effort given to nourishing your body, so have fun, make a mess, and enjoy the time with your children.

If you need a little inspiration to get your and your children started in the kitchen head over to The Kids Menu for a free e-book, 14 Healthy Kids Recipes.

 

Win Philips Home Appliance Package


  • i cant wait to start cooking with and teaching my kids to cook…

    Reply


  • Now in year 4, mine has finally taken helping prepare and pack food seriously and is providing great help. Yeah! Cooking with kids eventually pays off – can’t wait until later years when skills become better than mine (I’m hoping!)

    Reply


  • cooking with kids is very fun

    Reply


  • one of my fave things to do on a Sunday – pj’s, kids, kitchen, love

    Reply


  • Love cooking and love the kids cooking with me – great life skills and most importantly lots of fun for everyone.

    Reply


  • looking nice

    Reply


  • great

    Reply


  • I love having my kids help in the kitchen.

    Reply


  • cooking with kids is tricky and you have to be prepared to throw all plans out the window. or so i have found.

    Reply


  • I love my kids helping in the kitchen, it’s just the extra mess I hate.

    Reply


  • My son doesn’t always like cooking with me, but he does like getting out all the ingredients needed.

    Reply


  • Some great tips – thank you

    Reply


  • My kids like the eating bit and the licking of the beaters.

    Reply


  • My eldest and my youngest have always be great at baking and then at cooking but my middle child was not interested at all.
    My Mum always left me to do my baking as a child and she only helped out when i would ask for help. Her Mother used to hound her so much that she ended up giving up and hated to bake.

    Reply


  • My son loves baking cupcakes….well until he can lick the bowl and then his gone!!

    Reply

Post a comment
Like Facebook page

LIKE MoM on Facebook

Please enter your comment below
Would you like to include a photo?

No picture uploaded yet
Please wait to see your image preview here before hitting the submit button.

Your MoM account

Lost your password?

Enter your email and a password below to post your comment and join MoM:

↥ Back to top

Thanks For Your Star Rating!

Would you like to add a written rating or just submit?

Write A Rating Just Submit
Join