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Getting the Kids in the Kitchen: Why it's Important and How to Do It

Getting kids in the kitchen at a young age gives them time to develop skills and then use those skills as they get older. Learning different cooking techniques, recipes, and food prep skills gives our kids confidence in the kitchen, which will result in major life-long benefits for them. 

Over the past decade, kids have been getting less opportunity to learn cooking skills. This has happened because of a decrease in home-economics classes, as well as a decrease in teaching at home. Families are busier than ever, and there are many options for convenience foods to grab and go. These are all contributing factors to why cooking skills and knowledge are not being transferred down generation by generation. 

These are some of the big benefits that can be found by getting the kids in the kitchen with you:


Kids learn much more than just how to cook in the kitchen.

  • Reading recipes, food labels, and instructions all help build strong literacy skills. Kids are exposed to a different range of vocabulary when it comes to this type of reading. 

  • Measuring ingredients with cups, tablespoons, and weights all help practicing math skills. Think of all the fractions that can be done when you're doubling a recipe or all the ways that you can measure out one cup of ingredients. This is a fun way for kids to learn math, and they won't even realize it!


Inviting kids into the kitchen can also expand the opportunity for experimentation with different foods. When kids see the options in front of them, they may feel more curious about foods and want to try new things. Let them try new textures and flavors while you cook to see what new favorites they may find. 


Kids that cook in the kitchen build a healthy relationship with food. As kids begin to learn how food is made, they start to understand the role that food plays in their lives. As kids spend more time in the kitchen, they develop a skillset of preparing and enjoying balanced home-cooked meals. 


No one likes boring mealtimes, let's be honest. Many parents struggle with getting their children to eat what has been prepared for dinner. For parents with picky eaters, this can become even more of a challenge. Involving kids in the cooking process makes them feel like they are contributing and have a say in what they eat. This gets kids more excited about mealtimes and the food that is being served. 

At what age can kids start getting involved?

There's no such thing as too young. From babies to 2 years old, kids can be included by pulling up their high chair to be with you in the kitchen. There's no work involved here, and yet they will feel part of the process. Give them a few non-breakable kitchen gadgets or utensils to play with for an authentic 'kitchen helper' feel!

Unlock Food, a Dietitians of Canada online resource has developed a list of skills that can be performed at different age ranges that can help to involve your children in food preparation. A quick guideline is:

  • Ages 2-3: Washing fruits and vegetables.

  • Ages 3-4: Pouring ingredients into a bowl from a measuring cup.

  • Ages 4-6: Stirring ingredients.

  • Ages 6-8: Making their own simple breakfast such as cereal and milk or fruit on yogurt.

  • Ages 8-11: Using a stove with supervision for foods like eggs, pancakes, and soup.

Getting your kids involved in the kitchen involves a touch of patience, but, in the long run, you will help your children develop important skills that will last a lifetime. Time spent with the kids in the kitchen will also give you a chance to learn more about your kids and create some great memories for the entire family.


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