Our Readers' Best Advice for Cooking with Kids
Cooking with kids can be a truly fun and rewarding experience, but it also raises a lot of questions. We've shared a number of helpful tips with you from cookbooks for kids to baking with kids, and our favorite tips on how kids can be truly helpful in the kitchen. Turns out that you also had a ton of great tips to share with us and each other.
Here are the 8 best bits of advice from our readers on cooking with kids.
1. Use a special kitchen stool or bench.
I love involving the kids in the kitchen and these are some really great tips. We have special stool (kitchen-helper style) that has been my biggest and best investment for our kitchen. It's their spot in the kitchen and they love it. - jesser
I've been cooking with my 3 year old for about a year - probably once or twice a week. We keep a footstool in the kitchen which is just the right height for her. I always place the stool far enough away from the oven so that she can't reach over and touch something hot. - Nerves
2. Large bowls are your friend.
I would add: use the very biggest mixing bowl you have. If it's not very big, get one. My daughter's first and favorite task was/is whisking eggs. Even for 2 eggs I give her a massive bowl. Only big mishap so far: she touched my upper arm with the whirling beaters. No harm. I was quite frosted, though. - cmcinnyc
3. Be cautious when necessary.
I agree: teach them early, but also start immediately with the discussion of "hot" and "dangerous", which is what I'm trying to do with my 16-month old. My hope is that he'll have developed a healthy respect for the stove by the time he gets around to using it. - lkb
4. Give small tasks to get them involved.
My 3.5 year old helps out, but not with the hot or sharp stuff yet. I've had him stirring things and swishing veggies since he was about 2. My 18 mo old loves to take (non-breakable, non-spillable) things to the table. The 3.5 yo can usually be trusted taking breakable, spillable stuff to the table. - pschreiber42
I've been including my son in meal making since he was 6 months (when he was only the audience!!) Now at 2, he LOVES emptying the dishwasher, breaking asparagus, whisking eggs, and adding ingredients to my mixing bowls. I love how he is just as passionate about cooking as I am ;-) - Lisa @bitesforbabies
5. Vegetable prep is a good source of easy tasks.
I have 3-year-old twin boys who love to "help" me cook. We eat a lot of spinach salads, and one of their favorite helping mommy things to do is to pinch the stem off the spinach leaves. - Jillana
My kids do things like harvest veggies & herbs from the garden, shell peas, husk corn, and snap beans. - NowWeAre6
6. Make it into a game, or even better a cooking show.
My daughter will do anything I ask of her in the kitchen, as long as we either talk about our day or pretend we're on a cooking show. I'm not joking. The other day I called her from work to tell her when I'd be home and she said, "Mome, there are a lot of dishes to do. Will we have time to do them together when you get home?"
Anyway. She loves keeping an eye on whatever's cooking so she can guess what time it'll be done ("I think this water will boil by 6:13. What do you want to bet?"), and putting whatever vegetables I chop into whatever they're going into. While being interviewed by Alton Brown on Iron Chef, of course. - DD Lizzy
We do the "Mom Cooking Show" thing, too. She just loves to hear me discuss what I'm doing. It sort of reminds me of the old Sara Moulton call-in show on the Food Network. - Scraps
7. Let them help with the dishes.
Over the holidays, I discovered that my 3 1/2 year old niece really likes washing dishes. We were cleaning up after a meal, and my niece really wanted in on the action (monkey see monkey do). We propped a step stool in front of the sink, took out the knives and let her go to town. It got a little messy (wet) and a few things needed a quick re-wash, but she had a great time and was actually a good helper! - Chels504
My 3.5 year old likes to dry and put stuff away (all her plates and cups and bowls go into a drawer she can reach) and also she loves to empty the silver ware from the dishwasher. It's a great sorting task and she's been doing it for almost a year. She will also help clear dishes off the table. - K80
8. Above all...have fun and forget about the mess.
My biggest tip for parents starting out with teaching their kids to cook, is just let them do it, forget about the mess, have fun an enjoy it.....my little daughter will drop any other activity just to spend time cooking in the kitchen with me & I love it :) - Eavan