How can my child help in the kitchen?

Cooking with Kids

How can my child help in the kitchen?

Food can be used to unlock the potential to DISCOVER: by teaching children to shop and cook. Starting from a young age, inspiring children to shop, prepare and cook food can set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Prefer to watch it? Check out my clip on Global TV discussing getting kids in the kitchen.

A great way to teach children about food is to let them join you in the kitchen; Yet, a recent Ipsos survey conducted in 2017 for Dietitians of Canada found that 38 per cent of parents rarely or never let their child prepare a meal or snack.

I totally get that it’s messy and time-consuming, but it’s a missed opportunity! So today I have five tips for getting kids involved in the kitchen:

1. Incorporate learning 

Build on lessons they learn in school, such as math, science or reading! Younger children can practice fine motor skills by stirring and pouring. These Foost knives are perfect starting tools for kids. Sve 10% off with the code “FirstStepNurtrition10” using my affiliate link.

2. Keep it fun!

Imaginative play helps children get involved. Make a theme night or turn your kitchen into a restaurant or reality cooking show. My kids love creating menus and taking “orders.” Or create art: it’s fun for them to eat their art creation!

3. Be a role model:

If you’re excited to cook and try new foods, they will be too. Try new food, describe the flavour and be adventurous to inspire your eaters to do the same. Get other members of the family involved. 

4. Be cool about the mess:

Spills and accidental messes happen, and it’s important to remain calm about inevitable mishaps. Keep kitchen towels handy for cleaning up spills. Cleaning up messes is a part of learning how to be in the kitchen, so get your kids to help clean up.

5. Pick a recipe together:

Children need to be part of the plan from the beginning, and it helps if they prepare something that they love to eat. Shop for groceries together too! Kids are much more likely to eat what they choose or help make, so cooking at home is a great tip if you have picky eaters.

How can my child help in the kitchen?

Here’s a guideline for kitchen skills based on age:

  • 2-3 year-olds can wash vegetables and fruit or tear lettuce and salad greens
  • 3-4-year-olds can mash potatoes and bananas or mix together batters
  • 4-6-year-olds can measure dry and liquid ingredients or set the table
  • 6-8-year-olds can toss salad ingredients together or make a simple breakfast
  • 8-12-year-olds can make their school lunch or help to plan meals
  • Teens can follow more complicated recipes or assemble and mix most ingredients. They can also be in charge of making one meal per week.

Adapted from the Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month campaign materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at

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Founder of First Step Nutrition | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Jen believes raising happy, well-nourished eaters who have a healthy relationship with food doesn't have to be a battle! She is an author and speaker with 18 years of experience specializing in family nutrition and helps parents teach their kids to try new foods without yelling, tricking, or bribing.



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