Our guide to cooking safely with your kids

Our guide to cooking safely with your kids

Although it can get messy and time-consuming, asking your kids to help out in the kitchen is a great way to share valuable time together and teach them skills that will last a lifetime.

As bakers of wholesome, sweet treats, we thought we’d share a few thoughts on involving the whole family whenever you’re drumming up a quick snack or even preparing a full dinner.

Teach Life Skills

A child who cooks becomes an adult who cooks. And there’s no better way to ensure you’ll raise a healthy, happy adult than teaching them fundamental kitchen skills. By getting your kids involved in the kitchen at an early age, you’ll teach them how to cook their own food, broaden their palates and even reinforce mental math skills.

Bring the Whole Family Together

Simply by being in the same room together and participating in various tasks in the kitchen, your family will have more time to talk about what happened during the day, how school is coming along and what your kids’ friends are doing. This time of sharing nurtures family bonds that will in turn boost your child’s self-confidence.

Your children will also gain a better sense of respect for the work it takes to prepare meals every night. It’s not as easy for your child to push back a plate of uneaten brussels sprouts if they know Mom or Dad spent time and effort to bring everything to the table.

Match Tasks To Age

Once you decide to involve your kids in meal preparation, you must decide what they’re capable of. You know your child’s dexterity and coordination better than anyone else, so matching them to a task in the kitchen is your call.

However, there are a few general age-to-task categories that can help you decide what your kids are ready to take on.

  • 3-5 years old: Safely away from hot stoves and sharp knives, toddlers can be shown different food ingredients and learn what they’re called. Toddlers can also usually safely squeeze lemons, shred lettuce with their hands, dry salads in a salad spinner, knead dough and help set the table. Children past the toddler stage can help mix liquid ingredients in a bowl and grease pans. They may also be able to spread pizza sauce onto crusts and add toppings.
  • 6-8 years old: Kids under 8 are still developing their motor skills, so they may only be ready for cracking eggs, chopping soft fruits and vegetables on a cutting board with a plastic knife and putting leftover ingredients away. They can also form meatballs and use a cookie cutter to make cookies.
  • 9-10 years old: Kids this age may use a can opener, thoroughly clean fruits and vegetables, mix dry ingredients, use a pizza cutter to slice a pizza, make sandwiches and wraps and set the oven to a specific temperature.
  • 11 years old and up: Children 11 years and older are ready to take on almost every remaining kitchen task, such as stirring dried pasta into boiling water, simmering ingredients on the stove, baking, following simple recipes and chopping fruits and vegetables of all kinds. Make sure they can handle themselves around a stove safely before you leave them unsupervised. But once they get the hang of cooking, they should be ready to cook their own snacks or occasional meal on their own.