When I cook, unless I’m distracting her with a show (see above), she’s always tugging at my pantlegs wanting to see what I’m doing. Most of the time what I’m making involves a hot stove &/or icky, potentially bacteria-laden raw ingredients, but I try to involve her in my cooking when I can.
She has the apron to prove it.
At 19 months, though, it’s hard to find age-appropriate things for her to do!
Lunchtime is when I usually have her help. Her favorite thing to help me make is bagel pizzas. She knows the order in which to add ingredients, & I sprinkle a little cheese or some pepperoni on the cookie sheet for her to sprinkle onto her pizza. She was pretty good at that until she realized that those things tasted good BEFORE they were cooked, too.
Even so, it’s still fun to come up with ways my Kitchen Helper can be involved in cooking. Like helping her dad flip pancakes:
We also try to reinforce safety with our little Kitchen Helper. She knows exactly where to stand when the oven is open so that she doesn’t get burned:
Susan McQuillan, R.D., who wrote the Sesame Street cookbook “C” is for Cooking (I highly recommend this cookbook; it has great kid-friendly recipes & even lets you know which steps a small child can perform. The Munchkin especially loves seeing the Sesame Street characters on each page.), lists some of the many benefits of having your kids help you in the kitchen:
- “…exploring food can help children improve their fine motor skills & eye-hand coordination.”
- “Following recipes can reinforce basic math & reading skills & help children begin to learn how to follow sequential directions.”
- Cooking from scratch starting at an early age is “building a foundation for them to make smart food choices throughout their lifetime as well as helping them develop a taste for wholesome, homemade food.”
- “The more time your child spends in the kitchen helping with meal preparation, the more curious & open-minded she’ll become about food.”
- In short, it’s about “helping kids learn new skills & develop a positive relationship with food.”
Even as young as our Kitchen Helper is, her time in the kitchen has taught her cause & effect, patience, & sequential steps. She gets so excited to be involved in what we’re doing, & the payoff for us is seeing her eager anticipation to taste the fruits of her labors:
Kids in the Kitchen has a great list of age-appropriate tasks for your Kitchen Helpers of all ages.
How do you involve your kids in the kitchen?