When Can Kids Start Helping in the Kitchen?

By: Bob's Red Mill | July 1 2020

If you're a fan of cooking and wonder when is a good time to have your kids start helping in the kitchen, the answer is now! Even at an early age, a child can begin helping you in the kitchen with basic kid-friendly tasks. Which brings us to the next commonly asked question: "How do I know which tasks my child is ready for?" Now, the answer to this question is a bit more complicated as it truly depends on the child. While some 8-year-olds might be skilled enough to handle complex tasks like chopping veggies, those who have little cooking experience might be challenged by simpler duties like rounding up the correct recipe ingredients.

You know your child best, and while some children may have very advanced cooking skills at a young age, others will need a bit more guidance. To help you brainstorm cooking duties that your child can help you with depending on their age, we've come up with this rough guide of cooking responsibilities suitable for various age ranges. 

Before delegating any of these tasks, it's vital first to supervise and ensure that he or she is capable of each task. Only you know your children's level of understanding and responsibility.

Children Under Five Years Old

When Can Kids Start Helping in the Kitchen? | Bob's Red Mill Blog

Between the ages of two and five, children can start assisting with simple tasks like stirring, rinsing and decorating.

From baking sugar cookies to making kid-approved healthy recipes, there's bound to be an easy job that your child can help out with. Pouring flour, sprinkling sugar and even juicing citrus are all fun ways to get your toddler involved in the cooking process. 

Or, if you're not ready to have you little one working with food, ask them to be your designated helper! This means helping to get out equipment, hand you spoons and even find the right measuring tools. 

Children Five to Seven Years Old

Children five to seven years old can help out with all of the above and more. By now, your child will have more practice using their motor skills, which means that they can successfully stir, pour and rinse with little to no assistance. Advanced young chefs may be able to start cutting with soft utensils such as a kid-safe, plastic knife. Easy to find, there are many kid-safe kitchen tools on the market that are sharp enough to cut food, and gentle enough to avoid accidents.

Kneading bread, cracking eggs and shaping dough are all baking tasks that your child may be ready for at this age.

Children Seven to Ten Years Old

When Can Kids Start Helping in the Kitchen? | Bob's Red Mill Blog

Now that your child understands the basics of cooking and has likely spent time in the kitchen, you can begin to give them more advanced tasks. Children, seven to ten years of age, can handle all of the above, as well as more intricate tasks. Measuring ingredients, frosting, decorating, greasing pans, pouring liquids, and decorating dishes are all age-appropriate skills to teach your children. 

Showing your children proper measurements is a great way to make learning math fun. When following a recipe, help your child fully understand the fractions and math concepts used. And, if they don't understand something, walk them through it. Aside from math, cooking can also teach a child about chemistry. Explaining the functions of ingredients like baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum and guar gum, will prove to be a fun and useful science lesson. 

Cooking with Preteens

At this age, your child may be able to receive more advanced responsibilities like using a real knife, peeler and cheese grater. Starting with easy-to-cut foods like bananas and cheese is a great way to set your preteen up for success. They may also be ready to start baking and cooking with heat. Supervising your child and teaching them the proper way to use an oven or stove will help them make safe choices in the future.

If you believe you have a little chef on your hands, let them take the lead! From choosing the recipe to preparing it, offer guidance along the way to ensure that your child's dish is successful. 

When Can Kids Start Helping in the Kitchen? | Bob's Red Mill Blog

Remember, when it comes to baking with kids, it's never too early! From toddlers to preteens, there is likely to be something that they can help out with. Use this article as a guide to help you brainstorm new ways to get your little ones involved. Introducing your children to new smells, flavors, and textures is bound to be a learning experience they will remember. Lastly, don't forget the cleanup! Putting away leftover ingredients, wiping down countertops and washing dishes is an important part of the cooking process. Plus, it's always nice to have some extra help.

Have fun tips and tricks to start cooking with your children? Let us know your "little chef" tips in the comments below. From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, have a happy and healthy day!

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