Edward Elmhurst Health shared that if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that kids love getting their hands dirty.
They have just as much fun making mud pies in a backyard “kitchen” as they do making a more-edible yogurt parfait.
It’s a great idea to get kids working in the kitchen, even at a young age. The more you teach kids about good nutrition, the more likely they will be to make a habit of healthy cooking. Another bonus — cooking provides math, literacy, and science lessons that are guaranteed to be fun!
Working on a recipe together gives adults an opportunity to teach kids about cleanliness. Thoroughly wash hands, utensils, and work surfaces before starting, and make sure kids know not to sample the food before it’s cooked.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides an excellent breakdown of tasks kids can safely handle in the kitchen by age:
3-5 year olds
Young children love helping out but need very close adult supervision since their motor skills are still developing. Teach these youngsters the importance of washing produce and using clean appliances and utensils.
- Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Make it a game by singing the “Happy Birthday” song together twice as you wash your hands.
- Wash fruits and vegetables in the sink with cool tap water.
- Wipe up tabletops.
- Mix ingredients like easy-to-mix batters.
- Brush (or “paint”) oil with a clean pastry brush on bread, asparagus, or other foods.
- Cut cookies with fun-shaped cookie cutters (but don’t eat the raw dough!).