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kidsinkitchenBy Federika Garcia Muchacho and Meaghan Sutherland

Looking for a chef’s assistant?  Give your child a healthy and nutritious start by involving them in the kitchen! Offering hands-on cooking experiences when they are little can help create a lifelong love of healthy foods.    Involving kids in shopping, prepping, and cooking can also help them be more comfortable in the kitchen and be more adventurous when it comes to trying new foods!

You already know that making things fun is a great way to keep your child’s attention. This goes for working in the kitchen!  Give your child fun tasks that they can feel good about doing.  According to your child’s age, some jobs may be better than others.  You know your child’s abilities best, but check out this guide for some ideas.

2 years old 3 years old 4 years old 5 years old
·   Tear greens

·   Rinse fruits and vegetables

·   Carry cold ingredients from one place to the other

·    Measure, mix and pour ingredients

·    Mash vegetables

·    Place things in the trash

·    Shake ingredients in a covered container

·  Peel fruits such as oranges and bananas

·  Peel hard boiled eggs

·  Mash bananas or cooked beans with a fork

·  Use kid safe scissors to cut parsley and other soft vegetables

·  Help set the table

·   Measure ingredients

·   Crack and beat eggs

·   Scoop out an avocado

·   Set a cooking timer

·   Squeeze lemons or limes

·   Help clean the countertops!

Remember that kids love to explore their surroundings, so make sure to keep a close eye on them to keep them safe in the kitchen.  Set them up in an area away from all hot surfaces (stovetop, ovens), as well as sharp utensils, blenders, and other small appliances. Cooking on the stove?  Turn those pan handles in so they don’t stick out and become overturned.

Involving kids in the kitchen is not only good for them, but also for you as a parent. Parent-child bonds are strengthened when you are able to spend quality time together, and cooking together is a great way to do that.  So, expect that things might get a little messy, and get ready to cook up a storm!

Federika Garcia Muchacho is a dietetic intern at Simmons College

 

 

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Nutrition Education Specialist for the Massachusetts WIC Program

Nutrition Education Specialist for the Massachusetts WIC Program

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