How To Include Kids In the Kitchen – By Age

by NaturalDeets
a square picture with 3 pictures of kids cooking

Come one, come all! The best part of having kids in the kitchen is that there is something for every child, regardless of age!

a pintrest pin that says include kids in the kitchen and pictures of kids cooking

Think back to when you were little and you cooked with your mom. Maybe you just have one memory, or it’s possible you have many. But all it takes is one. 

Now think about what you were doing while your mom was cooking. Were you helping out by measuring, chopping or cooking on the stove? Or were you just observing and watching? I know some fond memories involve just being in the same kitchen chatting while one person was cooking. 

Regardless of what you were doing, remember that feeling of happiness and connection you had with your mom during that time. And then think about giving that same type of memories to your own kids!

Age Appropriate Kid Kitchen Skills – by Age

One of the most important things when teaching a child to cook is to remember to keep the tasks age appropriate. If you give a child something that is too easy, they will quickly get bored and want to move on. Then you won’t have that time together in the kitchen!

If you give them a task that is too difficult, they (and you) will become frustrated and it won’t be a fun experience. It could be dangerous as well, since there are many kitchen hazards.

Kitchen Safety For Kids – Kitchen Rules

Nobody likes rules, but sometimes they are necessary. And in the kitchen, it is definitely necessary! Here are just a few important rules to share with your kids. Then we will move on to the fun stuff!

  • Keep Track Of Your Knives - Always be aware of where your knife is at all times. It should remain on the cutting board or in the sink when not in use. If walking with the knife, keep it at your side, pointed backwards and towards the floor. Absolutely NO running with knives
  • Keep Fingers Away From The Knife - Be sure to tuck in your fingers when cutting with a knife. This will keep the tips of your fingers safe!
  • Be Very Careful With Pots On The Stove - Chances are that they are full of boiling water or something extremely hot! Depending on the age of the child, it might be best to restrict them by the stove without an adult
  • Cleaning is a part of cooking! So make sure everyone helps will cooking...your welcome!

Cooking Tasks By Age:

0-2 Years Old

Let’s be real…this is a very difficult age! Chances are you can’t cook with your child when they are this young. However, as soon as your child can sit in a high chair and pick up finger foods, you can put them in the kitchen with you! 

Sprinkle some food on their high chair tray and let them eat while watching you cook. I did this with my kids and it was a lot of fun. You can still talk and sing to them and everyone will be giggling!

At this point they are just “helping” you prep!

3-6 Years Old

This is one of my favorite age groups! Everything is new and oh so exciting! They will be happy doing anything as long as it involves you. Obviously, they are still too young to hold a knife, but there are still somethings they can do. Keep a close eye on them and make sure they don’t eat anything they aren’t supposed to. 

  • Shelling Peas - Click HERE to see how
  • Mixing Dough and Batter - If they are too young to keep the flour in the bowl, they will be happy copying you with an empty bowl and wooden spoon!
  • Washing Produce
  • Picking leaves off of herbs
  • Kneading Dough
  • Whisking
a picture of a 6 year old bot sprinkling salt on chicken

6-8 Years Old

What can a 7 year old cook? Well, At this age the kids have more control and can now be trusted with a knife (use your best judgement here). It is time to start teaching them proper knife skills so they can start building their chopping habits! 

They are also able to read and follow directions, so you can start having them cook off of a recipe!

My 9 year old also likes to make notes in our recipe books of any changes or alterations we make to the recipes. 

Here are just a few skills that they can practice!

  • Chopping fruits and vegetables
  • Mixing batter
  • Measuring wet and dry ingredients
  • Measuring cookie dough and placing them on the cookie sheet
  • Grating and Shredding vegetables (carrots, zucchini, potatoes, etc)
  • Making pancakes. This is a great one to get them used to using a griddle and pan! It also teaches them to be careful around hot surfaces
a pile of grated carrots on a mason jar lid

9-13 Years Old

This is a fun age becuase you can really get them going now! They are old enough to chop and dice with the best of them! This is the age that they start to gain confidence (some would argue too much confidence) so they need to be reminded to keep their fingers tucked in and safe. 

Here are just a few items that you can hand off to your budding chef! But at this age you can follow thier lead and give them more, if they are ready for it!

  • Chopping, Dicing, Mincing and Grating
  • They can start cooking on the stove 
  • They can start using the oven, however they may still need help lifting food in and out of the oven
  • As you child reaches closer to age 12, they will likely be able to cook on their own. But remind them of kitchen safety!
  • Making bread dough, proofing the dough and baking it! Now that is a real baker! 
a picture of a 9 year old girl chopping carrots

What Age Can A Child Cut With A Knife?

My son started cutting with a butter knife when he was about 5 years old. I quickly realized that it was more dangerous (and very difficult) to cut with a butter knife, so I started teaching him how to cut with the Opinel Kids Chef Knife. This knife is small enough to comfortably fit in his hand which gives him better control. 

I started with teaching him how to cut apple slices. However, he is no where near being able to do this himself. He will pur his fingers in the line of the blade so I have to watch him carefully. 

On the other hand, my 9 year old is very good at using a knife. She is careful and knows to tuck in her fingers. She can chop almost anything and I have her using my Santoku knife

In my experience a child is ready to use a knife somewhere between ages 7-8 years old. These kids still need to be supervised and the best experience is to set up your cutting board and knife right next to theirs and start prepping together! 

Fun memories to be made!

What Do You Cook With Kids? 

If we just give kids a chance to try new things, they will never fail to amaze us! Natural Deets was designed with kids in mind so most recipes are going to be kid friendly and kids will be able to cook them! 

Select a few of our most recent recipes and try them with your kids today! Then join our Facebook group and Share a picture of your creations! 

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