Kids in the kitchen

[deleted account] ( 51 moms have responded )

Kind of a spin-off from the baby-proofing thread and a slight debate I got into on the Welcome page recently...

Is the kitchen a place for children? How old should a child be before they are allowed to help cook or be taught to cook? I'm talking about at the stove and oven.

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Sherri - posted on 01/21/2011

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I have been cooking with my kids since they could stand up. My sons preschool cooks with the kids weekly. The kids have such a desire to learn. I think cooking is a life skill they need and something I want to teach and nurture.



Same here kids use the microwave (Brady just needs help with the numbers and taking the hot food out), toaster(can put it in and push lever I take hot food out), stove(with help), oven(with help of course).

[deleted account]

Eliza started helping me before her second birthday. One day she literally pushed a kitchen chair to the counter, climbed up, and asked to help. Since then she's been by my side and helping every time I cook. She stirs and puts things in the pot. She understands what hot is, not by me telling her (which I did) but because she knows if she gets too close it doesn't feel good! She also helps load and unload the dishwasher.

Before then, I never made her leave the kitchen while cooking...though I did have her stand away from the stove and sink if I was draining pasta or something with boiling water.

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Sal - posted on 01/24/2011

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i have never worked out how to keep them out -until they are old enough to wash up then they are just never around. seriously mine have been in the kitchen from the moment they were able to move and get them selves there, i had little kiddie gates and that slowed them down but just have to learn to be safe with them there, you know sausepan handles the right way, cupboards locked etc, they are 2 1/2 and 4 now and love love love helping, and my 14 yr old is confident enough to do what he has to in there, full meals, get vegies, makes breakfast, anything i ask, he bitches now but can do it-

Nikkole - posted on 01/23/2011

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Yea i figure have fun when you cook and if you make a mess no biggie lol yea my mom didn't let us help either :(

Bonnie - posted on 01/23/2011

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That's so cute Nikkole! It's just a bit of a mess that can be cleaned up later on. I wish my mother would have realised that when my brother and I were growing up. *sigh*

Amy - posted on 01/23/2011

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My son helps me cook - he's 2. He dumps ingredients in the bowl. dumps the noodles into the pan while i hold him. He KNOWS what hot is. We have a wood stove. Daughter is 4. At 3 she was standing in a chair [we have a ladder back chair we turned backwards so the ladder part was like a gate] and I'd stand there with her. She'd put her butter in the pan and i'd put the eggs in. she'd stir and salt her own [two shakes] and she loves it. she helps cook cakes, cookies, helps layer the lasagna. Why not, kids in kitchen? Last summer son was 18 months, daughter 3 1/2 and they helped with canning and gardening. Georgiana snapped green beans and filled the jars. mason got a spoon and put salt in each one. with corn, he handed it to georgie, she took husk off with me and we cooked it and daddy cut it to put in freezer bags. Cooking is very much a part of our lives and almost every meal from scratch. I wouldn't have it any other way than showing them how to do it.

[deleted account]

my son is 14 months and ever since he was born i used to put him in his bouncer and up onto he bench so he could watch me...he's 14 months now and sits on the bench and watches me (sometimes i let him help stir things) and if its something like carrot or capsicum i let him try a bit raw. he's currently learning about the "burny" oven he's touched the outside a few times when its on but he's never been burnt. I think the sooner you get a child into the kitchen and show them what you're doing the more respect they have for the "burny" oven and the "ouchy sharpy" knife and hey the may even decide to cook you a meal. I have fond memories of watching my mum make spaghetti from scratch as a child and by the time i was 12 i could do it myself.

Nikkole - posted on 01/21/2011

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lol yea and he even added pepper to the red velvet cake :P needless to say we made it again! He loves to help cook so i let him maybe he will be a famous chef someday :)

[deleted account]

I have always let my kids help me cook no matter their age. Only my 14 yr old is allowed to use the stove. However, my 7 yr old is allowed the microwave with minimal supervisions, & the toaster. My 3 & 4 yr olds aren't allowed any of that yet. HOWEVER, all of my kids are allowed to help cook. There is always things that they can help do in the kitchen. Mixing ingredients, tossing a salad, making the drinks, setting the table, putting up dishes, pulling out the veggies/fruits or putting them up, etc. etc. etc. I can go on all day on how my kids have always helped. It makes them feel important and they learn something new every time.

Becky - posted on 01/21/2011

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Cole uses the microwave too, although not by himself. I help him with the buttons, but he gets mad at me if I warm up his food without him!

Charlie - posted on 01/21/2011

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I used to sleep with my mobile under my pillow or next to my bed and would always wake up with a headache as soon as I stopped doing it the headaches disappeared I could actually feel my brain dying !

[deleted account]

I don't use it because high levels of heat kill all the natural enzymes in the food. I cook everything slowly on a lower heat so i can preserve the enzymes as much as possible. I eat raw food a good deal of the time.

Charlie - posted on 01/21/2011

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I love my microwave , I use it all the time Cooper doesn't though , no reason he just isn't interested .

I must say I had microwave paranoia when I was pregnant LOL I stood outside the room while it was on I am equally scared of mobile phones and used to freak out when Jamie would carry it in his pocket next to his testicles , i would say " HEY I WANNA HAVE MORE KIDS YOU KNOW " But now I have my two boys he is free to fry em' LMAO .

Lucy that is a great Idea !

Stifler's - posted on 01/21/2011

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I still lick the beaters from cake mix like a child hahaha I can't wait til Logan is old enough to fight me for them.

Lucy - posted on 01/21/2011

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Hey, Loureen, we should start a new community "Mums who grow their own!"

Rosie - posted on 01/21/2011

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lol, radioactive mutants. guess my kids are mutants then cause they all use the microwave. lucas still needs help with the numbers, and getting the hot food out, but he likes pushing the buttons and putting the stuff in there.

Charlie - posted on 01/21/2011

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OMG A MICROWAVE AT 4 your kids are going to turn into radioactive mutants !!!!

Haha kidding .

Stifler's - posted on 01/21/2011

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I don't think I'd let a kid turn on the stove by themself and stand up there at a chair stirring stuff if I wasn't right there for quite a while.

Stifler's - posted on 01/21/2011

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My mum taught my brother to get a paper bag out and pour some popcorn kernels into it and put it in the microwave for an afternoon snack at 4. I read that thread on the Welcome Page and people were like OMG THE MICROWAVE AT 4!!!11 FIRE HAZARD!1111

Charlie - posted on 01/21/2011

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LaCi - My eldest LOVES pepper , he sucks the grinder haha .

Lucy I am so excited to move into my new house next week because there is a HUGE veggie patch and fruit orchid down the back , YYYAAAAAAYYYY.

September - posted on 01/21/2011

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I think kids in the kitchen is a wonderful thing if it's something they enjoying doing. When it comes to age I think it really depends on the child. Our son is 2 and loves to help me cook. We made chicken tacos together last night and it was a blast! He started showing interest in wanting to help me cook when he was about one and a half. I allow him to every time he asks as long as I'm not frying anything. Its fun and a great time for bonding! :)

Rosie - posted on 01/21/2011

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any age they can get up there and pick up a spoon. :) i'd go crazy if my kids didn't help me cook. they aren't out of diapers before they are up on the stool helping mommy stir, cut, and crack the eggy's (lol). it's very important to me. :)

oh and i don't let them near the oven until they are older. grant is almost 11 and he's the only one i let near the oven, the others aren't big enough to navigate themselves in there without burning themselves.

Becky - posted on 01/21/2011

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My kitchen is open too, so there's no way I could keep my kids out of it. But I don't have a problem with them being in there anyways. Cole knows safety rules - don't ever touch the stove or anything on it unless we say he can, stay out of the knife drawer, etc. Our oven doesn't get hot on the outside when it's on, although I still teach them not to touch it because I don't want them to think any oven is okay to touch. I keep them away when I'm taking stuff out of the oven - Cole knows to stay away, and I'll put Zach in his highchair if I have to to keep him back. They both love helping me cook and bake. Cole's pretty good, although once he grabbed the baking soda and dumped it into the chocolate chip cookies we were making. Those cookies were not so yummy! :) I think letting them be in the kitchen and help out is great. Plus, if you never even let them in the kitchen, how are they going to learn safety? I find it's more effective for me to touch the stove (when it's not hot of course) and pull my hand away and say "hot!" or to let them see and feel the steam coming off a hot pot or the heat coming out of the oven, than to just sit in the living room and say, "okay now, we don't touch the stove because it's hot."

Lady Heather - posted on 01/21/2011

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We already do lots of baking together - Freja likes to dump the ingredients in the bowl and stir stuff up. I'm sure she'll be cooking pretty young. I baked my first solo cake (no recipe even) when I was 8 years old, by myself in the kitchen. I think less supervised cooking at the age for a responsible kid is just fine. Stove and oven lessons have begun at our house, but just from a distance. In the next couple of years she'll probably get some more hands on experience, but I will be right next to her.

LaCi - posted on 01/21/2011

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well, mine has this thing for seasonings and spices. He can not be trusted in food preparations or he will dump all of every seasoning in the food when you aren't looking.

Realistically though, I probably won't let him use the stove until he's 7. He can help in prep, he can maybe even help with baking. I'm just really iffy on the actual cooking part of it. I'm not sure why really, I was cooking and baking pretty young and I liked doing it. I guess I'm just paranoid, and I'm not even close to being there yet so this may all change. :)

[deleted account]

I do things with gabby now, she puts veggies in the pots sometimes(before its hot). I give her balls of dough to roll when i bake bread. she does pretty good with it. I don't let her near the stove yet, she looks at it and points then does the hot sign and steers clear of it. She pulls the pots out of the cupboard and plays drums with them, i use to let her play with my wooden spoon.....but she went beaver on it.

Meghan - posted on 01/21/2011

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My son sits on the counter and helps me cook...dumps things into pots, stirs etc. The rule in our house is that he isn't allowed in the kitchen unless me or another adult are in there too. If he starts to bug me, I pull out the pots and pans and let him play drums, or reorganize the Tupperware

Sharon - posted on 01/21/2011

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My kids help out. They're perfectly able to pour frozen veggies into a glass dish for steaming in the microwave. They can set the microwave too.

They can help dredge meats for frying. Generally they are on the far side of me and away from the stove and I'll put whatever into the oils.

My oldest uses the toaster oven frequently to make pizza and various snacks.

I often send them to the kitchen to stir things, soups, stir fry, etc.

Shauna - posted on 01/21/2011

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My older son pulls up a chair and i talk out loud when i cook and say what ingrediants im using, how much yada yada ... but my 10 mo old is always clinging to my feet, my husbands NEVER home he works 2 jobs. our house is open concept too, and it scares the crap out of me! im always afraid im going to spill something on him... but its impossible to get him out of the kitchen... so when i have to open the oven door i pick him up place him in living room and run realy fast before he crawls back and catch me so i can pop the food in the oven LOL

Bonnie - posted on 01/21/2011

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There is nothing wrong with helping out with simple things at a young age. My mom used to shelter my brother and I away even at an older age because she couldn't stand mess. It used to piss us off. I definitely don't want that for my kids.

Kate CP - posted on 01/21/2011

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My daughter is nearly five and she helps me out in the kitchen with simple tasks. She loves doing it and I know it's teaching her valuable life skills. I see nothing wrong with it.

Tara - posted on 01/21/2011

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Me too Lucy!!
We used to have a HUGE vegetable garden, an apple and pear orchard, free range chickens for both meat and eggs and a fully functioning maple sugar bush for syrup making, plus a strawberry, raspberry and rhubarb patch. It was lovely having the kids see all their food, growing living right there at their own home.
:)They know how to make jam, syrup, etc. etc.

[deleted account]

For a minute I thought I was crazy! I love seeing the differences in responses over here compared to the welcome page. =) According to someone over there, allowing any child under the age of 8 in a kitchen is a major fire hazard.

Lucy - posted on 01/21/2011

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My four year old daughter could make scrambled egg with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back! Both my little ones love cooking.

It's great to hear that you guys all love having your little ones in the kitchen with them. Cooking together can be a lovely, bonding activity, and it also teaches kids to try new foods and appreciate what they have, as they have put the work in.

We grow most of our own fruit and veg, and the kids love helping out on the allotment as well as the kitchen. I love that they have a hand in every step of the journey their food makes to arrive on their plates.

Lindsay - posted on 01/21/2011

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My kids have always been in the kitchen. There's no way to keep them out. My kitchen is large (24ft x30ft) and open so blocking them out hasn't ever really been an option. As soon as they first pulled a chair to the counter, they've been given something to do. Right now they are 5 (few weeks shy of 6) and 4. They can both crack eggs and wash fruits and veggies, pour and stir. My daughter (5) is now measuring out her own ingredients and can flip a sandwich cooking or stir hot things on the stove with me right there. My son doesn't do anything hot yet. They must go to the other side of the counter if I'm taking something in boiling water to the sink to drain. I have a big fear of accidentally spilling it so they know when I say "back up" to clear the area. They both help with unloading the dishwasher and put away the silverware and low cabinet things. And I'll take the help while I can get it. I'm sure before too long, they'll realize that this is another chore instead of a priviledge!

Tara - posted on 01/21/2011

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With my oldest child it was just he and I at home so I had him with me almost all the time, once he was old enough to stand on a chair pushed up to the counter (probably 15 months) he was allowed to help me cook and bake. I held his hand while he held the wooden spoon and we scrambled his eggs in the mornings. He knew what hot meant, we had a woodstove and he also knew to go to the other side of the kitchen when I opened the oven.
He never stopped his love of cooking and now at 17 is taking culinary arts classes at the local college and has two jobs in two restaurants on the line as a prep cook.
He bakes bread almost every day, from scratch.

So with the other five I did the same thing. Taught them to be respectful of the things that can hurt them in the kitchen, provided constant supervision and instruction and enjoyed teaching them all about cooking as a science, about nutrition, minerals versus vitamins, measurement and conversion, chemistry etc. etc.
At this point my 14 year old uses the oven and stove all the time, my almost 11 year old can make soup, spaghetti, fry an egg, make french toast, pancakes etc.
My 8 year old thinks she's a princess and shouldn't have to prepare anything herself these days, but she is capable, just not willing.
My 5 year old, loves to pour pancake batter and flip grill cheese etc.
I say be safe, teach boundaries and respect for things that are dangerous and provide adequate supervision and instruction.
:)

Joanna - posted on 01/21/2011

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Paige has been helping me since she was 2... Started simple with pouring things into a bowl and stirring, but now at 3 she will fetch me things from the fridge, knead bread, wash veggies, etc. She is not allowed to help withe the stove/oven though.

Plus at her preschool once a month all the kids prep and make their own snack. Yesterday they made tostadas.

[deleted account]

Ethan loves closing the drawer for me (we only have one), I open it he pushes it shut and then claps himself :-)

I have actually been thinking only this week we really must bake a cake together as whenever Ethan gets hold of a wooden spoon (or any spoon to be honest) he has to find a bowl, or bowl shaped thing and stir. I think he is ready to bake daddy a cake, I think we'll do it next week...

I let him in the kitchen with me when I am cooking as well I just make sure I pay attention to where he is, it is either that or I have to wait until my hubby is home form work to do anything (and tbh at the moment my back is hurting by then so I just want to rest).

Krista - posted on 01/21/2011

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I don't have much choice but to let my kid in the kitchen -- our house is open-concept. :) But he knows to stay away from the oven when it's hot. He loves helping mommy close the dishwasher and close the fridge or the freezer drawer. When I'm cooking, I give him a plastic bowl and a wooden spoon and he imitates me. And if I do have to take anything hot out of the oven, I usually just call to my husband to come keep an eye on him.

Stifler's - posted on 01/21/2011

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It's definitely a place for kids. There are heaps of pics of me and my sisters wiping up the plastic stuff standing on a chair at the sink at like 3. Mum always let us learn how to crack eggs and sift flour and grate carrots and cheese. Learning to cook is an important tool for when they move out of home and have their own kids, might as well start early.

[deleted account]

I love having my kids help in the kitchen but unfortunatly with the size i can only safely have 1 in their at a time so we don't cook so much together because i don't like the tantrums. They always get to smell the food and watch me though.

Kerrie - posted on 01/20/2011

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My sonis 2 and a half and loves to help. He likes to pour things in the pot and help stir. I let him help as long as I am there at his side making sure its safe. I think its important to teach them when its ok and when its not. And it makes them feel important and grown up when you let them help.

Charlie - posted on 01/20/2011

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Cooking is great with kids , it helps children devolp in so many ways from cognitive thinking , sensory development , creative thinking to just broadening their palate .

At our kindergarten we had 4 - 5 year olds making their own pizza's , sushi , scones , bread , salads they loved it and were more likely to try new things when they made it themselves.

Nicole - posted on 01/20/2011

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I think kids should be involved in food prep. It is a bonding, educational experience.

I can see taking a child into the kitchen with you when the child is 5 or 6. I would not go younger, but with careful supervision I can see other people safely letting younger children into the kitchen with them.

I do not think preschoolers are old enough to enter a kitchen unsupervised.

Charlie - posted on 01/20/2011

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Cooper helps me cook at the oven , since before he was two He will stir while I hold him , smell the aroma , help cut veggies with kids knives , pour and measure liquids .

The only thing he isnt aloud near is the oven when it is hot or hot oil ( or anything that spits oil ) but he has cooked on the stove plenty of times like pouring pancake batter or mixing scrambled eggs .

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