At what age do you let your kids help you cook and clean up in the kitchen?

Paula - posted on 09/03/2009 ( 84 moms have responded )

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I let my 4 1/2 year old help me mix the ingredients in our cheeseburger meetloaf last week and he had a blast... plus i didnt have to get my hands messy LOL. Now he cant wait to help me mix things. (I made sre his hands were clean first of course, and let him mix up the hamburger with all the ingredients that I put in the bowl with his hands.)



What recipies did/do you let your kids help you with?

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Mine started helping out in the kitchen doing clean up around age 7- by that I mean washing or drying dishes. Helping with food prep was earlier. Actual cooking on the stove came a little later. Now as teens they can make anything, and it's a good thing as they are home more than I am. They cheered when we got a dishwasher... filling it up and putting away the clean dishes is a job we share but they do it more often than I do.

Besides my own kids, it's my job ( Family Nutrition Program of VA) to teach nutrition/cooking skills to limited resource adults and kids. Kids are more open to change and to tasting new things, surprisingly, than adults are. Kids who help prepare food are more likely to eat it.

Recipes I demonstrate and then supervise while the kids make them:

Veggie/Cheese omelets, Easy Spinach Lasagna (yes, they complained when they added the spinach, but I told them they would like it and they argued over the second helpings!) Chicken Quesadillas, Apples & Celery w/ Yogurt-Peanut Butter Dip, Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits, Baked Crispy Fish Fillets, Whole Grain Bread in a Bag, Pina Colada Smoothies, Baked Potato Planks, Easy Fruit Salad, Veggie Coins and Dip, and I'm sure more i don't recall at the moment.



There are some great books for Preschoolers that are about food:

DW the Picky Eater

Count on Pablo

The Giant Turnip

One Bean

The Hungry Caterpillar

Eating the Alphabet

Growing Vegetable Soup



Also there are some great food related media out there.

Songs to move to about healthy foods:

http://www.choosykids.com/CK2/av/

Lori - posted on 09/05/2009

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As soon as they can stand up!!!!!!!!! Put the ketchup in the fridge!!!!!!!!!!!! I see parents do it all ... when everyone works together you will be happier... have more time as a family... One dries, one washes, one cleans the table... My kids are all grown and they do it most times now without being told.. start them young!!!

Carolina - posted on 09/05/2009

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The younger the better. I have 3 kids the smallest one is always in the kitchen with me. Since I can remember he has beening helping me. He is 4, any little thing that he can help me with, he is happy. It also makes it easy for you, because they will eat what they have made :)

Nicole A. - posted on 09/04/2009

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well i think i started when my son was about 3 or 4. real simple things- hand me the sponge. some kids enjoy sweeping (pushing the broom), stirring something in a bowl, mashing things with the hands, washing off fruits or veggies.

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Barbara - posted on 08/01/2011

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By 3 years of age, my son was on a chair next to me and the mixing bowl, his favorite was helping mix bisquits and cookies, he enjoyed mixing the meat loaf, he always brought items to me from the pantry or frig and put everything back, he help pick up and throw trash away and helped wipe the table off. Regular little helper, just a matter of asking "do you want to help mommy? I need your help." I did not have/allow TV until he was 7, maybe that helped.

Barbara - posted on 08/01/2011

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By 3 years of age, my son was on a chair next to me and the mixing bowl, his favorite was helping mix bisquits and cookies, he enjoyed mixing the meat loaf, he always brought items to me from the pantry or frig and put everything back, he help pick up and throw trash away and helped wipe the table off. Regular little helper, just a matter of asking "do you want to help mommy? I need your help." I did not have/allow TV until he was 7, maybe that helped.

Renee - posted on 10/06/2009

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It's good to let them help when they want to. Or you could let them play videos or hang out on the net.
I have seven kids. All but one has grown and moved on. The last one was six years from the sixth child.
The last one can help you with anything related to the internet/texting/and games as oppose to the others. The others have their internet/txt/games but can do the every day things without much thought.
I know it is a tech world...as my baby girl points out: mom there's microwaves and instand baked meals today.

Christy - posted on 10/06/2009

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I acually started with my son at arround 5 and i started with meatloaf too. =) . He's now 14 and he can cook just about anything and he acually loves to do it. He told me he wants to be a chef. When he was i believe 9 he wanted to make something for school christmas party and he didn't want me to help him make it or even come up with an idea. So i asked him what he was going to make and he told me he was gonna make a cake with what i had in the cabnet. He ended up making a white cake (boxed) that he substituted the liquid for eggnog that i had in fridge. And I use the powdered whipped topping because you can flavor it how you like to he used that and used the eggnog in it as well. Needless to say by the time he got home it was almost gone but being the good son he is he saves me some ( about a spoon full) I was amazed that he came up with it and made it all by him self.

Carla - posted on 10/02/2009

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I let my kids help as soon as they wanted to, and they love helping create the food the family eats. It makes for great memories, it's a great learning experience, and it gets them away from the tv and video games.

Erin - posted on 10/01/2009

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I let my son help mix dry ingredients right after he turned 1, he is now 5 and runs into the kitchen to ask what he can help with. He is more apt to eat what we are having for dinner if he helps make it. He even looks thru recipe books with me and tells me what he would like to try.

Carmen - posted on 09/29/2009

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Was always terrified they'd burn themselves when cooking so only rarely do I let them in which I suppose is more to do with my fear than them. They are now 9 and 7 so after reading the posts below I think I'll give it a go and see what happens...

Lena - posted on 09/28/2009

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I started letting my kids help me when they were 2 yrs old. of course, it was just adding ingredients & small clean up jobs, but they loved it. Now, My son is 11 & my daughter is 10. They both take turns doing dishes & get one night a wk off. As far as cooking goes, everynight, they take turns on who is helping me in the kitchen..the other one cleans up afterwards. Their nights off, they cook. My daughter will make French Toast or Scrambled eggs & Toast. My son will cook Pizzas, Spaghetti or Shake N Bake Pork Chops. My son cooks more of the harder things to make, since he is ALOT taller then my daughter is & ALOT more body size. He is 5'3" & weighs 125 lbs. She is 4'4" & weighs 78 lbs. Since she can't really see all the burners on the stove or reach into the oven, we have to be careful with her. Starting them at young ages, helped me out alot with cooking & cleaning up after everyone & I don't get the attitude when it's their turns to do things.

Jessica - posted on 09/28/2009

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hi my kids r 4 and 8 and they love helping me cook and clean, i take the help now b 4 they get old enaf to realize it sucks helping lol

[deleted account]

My little girl is 2 and a half, and she loves to help in the kitchen whenever possible. She likes to *help* stir and mix things, especially. I think it makes her feel very grown up and proud of herself for helping me out. One time she even helped my mom make birthday pies for my brother :-)

Jennifer - posted on 09/23/2009

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The earlier the better they tend to eat better too when they help u in the kitchen ;] it makes them feel special As well...I like to messure every thing out and let them put them all together also let them help u get the stuff out of the shelfs and refrigerater ect. if old enough :] its nice bonding time too and then u dont have to make sure there not getting into stuff why your trying to cook cuase there helping u ;]

Cristina - posted on 09/22/2009

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My 6 1/2 year old gets her love of cooking at an early age from her stepfather. He went to school for it and does most of the cooking. She helps us with all kinds of cooking and cleaning in the kitchen. I think teaching kids at an early age to cook will help them feel more independant as they get older.

Jennifer - posted on 09/22/2009

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My girl is 6 and she went to a cooking class with her aunt and learned how to make speggetti and meatballs...she can make it pretty much by herself. I let her do alot, I just watch very close. You can pretty much let your kids put ingredients into bowls or whatever just as long as you messure it out first.

[deleted account]

I let my 2 and 4 year olds me in kitchen, they love it and we bake atleast one thing everyweek because to them its a treat and its a good time to just spend some time. Also teaches them cooking skills and new motor skills. They both know how to clear their plates and scrape them off into the bin and put them in the sink and do so for every meal. My youngest is very enthusiastic in helping.

Rowana - posted on 09/21/2009

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My 4 and 6 yr. olds set the table, dry and unload dishes from the dishwasher, wipe the table, sweep the dining room floor, help with stirring food and dumping the amounts into the bowl when baking. I think its good to get them helping early on to create a love for cooking and working.

[deleted account]

Dont forget to teach him to wash the dishes !!!!!!! lol......my kids helped me with everything that could be stirred....lol....my kids especially loved things being made in the blender...like banana smoothies or a milk shake.... If your even seasoning chicken with a few seasons let him hand you each one...and let him cover it with the foil etc..its so easy to please a 4 year old in the kitchen....I use to let my kids put the clothes in the washer after i sorted them of corse.... and i would let them pour the measured soap into washer..and pull out the button to wash..... but one bit of advice id keep the soap out of reach..my son decided to pour it all in the washer one day......lol.. good luck with the little guy

Samantha - posted on 09/20/2009

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Let them help with anything!! Its all fun and games with them. My youngest daughter wants to cook all the time. However my teens and older can't stand the kitchen. I love her help it givces us more bonding time as well!!

Novella - posted on 09/16/2009

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my granddaughter is 3 and she loves to help me in the kitchen all the time and can not wait until she can help again and my grandson helps also he is 5 and they both help set the table they take turns every other night.

they also clean the table every night.

I feel if you start early then thay will learn to do what they should.

the other night we all maid stuffed meat balls.

the kids loved it.

here is the recipie.

two to three pounds of hamburg

one package of onion soup mix

and two eggs

in a bowl then mix

then add your bread crumbs about 1/2 cup or so and one tablespoon full of

beef brooth.

mix well get some small mozzarella balls also called

fior di lette ciligine fresh mozzarella balls

take your mix by hand and put a dent in it and place a ball in it and form into a ball around the cheese place in a bakeing pan and bake for 30 to 40 mins at 350

enjoy with your best sauce or just as they are enjoy.

novella

Linda - posted on 09/15/2009

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the younger the better let them help! just teach them to clean up after themselves! they love it! my girls are teenagers & get ther own food!

Melanie - posted on 09/11/2009

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It is great when they help out but take it from me make a game of helping you clean up. THey need to know if we make a mess we clean it up.

Michelle - posted on 09/11/2009

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My kids started with helping me with cookies when they were 5 and doing dishes with Mom when they were 6 years old.

Renee - posted on 09/11/2009

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I don't usually let them help me but I have on occasion let them help me with shake n bake and cake mixing. As far as cleaning up goes I make them put all their dishes in the sink and clean up the mess on the floor. My kids are 5 yrs, 4 yrs and 13 yrs. The 13 yr old don't want to much but when he does he helps me in the kitchen he helped me with breakfast last weekend but in the middle of it he walked away like he really didn't want to do anything.

Marguerite - posted on 09/11/2009

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My girls help do the shopping as well as the cooking. We all work together, and sometimes I let my 7 year old daughter make simple layered casseroles which I then put in the oven. It makes them feel important and gives a few minutes to put dishes away.

Shea - posted on 09/11/2009

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OMG I think that's wonderful and good for you and your little helper! my neice and little cousin are both around the same age as your son and I love to make brownies with them. Oh also eggs anyway lol. They love to crack the eggs. I'm repeating softly 'easy" 'easy" the whole time. lmbo left over taco meat tortillas and scrambled eggs make a wonderful breakfast taco just add cheese if you please lol..(I'm so corny) anyway it's kid friendly and good!

Brandy - posted on 09/10/2009

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My 11 year old usually sets the table and gets whatever condiments we need for the evening. My 2 year old also helps with that as well. My 2 oldest are girls and my 11 year old has been helping in the kitchen since she was around 2 years old. We cook together (dinner and sweet treats) and she also has dishes nightly. That is her one and only chore except for keeping her room clean. We make a lot of homeade things such as playdough and treats together too. My 1 year old just likes to be in the kitchen and grab whatever might fall on the floor right now. lol

Angela - posted on 09/10/2009

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Kids are like sponges they learn everything so fast anything that they can safely do let them do keep them away from grease and clean hands after handling raw meats and watch they dont eat it before its cooked lol you may have afuture cook on your hands and a future useful husband or wife for someone one day :D

Michelle - posted on 09/10/2009

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I let mine help as soon as they were big enough to reach the counter (with the help of a stool...lol) My son is 13 now and loves to cook...and he makes the BEST scrambled eggs:)

Jenn - posted on 09/10/2009

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My kids are aged 3 and 6 and I let them help me in the kitchen all the time! They love to measure the ingredients and even get their hands dirty to mix the meatloaf. It helps them bond with you in the kitchen and helps build their self-confidence in knowing that they can make dinner, too, and they're good at it. (That is, as long as you don't mind cleaning up after them!)

Stephanie - posted on 09/10/2009

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as soon as they can understand the dangers of HOT. even just helping in measuring or stirring its a great bonding experience and teaches them math,teamwork and of course how to cook.i started cooking with my son when he was about two.

Dayshauna - posted on 09/10/2009

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that's awesome i let my daughter start helping me about the age of 6 she is ten now and scrambling her own eggs!!!

Valerie - posted on 09/10/2009

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I have always let my children and foster children start around the age of 2. I let them dump the ingredients in the bowls. I teach them to clean the table right after supper. I let them stand at the sink to help rinse the dishes. So what if you get a little water on the floor or on you. We all dry off and you can always wipe up the floor. Even if they don't get any dishes rinsed at least they start to know it's ok for them to be in the kitchen with you and they think they have helped. And they have because they usually make you laugh when they are doing something to help.

Jennifer - posted on 09/10/2009

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My son started helping clean up as soon as he started asking, which was at 3. He started helping mix things and measure things at 3-1/2, I think, when he started asking. Now he's 5-1/2 and helps in the kitchen whenever he can. :)

Shona - posted on 09/10/2009

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My 6 year old has been helping me measure for baking and cooking for the last 2 years and over the last 6 months has been cracking eggs for me. Just last week, he wanted to start washing the dishes, so I am teaching him about front and back of plates and bowls and how to rinse them (we have a dishwasher, but he loves to do this) My 2 year old is a bit busy and also wants to help lately, so I get her to set the table and she really enjoys this.

Karen - posted on 09/10/2009

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My kids started helping cook as young as two and three.

My 5 year old sets table etc and at 7 they started cleaning dinnner dishes etc. Granted you have to help out when done so it meets your expectations. But i think it is healthy and good for kids to learn and do chores.

Cristhiane - posted on 09/09/2009

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My oldest are 4 and 6 and they LOVE to help with making different things, mixing the mac cheese, pudding, pb&j, simple stuff, also when we bake, it works as a math lesson too!. :)

Stephanie - posted on 09/09/2009

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my 10 year old can cook by himself and my 3 and 2 year old help mix stuff up and put it in the dish i do not let them get near the stove. I think it is up to how you feel and what your willing to let him help with.

Charbeth - posted on 09/09/2009

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I let me sons and my neice help me when they show interest. I just make sure to explain that it is very important to be careful and safe and to explain how to do so. Of course I do not leave them alone/unattended. They love to help! My youngest son is 10 and he loves to make his own omelet and grilled cheese sandwiches. Then he shows off to his friends and asks if he can cook something for them. They are usually amazed that he is allowed to do so.

Tracy - posted on 09/09/2009

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My 5 year old is already starting to help me clean the kitchen and he helps with baking. My 11 year old started cooking pancakes and cakes at age 9, and we are about to start him on really using the top range now like eggs hotdogs simple things.

Kelly - posted on 09/09/2009

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My daughter has helped me in different ways since she was 3. Just mixing stuff together at first. Now that she is 6, she helps me measure, mix, etc. Sometimes (depending on what it is) I will let her help me stir something on the stove (with constant supervision though!). She loves helping me cook! Its great Mommy/Daughter time too and she learns how to measure, etc! have fun with it too! She helps me make spaghetti and meatballs ( I make my own sauce), cake, meatloaf, etc.

Rebecca - posted on 09/09/2009

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My children are 6 and 2. Both of them like to help cook and bake. I started when they showed interest. That was about 1 and 1/2.

Amanda - posted on 09/09/2009

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my girls at that age loved kneading the pizza dough, any baking thing they can add ingredients.....like some cookie recipes i will take the amount needed for chocolate chips, or raisins, etc. then I would tell them to pick from the items that can be added in this category, and split the amount needed by the number of choices picked.

LOL one time i ended up with, macademian nut, raisin, sprinkles, toffee, and carob chip cookies.

CINDY - posted on 09/08/2009

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as soon as they show interest. It's never too early. Just modify it according to their age. The sooner they start learning the better!

Brandi - posted on 09/08/2009

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I say anything that involves opening cans and pouring them in. They love that kind of helping. I have a Taco Soup recipe that is actually a Weight Watchers recipe and all it involves is browning hamburger meat then opening cans and pouring them in. My son has helped me with this recipe since he was about 4 and now he cooks it on his own (with my supervision of course). It makes him feel really good that he can cook and feed us.

1lb hamburger meat (brown)

1/2 half onion (brown with meat)

then add and bring to a boil for 15 min the remaining ingredients

1 package ranch dressing mix (powder)

1 package taco seasoning

2 cans black beans

2 cans corn

2 cans Rotel tomatoes (tomatoes with chilies)

1 large can crushed tomatoes

1 can water (as needed)



that is it and kids love it. It will make a large dutch oven full of soup and it freezes really good. ENJOY!

Heather - posted on 09/08/2009

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My boys both started helping around 3 years. Now at 7 and 4 they help cook, do the dishes and clean the table! And they really like helping mom. They aren't so fond of the dishes unless I'm the washer, but they love mopping the kitchen floor.

Christine - posted on 09/08/2009

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I let my 3 years old help me in the kitchen all the time. He makes a huge mess sometimes then I have to teach hime how to clean it up. He has to learn somehow, and it's my job to teach him.

Virginia - posted on 09/08/2009

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as soon as they were old enough to show interest! step stools are great! unfortunatly my 3rd daughter (now 23)still hasnt shown much interest.lol

Anastasia - posted on 09/08/2009

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All my kids, I have 4 age 7, 5, 3, 19mths. They all help in the kitchen when we mix/bake cookies, breads etc.. My 3yr old & 19mth old also help clean up after dinner. When we are done I ask them to please put there plates(paper) into the garbage can and put the utensils into the sink. My 3 yr old can reach but the youngest one does make the attempt and I lift him and he drops it in the sink, and they clap and smile. That's how I know they are enjoying themselves and it also starts to teach them responsibility.

Monica - posted on 09/08/2009

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I allow my sons to help with almost everything. My 14 yr old can cook basic meals like spaghetti, Hamburger Helpers, etc. My 8 yr old likes to cook his ramen noodles and make his sandwiches. Whenever I bake a pie, they always look forward to using the excess dough. They also enjoy rolling cookie dough to make cookies. I try to make cooking enjoyable for them so when they grow up it won't feel like a chore.

Sara - posted on 09/07/2009

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I have two girls, 3 yrs and just shy of 8 years. They both love to help! Sometimes it gets a little crazy but they love it! The older one has even gotten to the point of telling me what seasonings are needed, like the other day, we made meatballs in sauce. She took a test taste and said..."There is something missing...lemme think...ahh yes garlic, it needs more garlic." When asked if it should be garlic powder or fresh through the garlic press she declared that it should be fresh garlic. That was my favorite Spaghetti and meat ball dinner ever! It also helps to teach kids math skills, when we makes something with exact measurements...say 3/4 cup of flour. I hand her the 1/4 measuring cup and she has to figure out how many to use to get 3/4 of a cup. Learning is always more fun when you don't know your learning :) The little one loves to help empty the dishwasher (I always make sure to remove anything dangerous before I let her help). She feels like a big girl and gets excited because she is helping.

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