7 Secrets to Get Your Kids to Help in the Kitchen

Last updated 05/9/2020 |

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Jackjack has been my kitchen buddy for many years now. He's been chopping, mixing, and mess-making with me since he was about 3.

While there isn't a magic potion to get your kids helping in the kitchen, there are many things you can do that will help. Here are just a few:

1. Get ready for the job.
A safe, no-skid stepstool is great for bringing kids up to where the action is. An apron doesn't hurt, either. Toddlers can watch/help with this clever gizmo called a "kitchen helper."

2. Explain the rules.
Cooking projects always start with the requirement, "Wash your hands with soap." I didn't realize that I'd have to specify the use of soap until I had a little boy. Ahem.

3. Provide safe tools.
You don't want to spend the whole time hovering over your Iron Chef, and they don't want it either. Set them up for safety and success with butter knives, whisks, and maybe a rolling pin. (Be prepared for unorthodox rolling pin techniques.)
7 Secrets to Get Your Kids to Help in the Kitchen: BrownThumbMama.com

4. Make age-appropriate recipes.
Now is not the time to try a souffle or bust out the hand torch for creme brulee. Try strawberry freezer jam and fresh salsa instead of water-bath canning. There's just too much potential for disaster with a giant pot of water on the stove.

5. Let them help.
Try not to panic over the way your kitchen will look when you're done. Little ones can hold the measuring cup and pour ingredients into the bowl. You will hear about it if you try to help them!
7 Secrets to Get Your Kids to Help in the Kitchen: BrownThumbMama.com

When they get a little older, they can use cool gizmos like a crinkle cutter for veggies and an egg slicer for mushrooms and strawberries.

6. Expect and encourage snacking.
You've come so far--don't say no just when things are getting good! Depending on how "munchy" your kids are, you might need to buy twice as much fruit or veggies as the recipe calls for. I expected this with fruit, but I was shocked when Jackjack ate a pile of raw green beans as they came out of the frencher-slicer-thingy.

7. Request, don't require.
I ask Jackjack to help cook, I don't make him do it. Nor do I position it as a drudgery or a punishment. This simple courtesy goes a long way! A little bit of silliness while we work helps as well.

How do you get your kids in the kitchen? Share with us in the comments!

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Pam

Hi, I’m Pam! I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey, and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here, and please check out the resources in my Natural Living Shop!

10 Comments

  1. Danna on December 24, 2014 at 8:32 am

    My kids helped ‘do the dishes’ when they were old enough to stand at the sink. I would just put the handles of a grocery bag around their arms and let it hang in front of them like an apron to keep the water in the sink. They always got to ‘mix’ at the slide out cutting board. I would get a stool for the littles and pull out the drawer and put a large cutting board on it for the taller ones. The rule in the kitchen was always ‘Slow and easy in the kitchen’. That rule applied to everything from stirring to mixing to flipping. They still say it today and they are all grown up.

  2. Jennifer @ Every Breath I Take on July 16, 2013 at 2:23 am

    Great ideas! I’m planning to feature this post in tomorrow’s Tuesday Baby Link Up!

  3. I Thought I Knew Mama on July 16, 2013 at 12:27 am

    Great advice! We have a learning tower, so my son has been safely standing at the counter and helping us in the kitchen since he was a year and a half 😉

    Thanks for linking up at The Tuesday Baby Link Up!

  4. Holly Lefevre (504 Main) on August 23, 2012 at 6:57 am

    I love having my kids help me in the kitchen…these are great tips for getting others started on that! And a few tips I could pick up too!

  5. Patty @ Coming Up Roses on August 18, 2012 at 11:17 am

    I love the photos ~ what a ham you have! We love to cook together and my little one even goes to my aunt’s house once a month to learn our “family” recipes!

  6. Jacqueline@ Deeprootsathome.com on August 10, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    This is great! It is one of the areas I feel I didn’t do with joy! Thank you for sharing and may other Mamas see the potential for their young men!! may God bless you and your dear family!
    Warmly,
    Jacqueline

  7. Momma and the boys living on a budget on August 9, 2012 at 9:40 am

    hello please join us on the Thrifty Thursday linkup from Momma and the boys http://budgetdial.blogspot.com/2012/08/thrifty-thursday-rewind-august-9th.html

  8. Erin on August 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Nice!!

  9. Kathy on August 2, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Z-man cracks eggs almost as well as I do, uses the electric hand-mixer to beat eggs whites stiff, and carefully, carefully puts things in and takes them out of the oven. There’s a great on-line Montessori store that has kid-size pot holders (the ones that are like gloves) that are actually functional. Love to see someone else who let her three-year old into the kitchen!

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Pam

Hi, I'm Pam!

I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here! Learn more about me.

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