Age-Appropriate Cooking for Kids

Girl And Mother CookingHaving Kids Help You Cook

Kids love helping nannies bake and cook. That is why I post recipes I make for and with my Nanny Kids on Fridays on our Cooking with Kids on column our blog.

Little ones can gather ingredients, help measure, and mix at a very young age. Children’s competency at cooking can increase slowly as they age. When cooking or baking with children make sure kids wash their hands before helping. Baking can get messy, but that is part of the fun. Most importantly, nannies must be vigilant about safety. When working at a counter use a stable stool that is about one foot above the floor. Wait until children are older before allowing them to try peeling veggies, cutting with knives, or cooking on the stove.

The earlier children start cooking, the better they will be able to care for themselves. Cooking is not only a fun science experiment but an essential life skill.

Listed below are some tasks most kids can accomplish while cooking and baking by age:

Age-Appropriate Tasks 2 to 3

Baked goods tend to be fun to make with toddlers. Have them mix all the ingredients and they will love eating the resulting cookies, muffins, and cupcakes. Two- and three-year-old children can also do the following:

Wash produce
Tear leafy greens
Spin lettuce
Break broccoli and cauliflower into pieces
Rinse and drain beans
Brush vegetables with oil with a pastry brush
Knead dough
Shake liquids like salad dressing
Spread butter or cream cheese with a dull knife
Whisk, with adult assistance
Crack and egg, with adult assistance
Mix and pour ingredients, with adult assistance
Carry ingredients from pantry or fridge to counter
Wipe counters
Throw things in garbage

Age-Appropriate Tasks 4 to 6

As well as making baked treats young children like making dips, hummus, guacamole, granola, parfaits with fruit and nut toppings, salads, dressings, and mashed potatoes. Four- to six-year-old children can also accomplish the following tasks:

Stir and mix ingredients
Peel oranges, grapefruits, and hard-boiled eggs
Juice lemons and limes
Mash bananas, beans, or cooled boiled potatoes
Empty bowl with a spatula
Decorate with pastry bag
Grease a baking pan
Measure ingredients, with adult assistance
Use a mixer, with assistance
Turn the blender on and off, with assistance
Set the table
Fill the dishwasher, put in soap, and push start
Turn on kitchen timer
Early knife skills

Age-Appropriate Tasks 7 to 9

Monitor children’s skills to ensure they can cook safely as you introduce them to the stove. Begin with simple recipes like oatmeal and scrambled eggs that don’t require big pots of boiling water or hot oil then slowly increase responsibilities as kids master easier skills. Teach older kids to roll up their sleeves and pull back their hair when cooking. Remind them to stand back from the stove, never put towels on stove, and how to use hot pads safely. Kids will enjoy making smoothies, baked goods, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, steamed vegetables, soups, sauces, and pancakes. Seven- to nine-year-old children should also try the following tasks:

Form meat patties
Open a can with a manual can opener
Grate cheese
Peel produce with a hand peeler
Zest a lemon
Place food onto skewers
Serve soup into bowls with a ladle
Steam vegetables
Roast vegetables on a cookie sheet
Fill and use blender
Plate dinner
Put away groceries
Load and unload dishwasher
Continue knife skills

Age-Appropriate Tasks 9 to 12

Tweens can make an entire meal from choosing a recipes, making recipes, to serving the meal. Stay in the kitchen until the child has exhibited competence and an understanding of kitchen safety. Practice knife skills such as how to chop, dice, and mince. Show them how to make a grocery list. Teach them about raw food safety such as salmonella for chicken and eggs and how to store cooked foods. Some tweens might enjoy attending cooking camps and taking age-appropriate cooking classes.


Super Food Cards by Seidenberg

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