Getting kids into the kitchen to help with cooking has tons of benefits for the whole family. It helps young children work on their motor skills, and gives older kids the chance to learn science and math in a fun and engaging way. It also gives parents the opportunity to model healthy behaviors and teach children about where foods come from and how to prepare them! Just be sure to be mindful of kitchen safety and use your best judgement to decide if and when your kids are ready for more challenging tasks in the kitchen.


While babies can’t exactly “help”, having them in the kitchen during food preparation can still be beneficial!

  • Smelling new foods helps with sensory integration
  • Watching parents move around the kitchen can help with visual tracking
  • Hearing parents explain and talk through recipes encourages communication development



For toddlers, start small and keep it fun! Plan for about a 10 minute cooking activity to keep them engaged.  They can help:

  • Rinse off fruits and vegetables
  • Work on basic math skills by counting amount of an ingredient you need
  • Sprinkle cheese, breadcrumbs and/or seasonings onto a dish
  • Put items that you are finished with in the sink or the trash


School Age Children:

While they still need supervision, school-aged children can often follow simple recipes and begin to learn to use the oven or stove. They can:

  • Learn to crack eggs
  • Wipe down the dinner table and counter
  • Set the table
  • Help measure ingredients
  • Stir and mix ingredients together


Tweens and Teens:

Older kids can often prepare more complex recipes and may enjoy improving in the kitchen.

  • Give them a portion of your grocery list to find in the store
  • Learn about the science of cooking and what happens to ingredients when you apply heat or cold
  • Practice math skills by doubling or reducing a recipe, and using fractions


Cooking with kids may seem daunting at first, but with some simple prep work and the right expectations, sharing time in the kitchen with kids can be a bonding experience that the whole family enjoys, while building skills to last a lifetime!


Amanda Buthmann MS, RD is a pediatric and family nutritionist at Lara Metz Nutrition in NYC. For more information contact her at, or visit

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