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Categories > Children’s Health > Growth and development

Kids in the kitchen

Do your children frown at the thought of trying something new? Why not get them to cook with you? If kids make something themselves, they are more likely to eat it. And if you get them involved in the process from the get-go—from menu planning to serving the food—they are bound to make healthy food choices.

  • Start by looking at the food pyramid and making low-fat and low-calorie selections.
  • When choosing food preparation tasks, keep them age appropriate. Use common sense: Don’t give your kindergartner a knife to slice a carrot. But he or she can wash the lettuce. Don’t let your first-grader take a heavy and hot lasagna from the oven. Instead, he or she can open the oven door.
  • Even if your children aren’t school age, they can still help in the kitchen. Show preschoolers how to measure wet and dry ingredients, explaining terms like “cup” or “tablespoon.” They can help pour the ingredients into the bowl and stir them with a wooden spoon or a fork.
  • Show your child the importance of safety when cooking. Use potholders when carrying hot dishes, and turn off the oven and burners when you’re finished.
  • School-age children can set the table, putting out the napkins, cups and bowls. They can carry silverware and serving utensils to the table (don’t let the little ones carry knives).
  • And don’t forget about cleanup. Have them use the handheld vacuum or broom to mop up floor spills. Let them wipe the countertop with a dish or paper towel. Older kids can wash dishes and load them into the dishwasher.