Kids in the kitchen – age appropriate kitchen skills

kids in the kitchen age appropriate tipsCooking with your child can be a fun, enlightening, and a valuable bonding experience for you and your impressionable child. If your child feels involved in the cooking process and has a positive experience you have an opportunity to teach them control and proper food safety in the kitchen.

An added bonus of cooking with your child is that it may help reduce the risk of them becoming picky eaters, since exposure to foods early in life teaches them to be more open to new and healthy foods.

If all this wasn’t enough reason to cook with your child there is research showing that children who learn to cook healthy foods at an early age, are more likely to continue a healthy lifestyle throughout their life.(1)

But is your child ready? The kitchen can be a minefield of safety concerns; scalding surfaces, sharp knives, breakable items etc. When considering your child’s safety in the kitchen, we want to share some suggestions. You, of course, are the best judge of what your child is ready to do, please use the below merely as guidelines.

How to include your child in the kitchen

  • Establish a child-free safety zone to protect your kids from hot surfaces, hot foods, and dangerous kitchen tools; keep them clear of stove tops, ovens and blenders.
  • Help your child feel stable by giving them a stepping stool if they can’t reach.
  • Always wash your hands before you begin cooking and between handling each food item.
  • Let them be messy. Yes, it’s a pain to clean, but isn’t that what makes it fun?

What not to do:

  • Don’t be overly critical. It can be discouraging.
  • Don’t get mad; let them learn from their mistakes.
  • Don’t rush. They are in the process of learning this new skill. You can’t expect them to be experts.

Suggested Age Appropriate Cooking Skills

Toddlers

When your child reaches around 18 months old you may find yourself with an enthusiastic want-to-be helper. This is a great opportunity to find something that makes them feel involved and at the same time keeps them out of your way.

Set your child up at a station where they are not within reach of any hazards like knives, hot liquids, etc.  They can wash vegetables and fruit; stir room temperature or cool ingredients; mash potatoes (make sure they’re cool enough); play with measuring cups and spoons.

Preschoolers

In addition to the above you can now include the cutting of soft ingredients with a solid plastic knife; mixing ingredients; picking grapes and tomatoes off the vine; kneading, rolling, shaping and cutting dough.

Kinder and First grade

Set the table, greasing and lining pans; actually measuring ingredients; rubbing in flour and butter with finger tips; snipping herbs; using a small knife (talk about basic knife safety first)

Second –  Fifth grade

Help plan the family meal. This is the perfect opportunity to discuss proportions of grain, vegetable, protein etc in a meal. With proper instruction your child may be ready to use a peeler, a handheld mixer, and even the stove. They can follow a simple recipe often at this point and can often be tasked with preparing salad.

Remember children should be supervised in the kitchen, even in middle school. Cooking together provides lots of opportunities to talk about food hygiene, math, following instructions, and motor skills.

  1. Yen Li Chu, Anna Farmer, Christina Fung, Stefan Kuhle, Kate E Storey, Paul J Veugelers. Involvement in home meal preparation is associated with food preference and self-efficacy among Canadian childrenPublic Health Nutrition, 2012; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S1368980012001218

Pint-sized patients receive an inspirational visit from a singing sensation

Pia Toscano visits TMC for Children 058TMC for Children had a warm welcome for singing sensation Pia Toscano. 

Toscano is in Tucson to perform with Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks at Divas in the Desert, the 2013 Gala held by the American Cancer Society, which is sponsored by TMC.  “I’m so in awe of both of them.  I’m thrilled and humbled to be a part of this event.  They are two very powerful women who have been through so much, yet are incredible,” Toscano said.  

Toscano made a name for herself as one of American Idol’s Season 10 frontrunners thanks to her powerhouse vocal ability.  She secured a spot in the Top 9, when she was suddenly eliminated – a move that shocked many fans. 

When Toscano was approached about performing at Divas in the Desert, she says she jumped at the opportunity.  The American Cancer Society is an organization she has always been passionate about.  “This is something that’s very close to home for me.  Some of my family members have had cancer, and one of my mentors passed away from cancer.  It has deeply affected my life.  I try to be a part of the American Cancer Society in any way possible,” she said.

Pia Toscano visits TMC for Children 038Toscano enjoyed visiting with patients and their families – chatting, laughing and reading books.  “Children are so inspiring,” she said.  “They’re smiling and happy, no matter what’s going on in their life.  It really puts your life into perspective.  I know that just making them smile is such an important part of the healing process. ”

Toscano’s debut album is set for release later this year.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461