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Make Food a Family Affair

20 April 2010 35 Comments

I love to cook, and thankfully in my house I have many assistants. From mixing batter to cracking eggs, my kids want to be where the action is, and in our house much of the day is spent in the kitchen. While in the beginning I wasn’t too thrilled with so many little hands in the kitchen, over time I have come to see the benefits from involving my kids in making meals.

Cooking is a fun way to “do school.” Measuring teaches counting and fractions. Using a recipe reinforces reading and following directions. For older kids, learning how ingredients interact with one another is a great science lesson. Cooking ethnic foods is a great way to introduce your child to new and different cultures.

Cooking can tame a picky eater. Many children go through a picky phase when they are younger. Involving them in the meal planning, shopping, and cooking is a great way to convince them to try something new. Most kids are willing to at least try their own food creations.

Food is a great way to teach your children to serve. How many times have we made a meal for a family who just had surgery or a baby? Kids can learn at a young age that making a meal is a simple and inexpensive way to bless others. Even if we have few resources, the gift of food is a great way to serve.

Cooking is a great way to spend time together. Even if they are too young to be much help, pull the high chair into the kitchen and give them some measuring spoons and other plastic kitchen items to play with while you cook. This will get them use to being in the kitchen. Some of the best conversations happen when you are standing beside your child working together, especially boys who don’t always like face to face conversations.

Teaching your child to cook is an investment in their future. Eating out is expensive, yet almost a necessity for many adults who lack basic cooking skills. A young adult who knows their way around the kitchen has learned an invaluable life skill. You don’t often hear people complain that they married a good cook!

I realize that having extra hands in the kitchen is not always the most efficient way to get things done. But, the memories made and lessons learn far outweigh the inconvenience of a few egg shells in the cookie dough.

Toni is a wife, mom, blogger and member of the BornFree Mom Panel.

Contest! In the comments, share how do you cook with baby. While he or she is sleeping? With baby in the highchair? In a sling?

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  • Omni Hampton said:

    I normally cok while baby is awake. The way I do it is put thmin their swings bring in the doorway of the kitchen and cook. This worked for my first two kids and works so far now with the 1 month old. I notice my kids think as long as they cansee me they are fine.

  • Julie A. said:

    My baby is on solids as he is 7 months old, so I put him in his jumperoo right by the kitchen and he watches me make all his baby food in my Vitamix. He gets all excited when I turn it on and he hears the sound, so cute:) I can’t wait for when he can actually help me make his food!

  • Jill V said:

    Now that my son is almost 3 he likes to help me in the kitchen. Pouring, stirring. I love it.

  • Make Food a Family Affair | The Happy Housewife™ said:

    [...] talking about kids in the kitchen on the BornFree Mom site today. Do your kids participate in cooking? In our home cooking is a family [...]

  • Christine McKenzie said:

    I have a one year old son (I can’t believe he’s already 1!) and we do everything together. I want him to be part of everything we do versus ‘starting something’ when we think he’s old enough to understand it. This includes cooking. I have made all his food from day one (except things like oatmeal and puffs, I’m not THAT good) and always do it while he is in the kitchen with me. He has a Chicco portable seat/highchair that gets hooked onto the island so he can see everything start to finish, and then we reap the benefits of ‘our’ hard labor together. He especially likes steamed long cut carrots as he likes to feed himself anytime he can. :)

  • Wendy said:

    I put my 5 month old in her high chair…she knows what it means already! =)

  • marci said:

    Each of my kids have there own apron, and they help anyway they can when we make our meals. Somenights they set the table, others they help me cook whatever we are having and other times they help me to think up new recipes that even my pickiest eater will enjoy.

  • Laura Mc. said:

    My two year old daughter loves to paticipate in the kitchen! Just about every dinner, Lydia has “helped” in some way;)

  • Elizabeth Smith said:

    I adore cooking and baking. I find it so soothing and, while all my children love to help me, my oldest son (9) really loves it! I was so pleased when he put a cookbook on his Christmas list last year. One wish I was more than happy to grant! We got him a cookbook for kids with recipes from around the world so we learn about different cultures and areas as we cook from it and he is so proud when he picks and makes dinner! Next up is a pavlova (dessert from Australia). :)

  • Elizabeth Smith said:

    I shared!

  • Mel1010 said:


  • Tabitha said:

    My daughter isn’t big enough (4 months) to help in the kitchen, although I remember I loved to help my mom and I see my niece in the kitchen, she loves it! Shes almost 5

  • ashley said:

    I always have my kids in the kitchen with me, usually my 10 month old is on the ground playing with spoons and bowls while my 2.5 year old is on the stool helping out!

  • Jessica E said:

    I love having my children in the kitchen helping. My youngest is not old enough yet but I cannot wait for the day when we can all be in there cooking/baking together.

  • Joyce Purcell said:

    My son loves to be in the kitchen while my husband and I cook. My husband loves to give the baby little tastes of things to see what kind of face our 5 month old makes. My little sister and my nephew (both 5 years old; long story) are so picky and I am determined to get my son involved when he is old enough so he will be as adventurous with food as his father and I are. I have noticed that when the kids get in the kitchen and cook that they are so proud of what they have made. My little sister and I are waiting for cupcakes to cool so we can frost them and she can take them to school for her birthday tomorrow. She sat in front of the oven for 18 minutes while the cupcakes baked and wanted to frost them straight out of the oven. So cute!

  • Joyce Purcell said:

    I shared too!

  • Elizabeth Keller said:

    I was in fact, just pondering over whether I should go to the grocery store or not. Make dinner at home, or take everyone out. Eat healthy and save money, or save time and no-clean up. Ahhhhh! After reading this, I may spend more efforts to cook at home WITH everyone helping. We’ve got a Learning Tower at home which is encouraging them to want to help in the kitchen also. Well, here we go! Off to the grocery store. Going to get a head start on our family-friendly dinners!

  • Yesica Bravo said:

    I put my 3 months old either in his swing, bumbo or chair right in front of me. As long as he can see me he is fine. I also dance for him to keep him entertained. He thinks it’s hilarious : )

  • Sarah said:

    My daughter loves to “help” while I cook. Until I find a better, safer method, she stands up on a chair next to me. She gets to stir, pour ingredients in the bowl, and of course be my taste tester!!!

  • Larissa Bovenzi said:

    My 8 year old stepson and my 2 year old love to sit on the counter and help cook. Saturday mmorning is pancake breakfast day and the boys love to mix food coloring into the batter to make “swirly pancakes”. I put my 1 year old and 2 month old twins in bouncy seats and swings in and around the kitchen to watch. It gets VERY crowded thats for darn sure:)I need a bigger kitchen! LOL.

  • Julianne said:

    My 10 month old is always on the go, but when I’m cooking, he always sticks around to see what he might get! When he was younger and immobile, he preferred the sling while I was cooking–I just had to watch out for hot stuff!

  • Leslie S said:

    My 2 yr old loves to help, be it stirring, pouring, etc. He also likes to bang on pots and pans and “make” his own dinner!

  • Amanda Bosque said:

    My son is 2 and we have started letting him help in the kitchen. He loves to watch Mommy cook already. Now I let him bring things to me that he can and he stirs batter and loves that!

  • Ashlee H said:

    I have a small kitchen and not a lot of bodies can be in it at once! I set Liam’s bouncer ontop of the washer and I cook with him right near by! He enjoys it — espeically when the washer is on :)

  • Ashley P said:

    I can’t wait until my baby can help me in the kitchen. Until then, he just likes to watch Mama

  • angela tuttle said:

    i cook with my daughter in her high chair in the kitchen and i give her some things to play with while i cook and talk to her i also have the help of my 3 year old son who loves to cook and really enjoys learning the different measuring amounts. My favorite time in the kitchen is when im making baby food (i make all my own baby food) and my 3 year old gets to help by pressing the buttons on the food processor, he really feels like he’s helping to feed his sister something he desperately wants to do but cant because i breast feed and he is just too young to spoon feed her!

  • Myha Nguyen said:

    I normally cook when my baby is sleeping. If he wakes up, I put him in the high chair and fill his tray with finger snacks to keep him busy. I can usually finish cooking and start cleaning befoe he starts crying. I let him cry the rest of the time while finishing the dishes and cleaning up!

  • kristen said:

    Well honestly I have been slacking on the meals but because she is going to be eating our food in no time I have been getting in to cooking with her in her excersaucer and I sing and dance to her as I cook and she loves it!!!!! Also I put her in her jolly jumper and she loves it!!!!!

  • kristen said:

    I shared!!

  • Nastassia Escobar said:

    My oldest son is always wanting to help so i tell him to get me things from the frig or pantry… then if i have something to stir i let him do that… he is 3 so at times he can be a big help… with my 2 weeks old baby if my husband isn’t around i put him in his swing in the kitchen and he sit and looks around… most of the time he is awake… cooking brings the family together… my husband loves to cook as well so we help out each other a lot and bring the kids into the kitchen to help or watch…

  • Megan Franco said:

    Well, right now my baby has a lot of say in what I eat or cook :) He is not born yet. But my mom used to assign us all a night of the week when we would either cook the meal or help her cook it. We all learned our basic cooking skills. Even my brother who hated every step of the way at least knows how to make macaroni and cheese. One fun thing we used to do was, when it was our turn to make dinner, we would play restaurant. One of us was the cook, one of us was the waiter, one took care of drinks, etc… It was really fun.

  • Amie said:

    I used to try cooking with baby in carrier Now it’s one in high chair and one in carrier. And the other two at the table.

  • Kelly Sanderson said:

    My 2 year old daughter loves to help so she has her step stool and I put our 6 month old in the high chair and he plays and listens to us talk as we cook! They love it!

  • Kelly Sanderson said:

    I shared!

  • Meghan Battani said:

    I usually put my son in his highchair and then I cook with him around… he loves to watch me cook :) !! He loves when I hold him too so he can see what is going on!

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