Let Your Preschooler Help You Cook
It's a wonderful idea to get kids involved in the kitchen as soon as you're comfortable with some extra helping hands. Their participation gives them a better understanding about all the various foods they can enjoy, but it can also promote creativity and boost their developing motor skills, and even help them learn about math.
Prior to the little ones joining in on the culinary fun, a few food-safety basics should be discussed: washing hands before beginning, keeping long hair out of the way, using a damp cloth to wipe fingers and spills, and giving the lowdown on measuring cups and spoons.
"Beginning cooks" -- those who have just turned 5 -- can actually tackle a host of tasks, according to Colleen Weeden, a test kitchen home economist for Better Homes and Garden.
Those starting-out duties include measuring ingredients, stirring or whisking batters or sauces, mashing potatoes, greasing pans, layering sandwiches, or adding toppings to pizzas. (Kids younger than 5 can help with tasks similar to the latter two, such as decorating cookies.)
However, you'll want to be clear about what tasks should be handled solely by you, from lifting heavy pots off the stove to slicing and dicing with sharp knives.
After your child has clocked some time in the kitchen, you may begin to notice a happy occurrence -- that he not only wants to help, but is also making menu suggestions. If you've been incorporating healthy fare into your meals, chances are, he'll show interest in those foods as well.