Children of all ages can help in the kitchen

Call in the smallest helping hands to help with age appropriate tasks in the kitchen during the busy holiday season.

With the holidays upon us, extra meals and company create more work in the kitchen. Take advantage of all the helping hands in your house – especially the smaller helpers! Children are capable of doing many tasks and can be helpful in getting chores done while also developing eye-hand coordination and small muscle development.

Assigning children age appropriate jobs in the kitchen builds a sense of responsibility, aids in muscle development and teaches them self-sufficiency. What can children do safely in the kitchen? Check the list below to see what children can do by age category and invite your child into the kitchen to start them on a path to learn important lifelong skills.

Still refining their small motor skills, motor activities are best for 2-year-olds. They will be successful by doing these activities:

  • Washing tables and counters
  • Breaking or tearing vegetables or lettuce
  • Washing fruits or vegetables

Independent and excited to do things on their own, 3-year olds hand muscles are more coordinated but still lack refinement of their fine motor skills. Michigan State University Extension recommends that 3-year olds perform the following activities:

  • Mixing batter and stirring sauces
  • Pouring ingredients into bowls
  • Spreading butter on bread for toast

Once a child is 4- to 5-years-old, they have mastered their fine motor skills and are capable of activities using their hands and fingers. Help them master these tasks:

  • Cut soft fruits or vegetables with a plastic knife
  • Beat eggs with a whisk
  • Measuring dry or liquid ingredients

Self-care skills are defined in 6- to 8-year olds as they have become skilled at more detailed work. This age group will feel capable doing the following activities:

  • Measure dry and liquid ingredients using a spooning and leveling method
  • Chop and dice vegetables and fruits with supervision
  • Grate cheese and crack eggs

Ages nine and older are capable doing some simple cooking projects, but still need adult supervision. Help them build their skills by doing the following activities:

  • Sautéing and pan frying
  • Selecting and following a recipe
  • Operating kitchen appliances like blenders, mixers or microwave ovens

Celebrate the holidays with joy in the kitchen by teaching children lifelong skills and success while mastering many developmental milestones.