Ask the Expert – Getting Kids Involved in the Kitchen

Ask The Expert is a weekly column on Littlestomaks.com. The idea is to have a reader-submitted question answered by a nutrition expert or a pediatrician. Feel free to submit your question in the comments section below.

Getting your little ones to help out in the kitchen can be a fun way to help them learn about food! This week, Registered Dietitian Jodi Greebel explains how it can help you raise a healthy eater and offers a few practical tips to get your toddler help you out in a safe way.

Jodi Greebel, MS, RD
  • BS, Biology from Duke University, MS, Nutrition and Dietetics from NYU
  • Experience: Private nutrition counseling practice 5+ years, Co-founder DinDins toddler food, author The Little Black Apron
  • Expertise: Pediatric Nutrition and Weight Loss for Adults
  • Website: DinDins Food , Citrition, LLC
  • Twitter: @DinDinsFood @JodiRD
  • LinkedIn profile: Jodi Greebel
  • Facebook: DinDins
  • Contact: via contact page on DinDins Food website

Question: How do I get my toddler involved in the kitchen? And, why should I bother?

Answer:

You’re trying to put together lunch, make dinner or do something else in the kitchen and your toddler is once again climbing up your leg wanting to be picked up. How can you hold your child in one arm and do anything remotely productive in the kitchen? Getting your toddler involved in the kitchen and allowing him/her to help does wonders for your ability to get anything done while also doing wonders for what your toddler is willing to eat! It’s a win-win. The more children get involved with food, the more likely they are to eat something and/or try something new. It’s one of the best strategies for raising a child who is not a picky eater. And, it’s a lot easier to get something done when you have two free hands!

It doesn’t matter how old your child is. There is something for all different ages – just pick age appropriate tasks such as:

  • Holding a rubber spatula or plastic measuring spoons
  • Playing with a plastic mixing bowl and spoon
  • Washing the carrots
  • Spinning lettuce or other greens
  • Scrubbing potatoes with a brush
  • Husking corn
  • Holding down the button on the blender
  • Stirring ingredients in a mixing bowl while you hold the bowl
  • Using a plastic knife (with adult supervision) to slice banana
  • Cracking the shell on a hard-boiled egg
  • Putting the lids on your plastic containers
  • Counting out cherry tomatoes to put in your salad
  • Mashing an avocado
  • Pulling basil or sage leaves off the stem

Be creative! Give your child any task that makes them feel like they are helping out (and allows you to do what you need to get done). Many kids are just climbing up your leg because they want to see what you are doing and help out! You’ll be amazed how much more willing your toddler is to try something if he/she has helped make it.

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Disclaimer – Information provided in Ask The Expert column on Littlestomaks.com is intended to give you general guidance on a question related to toddler nutrition. It is not meant to be treated as medical advice. You are welcome to contact this expert for a detailed consultation on your specific situation to determine what actions, if any, you should take regarding nutrition and health of your toddlers. We do not recommend you to take any action based solely on the information presented in this column. Experts have agreed to provide their professional opinion on toddler nutrition related questions on a voluntary basis and no compensation is offered to them by Littlestomaks.com.

4 comments

  1. calima

    My daughter, four years old, loves to help me in the kitchen, but this has not yet, unfortunately, translated into her eating the food we prepare together.

  2. It's is the best time to introduce our kids on the types of food that they can eat. Sometimes that's the part they will instill discipline on food habits.

  3. I get my kids doing the dishes…. plastics only, towel on the floor… they love it!

    Their favourite kitchen jobs are cracking eggs and salad spinning. It's surprising to me that they could both crack eggs properly by 2 years old, but with some guidance they managed it fairly quickly. (After half a dozen occasions where they got to have a turn cracking the eggs they'd learnt to manage it fairly well – I did show them how to do it each time.) Of course the first couple of gos the eggs just got squeezed, so have a spare bowl ready for cracking eggs in, then if that works out you can add it to your mixture.

    I have to add that we have chooks, so a steady supply of cheap eggs, and a dog who very happily will gobble up unsuccessful attempts.

  4. Pingback: Ask the Expert - Packing a Healthy Lunch Your Child Will Love | LittleStomaks

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