No matter your child’s age, it’s never too early to begin teaching them basic cooking skills. However, you’ll want to keep in mind the cooking skills by age which are best for their current stage of life. By understanding what is and isn’t safe to teach them at each age, you’ll be able to offer them a safe and fulfilling experience in the kitchen this year.
What Can A Toddler Cook?
You might be wondering what can a toddler cook, but at this age, it’s all about introducing them to the joys of spending time in the kitchen. You’ll need to keep safety as the top priority at this time, so offer your child a stool where they can watch what you are doing at all times. Sensory play will allow them to experience what cooking is like, so allow them to pretend they are making the same dishes as you are in the kitchen. Encourage them to use all of their senses by touching various ingredients and smelling the delicious scents of the kitchen. At this age, you can also teach them about washing produce, which works hand in hand with lessons about handwashing in the kitchen.
Ages 3 to 5
As your child progresses through our cooking skills by age, it’s time to introduce a little more fun to the kitchen. Between the ages of three and five, you might be surprised to learn that we recommend introducing basic utensils and knives into the mix. By offering them a set of child-friendly tools, such as the ones we have on our site, you’ll be able to safely teach them how to hold a knife and other crucial cooking tools.
From there, we recommend cooking with open-faced dishes, such as pizzas and sandwiches. These are a great way to introduce a host of different skills, but they also allow your children to have some creative fun. Baking is something kids of this age will love to do, and they can learn to mix the ingredients. Following that, allow them to clean and set the table, which is a skill you can practice every day of the week, even when you aren’t cooking together.
Ages 6 to 8
Between the ages of six to eight, children are starting to become more curious about how the kitchen really works. At this time, you can teach them to safely use the oven and stove as part of the cooking skills by age for this group. Of course, you’ll always need to assist them with this task, but they’ll start to understand how wet ingredients suddenly become their favorite dishes. Consider making a very basic dish on the stove, such as scrambled eggs, which will introduce them into the world of cooking with heat.
If your kids are getting more responsible in the kitchen, allow them to take control of a full meal such as lunch or breakfast. These meals don’t require as much cooking, but they will teach them how to make a balanced and nutritious meal. You can prepare their lunches the night before school so that you aren’t rushing around in the morning. It’s another fun way to unleash their creativity and showcase different ways to make a healthy meal to enjoy on the go.
Artistic children will appreciate the chance to combine both cooking and creativity at this age. You can allow them to put together platters for your next family gathering, which they can arrange neatly to showcase all of the delicious food you’ve cooked. Many people find that by learning about food presentation, they suddenly find cooking to be a lot more fun. Use fruit and vegetables to create animals or characters from their favorite shows. This is an easy way to sneak more vitamins into their diet, and they’ll have fun in the process too.
Ages 8 to 10
Before entering their teenage years, you want to ensure your child knows how to use almost all of the kitchen tools on offer safely. If you feel your child is confident and safe in the kitchen, it’s time to upgrade to a sharp knife. Start with the smaller knives you have in your collection, and then work up from there. Make sure you show them how to hold the knife, and then work on softer foods first. Use a cutting board at all times, and encourage them to go slow and steady. Never make cutting up food a competition between siblings, as this is just asking for an accident to take place.
By this age, children are starting to become confident enough to tackle more challenging recipes. We encourage you to share new techniques, such as breading and making dough from scratch. The more you encourage your children to take a hands-on approach in the kitchen, the more likely they’ll be to continue to cook in their teenage and college years. This is a good time to teach your child about cooking with meat and learn about cross-contamination.
Menu planning is something that’s well worth introducing to this age group and is one of the best cooking skills by age for someone who is entering their teenage years. You can discuss how to prepare balanced meals and ensure that your menu plan for the week fits your budgets and needs. Children need to understand that cooking is also about creating healthy and balanced meals, and the more you share about the ingredients that make up their favorite dishes, the more likely they’ll be to make healthy choices.
By selecting the right cooking skills by age for your child and keeping in mind what can a toddler cook, you’ll offer them a fun and safe experience in the kitchen. Of course, only you know your child, so you can tailor this list to fit their current experience level. Always equip your kitchen with a child-friendly kitchen tools set, such as the one we offer on our site. This will provide you with all of the tools that are needed for the activities we shared above and offer tools that are designed specifically with small hands in mind.