Is a three year old child too young to learn how to prepare food in a kitchen? If parents can keep their children safe from the heat and sharpies found in all kitchens, tolerate the frequent messes and occasional tantrums, and show patience as they teach youngsters new cognitive and fine-motor skills, then K J Dell’Antonia and Margaux Laskey say the answer is “no”:

[T]here are good reasons to encourage kids in the kitchen at any age. With young children, that early investment pays off — eventually. Older children may not be grateful now, but the time will come when they need to put food on the table, and it will help to know you boil the water before you dump in the pasta. Start now, and you may reap the benefit of a child who can take over dinner once a week or once a month.


Dell’Antonia and Laskey provide five reasons why parents should get their kids cooking in the kitchen:

  • Children who cook become children who taste, and sometimes eat.
  • Children who cook say “I can,” not “I can’t.”
  • Cooking is a way to talk about health.
  • Cooking is a way to talk about healthy ingredients.
  • Cooking brings cooks of all ages closer. For better or worse, you will get to know your children, and they you, more deeply when you cook with them. For better, you will share recipes, techniques and anecdotes that you learned at the elbows of mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers long gone. For worse, you will huff and puff and whine and lose your patience when they accidentally spill heavy cream all over the kitchen table while making mini-shortcakes with berries, but they will love you anyway, teaching you, the one who’s supposed to be the grown-up, about unconditional love and ready forgiveness.


Read the authors’ “Kids in the Kitchen” blog series here.


***If your child has any special recipes they’d like to share, please email them to and we will include them on our “Kids’ Menu” feature.