by Christine Sabol from 

As parents, we want to encourage our children to help when they can. Unfortunately, children can sometimes be more of a mess-maker than a helper, due to their lack of experience and coordination with different kitchen utensils.  That’s why we should guide them in helping us and offer them the correct tools to do so. Cooking can be a time where children can learn how to be helpful but also learn to be self sufficient.

Here is a list of utensils that can help children of different ages become more confident within themselves and in the kitchen. Of course, always keep an eye on them just to prevent any possible injuries.

  • 12 – 18 months: These tools can help children with balance and fine motor skills. By practicing holding, manipulating and using these tools they can learn how they offer help with moving and measuring ingredients.
    • Small colander
    • Tongs
    • Small mixing bowl
    • Masher
    • Spatula
  • 2 – 3 years: These utensils require more strength in hand movements like pushing, pulling and holding. Chopsticks can help immensely with hand-eye coordination, also jump starting their skill in handwriting.
    • Rolling pin
    • Measuring cups and spoons
    • Whisk
    • Ladle
    • Mortar and pestle
    • Chopsticks
    • Cookie cutter
  • 3 – 5 years: These tools require more parental supervision but with more experience children will be able to use proficiently in less time. Make sure parents are watching children closely particularly around sharp objects and to start with more blunt/dulled (i.e. less sharp utensils).
    • Peeler
    • Grater
    • Apple slicer
    • Hand beater
    • Small serrated knife
    • Garlic crusher
    • Pizza cutter
    • Melon baller

After the initial introduction and lots of practice, with and without food, children will start to develop a better sense of self within the kitchen. There won’t be any tears when you ask them to help and they will start getting excited about being a part of the family’s meal. If you remember to keep it positive and encourage them to get involved and learn how to use the tools correctly, you’re sure to prepare them for a healthy and happy relationship with cooking!