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Old 01-14-2010, 11:17 PM   #31
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I'm definitely in they yes camp. I don't have kids, but always have had nieces, nephews, and friends' children help out when they showed an interest. And sometimes they do very young. If you can, get one of those step stools (Costco I think makes most of them) so a youngster who is interested can be up high enough to see what is going on. A bit of dough to play with to make a shape and bake along with your cookies or pies. "Mushing" things like meat loaf when a little older. My advice would be not to push it, just encourage the kids' desire to participate. When I was young, some of my favorite meals were "cook at the table" meals ... my personal favorite at a very young age was sukiyaki, trying to use chopsticks, choosing the vegetables you wanted. I still love it and haven't made it in years. A little later it was fondue.

Making pasta was always a hit with my friends' children. I learned most kids like spaghetti with red sauce, and most who don't like it with butter. But they love seeing it made, and helping to make it. Hubby would mix it up, then we'd put a kid on the aforementioned stool and have them hold the pasta as it came out the other end, or crank the crank.

The only place, I, as Auntie Claire, drew the line was when I couldn't get certain of my relatives to keep all toddlers out of the kitchen when I was doing dangerous work (like removing a 20+ lb turkey out of the oven and would fine a three year old suddenly behind my knees or similar things). Keep the little kiddies away from you when dealing with hot, heavy things (ditto animals, but nudging pets away from me or tossing them outside for a few minutes is acceptable, not so much when it is a child!).
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:38 PM   #32
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I'm big in the YES camp!

My son started stirring eggs at 18 months and stayed in the kitchen with me. He learned "Hot!" as well though I never held his hand close to coals - he also learned to follow instructions and Move! I vividly remember him telling a friend (he was about 9 years old) "and if you don't do just what she says you have to leave the kitchen WITHOUT TOUCHING THE FLOOR!" His major punishment was being excluded from the kitchen.

Today his is a wonderful cook - in fact uses some of his dishes for barter - and last Thanksgiving he cooked 11 turkeys in various ways. At Christmas time he prepared Creme Brulee, a 3" tall cheesecake (to die for) and he's best at savory cooking!

I always said any child in my house who was "a picky eater would likely starve - he was completely adventurous in his tastes as is his now 5 year old daughter!

I introduced him to sharp objects at an appropriate time and he learned fractions, dovetailing and a great appreciatioin for both food and the preparation of food as a result.

Kids in the kitchen are great!
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:54 AM   #33
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i was given extreme flexibility in being allowed to cook by myself very, very early, like 7. by summer of 4th grade, i cooked my Mom's lunch & she'd leave work for that, usually cheese-fried eggs, double-fried taters, smashed taters,...
i'd cook candies like lollipops & me & my beloved Gramps, rest his soul, would make a batch of fudge when i was there. i baked then, although i despise baking now.
same as my brother, he was baking yeast breads, candy.....
us kiddos were voracious readers of cookbooks.
i also began making my own dips/cheeseballs near 7.
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Old 01-15-2010, 10:08 PM   #34
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My daughter was 1 1/2 years old when she started messing in the kitchen, which is very normal for kids. She started sitting inside the pan, and get into the cabinets, taking out plastic containers... kids' way to get acquianted to the kitchen. Now she is almost 11 years old, she likes very much helping in the kitchen, and she doesn't like me helping. She likes making cakes, macaroni and cheese, her favorite sandwiches. I always needed her help with my other children...it's a good idea to let children start messing in the kitchen at an early age.
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Old 01-16-2010, 12:19 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chelli View Post
This was an interesting topic brought up in one of my group conversations, so i was wondering how other parents approach it. How early do you let you kids help out in the kitchen and what do you let them do? I personally think it is good practice, but I am clueless on how to execute it in a responsible safe way. Look forward to your opinions!
I used to let my kids stir cake and brownie batter, crack/beat eggs, ect... mostly cold-side activities. Some kids like it, some don't, some just want to lick the spoon but don't want to do the work. My oldest son can dice, chop, filet and mince just about anything I ask for. My daughter and youngest son are not really into the whole kitchen/cooking scene at all.

Let your kids do as much experimentation as they choose, and don't worry if some don't like it... just encourage the ones who (hopefully) do.
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:44 AM   #36
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I can't wait til my new grandbaby Sophia is big enough to "help" in the kitchen!! My boys worked with me as soon as they were big enough to stand up--they washed vegetables, cracked eggs, stirred and licked spoons, and both of them cook regularly now. I have many pictures of a flour dusted kitchen, because they both loved to bake bread.
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:58 PM   #37
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yes
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:14 AM   #38
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Such fun, my kids were always in the kitchen with me (husband also) we love cooking together. The girls were around 3 or 4, the youngest learned to use the microwave very early, at 4 she could toast her bread, put a cheese slice on it and put it in the microwave for a few seconds for a toasty cheese sandwich. Now that we have added two husbands to the family, they do a lot of the cooking! It is pretty exciting having six cooks in the kitchen!
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Old 01-18-2010, 06:04 PM   #39
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I litterally started playing with the stove when I was 4 years old, without permision of course. I go the strap for it (Yowch!). I still remember how that stung. I didn't touch the stove again until invited by my Dad to help make pancakes at about 7 or so. By 10, I was making my own breakfast of fried eggs and bacon. After that, the experiments began and I've been cooking ever since. I began teaching my kids at about 4 or so. They are all exceptional cooks, and not a picky eater in the bunch (4 adults now). Each of them is pretty much the cook of choice among their social circles.

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Old 01-18-2010, 08:49 PM   #40
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I let my children start helping when they were 6 and 4 years old, that was about 4 years ago, they love it. Now, the elder one wouldn't let me help her with anything she would like to have at that moment, she makes cakes, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and her own sandwiches,but cleaning after her is my part.
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