Why get the kids involved?
Knowing how to involve children in mealtimes is important- not only to avoid unwanted messy situations but also because it provides important life skill development.
You may not have had the best experience in the past with letting your child help with dinner. Perhaps you let 3-year old Luke crack an egg- only to create more work for yourself as you’re cleaning it off the floor- and his face. Knowing what ways to include a child according to their age group and abilities can help prevent these messy accidents while teaching valuable skills. Bonus: Research shows letting children help with meals may help to reduce picky eating!
5 Mess-Free Options to Get Started
Most children 2-3 years old and up are capable of the five options below. Start here and build on these skills as the child gets older and more capable:
- Herbs: Have the child help pick herbs off the stem and break them into smaller pieces. For example homemade guacamole – they can help with the cilantro!
- Lettuce: They can help dry the lettuce with paper towels and use their fingers to shred it for a salad.
- Potatoes/ Avocados: A young child can scoop the flesh of a cooked potato or avocado out of the skin. They can also mash it, but be careful with mashing. If your child is still developing their motor skills, the mashing may get aggressive. A large, deep bowl might help prevent potato pieces from escaping. It’s a great teaching moment to show the child how to hold a bowl while mashing so it doesn’t slip away!
- Stirring/Mixing: Children LOVE to stir things. They love to watch the ingredients get mixed together and feel like they have an important job when asked to stir things. For example, a pasta salad, pancake batter, or muffin mix. Just caution with letting young children stir things that may be tough or dry- if it’s too hard to stir, they will get frustrated and food may go flying.
- Lemons/Limes: Have them “roll” lemons and limes on the table or counter to release the juice for any recipes using lemon or lime juice. Their goal is to make it easier to get the juice out once the fruit is cut open. Let them decide when the lemon or lime is ready to juice- and then let them watch the juices escape when it’s cut it in half!
Ready to give it a try?
Pick one of the methods above to try first and a recipe that it would work with.
Need more advice for getting your kids in the kitchen? Email our dietitian team at
VillageNutritionTeam@wakefern.com to get more information or book a consultation with one of our dietitians.