Skip to content

Information and Resources

Cooking With Children

Why it's so important to spend time in the kitchen with your children -- and how you can get started.
By
WebMD Feature

Parents, grandparents, and youngsters cooking together in the kitchen, sharing family recipes and secrets passed from one generation to the next, is a lost art in many households across America. These days, it's hard for busy parents even to take time out to teach their kids basic cooking techniques.

 It's true that cooking with children requires time, patience, and some extra cleanup, especially when the children are younger. But many experts think it is well worth the effort.

Recommended Related to Parenting

Real Life Stay-at-Home Husbands

By Hilary Stout      Most women have known  — and probably dated — a guy like Todd Gottlieb. A self-described "hard-core bachelor," he was never going to get married, and he was certainly never going to have children. Life in Southern California was good: golfing, camping, trips to Vegas with the boys — not to mention dates with "fantastic ladies." His biggest emotional commitment was to the San Diego Chargers. Today, Todd is a married father of two. Forget Vegas — the 38-year-old could...

Read the Real Life Stay-at-Home Husbands article > >

For one thing, cooking with children can help get them interested in trying healthy foods they might normally turn up their noses at. Susan Moores, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says she has seen this happen countless times.

It's true kids will be kids -- they'll snack on chips at a school party or enjoy ice cream after a soccer game. But what is most important is how they eat most of the time, Moores says. And that's where parents can play a role. Keep in mind that for kids today, healthy eating essentially means eating more fruits and vegetables, having whole grains and beans when possible, and choosing leaner types of animal foods (even some fish every now and then.)

Encouraging kids to try healthier foods isn't the only benefit of cooking as a family. Among the recommendations in an American Heart Association report on overweight problems in children and teens were:

  • Reducing the number of meals eaten outside the home.
  • Having structured times for family meals.
  • Offering healthier, low-calorie foods.
  • Involving children in meal planning, shopping, and food preparation.

Indeed, cooking with children can be the gift that keeps on giving; it has both short-term and long-term payoffs.

Some of the short-term benefits:

  • It encourages kids to try healthy foods.
  • Kids feel like they are accomplishing something and contributing to the family.
  • Kids are more likely to sit down to a family meal when they helped prepare it.
  • Parents get to spend quality time with their kids.
  • Kids aren't spending time in front of the TV or computer while they're cooking.
  • Kids generally aren't eating junk food when they're cooking a meal at home.

Some long-term benefits:

  • Learning to cook is a skill your children can use for the rest of their lives.
  • Kids who learn to eat well may be more likely to eat healthfully as adults.
  • Positive cooking experiences can help build self-confidence.
  • Kids who cook with their parents may even be less likely to abuse drugs.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
feet
Solutions for 19 types.
Still Life Of Protein Foods
Do they work?
build a better butt
How to build a better butt.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to kick the habit.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
stressed working woman
And how to fix them?
fat caliper
Check your BMI.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
man with indigestion
How to keep yours at bay.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.