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.
Font Size
A
A
A
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

How to Let Kids Be Kids

By Judith NewmanEven some toddlers these days are overscheduled, overstressed, and overwhelmed. Over it? Here's how you can help your kids recapture the simple pleasures of play. Scanning the list of after-school activities on a local parenting Website, my heart races a little: What will I do with my boys this year? Swimming ... Spanish immersion ... musical theater ... hmm, how about rock climbing? Given that Gus has inherited my clumsiness, that class might as well be titled "Learning How...

Read the How to Let Kids Be Kids 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.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

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

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
man rubbing painful knee
A visual guide.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
human lungs
Symptoms, causes, treatments.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
two male hands
Test your knowledge.

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.