Toddler prepares-and eats-grilled asparagus
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Toddler prepares-and eats-grilled asparagus

Rinsing beans. Peeling eggs. Snapping asparagus. Washing fruits and veggies.

2 1/2 year old Ben lines up his cleaned and prepped asparagus

When it comes to age appropriate tasks in the kitchen, the possibilities are endless. What gets in the way? Often times, its the parents.  People will ask me “How do you get your son to do so much in the kitchen?”.  It’s simple. I ask. He always says yes. In fact, it’s one of the few times I don’t hear a typical toddler “NO!”

Ben has been in the kitchen with me since birth, it seems. His duties have changed as he’s grown. As a 2 1/2 year old, his current  nightly responsibilities include assisting with some preparation of the meal itself (last night, he prepped the asparagus), putting placemats on the table for the family, helping clear the table and placing the dishes in or at least near the sink and performing other duties as they arise.

When parents tell me “My  kids would NEVER do that–they just expected us to do it for them!”, my question back to them is “who set up that expectation?” Then it clicks. This type of behavior is learned just like any other behavior.  When you do everything for your 2, 3, 4, etc. year old, why would they have the expectation that they need to do it themselves?

I’m no parenting expert by any means. But I have found that this particular method to be very successful. Check out this article for some age appropriate tasks in the kitchen.

Remember to always keep kids safe and supervised when in the kitchen.

How do you get your kids to help you in the kitchen? 

  • Karel Anne Tieszen
    Posted at 12:11h, 16 April

    When they come in the kitchen hungry before dinner is ready, I remind them that if they help it A) Gets dinner on the table faster & B) They get chef’s privilege. That means you get to eat a raw carrot as you cut them up, etc. Depending on how hungry they are, I get more work out of them!

    • Robin
      Posted at 14:40h, 16 April

      Love chef’s privilege idea! That is sure to go far!

  • Dawn Winkelmann
    Posted at 13:04h, 16 April

    Robin, What a great article and wonderful advice! I am a Pediatric Feeding Specialist working primarily with picky eaters and their parents. I love helping the children learn about new foods but I especially love teaching the parents that they CAN change the feeding and eating habits in their home. It’s not usually their children’s behavior, but their own, that needs to be modified. I love how you are encouraging parents to ponder their ‘expectations’.
    Keep it up!
    Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP Speech Pathologist & Feeding Specalist

    • Robin
      Posted at 14:40h, 16 April

      Thank you, Dawn! Would love any additional insight you might have…it’s such a daunting task for some! Any links you’d like to recommend?

  • Kelly @ No Sugar Sweet Life
    Posted at 15:31h, 16 April

    I love this! Thanks for sharing. I think they definitely are more open to trying things they’re involved in preparing. Right now my daughter is 1 and a half and she LOVES stirring things in preparation for cooking/baking. All I had to do was get over my fear of a “slightly” messier kitchen, and we’ve been having a blast ever since!