Holiday Food Preparation with Young Children

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Article written by Zane Ehnes, UNL Graduate Student in Community and Health Promotion with Alice Henneman, MS, RD, Extension Educator in Lancaster County

What better way to spend time with your family during the holidays than in your kitchen? Making tasty holiday treats with your children can be fun and educational!

We need to make sure when younger children are helping that we take some safety precautions such as watching for choking hazards. Always make sure children are sitting down before eating and keep a close eye on them during meal and snack time.

To ensure children have a fun, yet safe time in the kitchen, check out these tips in the chart below from USDA. Tips provided are general and depending on the child, some tasks may be completed at different ages.

2 year olds 3 year olds 4 year olds 5 year olds
  • Wash produce
  • Break cauliflower and broccoli into smaller pieces
  • Gather ingredients
  • Throw things in the trash
  • Wipe down the table and counter tops
  • Add ingredients
  • Scoop and mash potatoes
  • Squeeze citrus fruits
  • Peel eggs and some fruits like oranges and bananas
  • Help set the table
  • Crack eggs
  • Measure ingredients
  • Cut soft fruits with dull or plastic knife
  • Use manual egg beater

Holiday Fruit Parfait

  • Green grapesHoliday Fruit Parfait
  • Kiwi
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • Maple syrup (optional)
  1. Rinse fruit and pat gently with paper towels.
  2. Cut fruit into small pieces, 1/2 inch or less, safe for children under 5 years of age.
  3. Layer yogurt with fruit in a plastic glass. If desired, drizzle with maple syrup for a touch of added sweetness.

Tip: Let children get involved by creating their own parfait and cutting up fruit with a plastic or dull knife. Children are more willing to try new foods if they help make them.

References:

  1. USDA's ChooseMyPlate: Kitchen Helper Activities
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics: Choking Prevention
  3. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Cooking with Children