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Why this mom decided to give her a 3-year-old kid a knife in the kitchen
Research suggests giving young children supervised experience in the kitchen makes them more likely to excel with cooking later on. According to NPR, it's a slow process, but one mom's time spent teaching her son makes it worth it. - photo by Payton Davis
Baking sweets with her 3-year-old son, Sujata Gupta hoped to help him "learn through exploration," according to NPR.

She wrote for NPR that she soon realized, however, that letting him play a more active role in food preparation required equipping him with an item most U.S. parents wouldn't give their young children: a knife. Gupta's mother and mother-in-law "recoiled" at the thought, and online cooking classes listed 7 as the earliest age for kids to use knives in the kitchen.

Research conducted by David Lancy, an anthropologist at Utah State University and author of "The Anthropology of Childhood," indicated it might be smart "to hand a tot a knife," Gupta reported.

"From a health and nutrition standpoint, studies have shown that getting kids cooking makes them more open to eating healthful foods, such as fruits and vegetables," according to Gupta. "With picky eating peaking between the ages of 2 and 6 and my son is no exception I've been hoping that letting him interact with his food in a meaningful way may reduce struggles at the dinner table."

NPR's report read Gupta's daunting decision worked: Her son assisted in chopping food for a dish he normally didn't help with, and no mishaps took place.

And according to The New York Times, pickiness isn't the only issue combatted when kids get culinary.

Whether they're 3 or 13, children become conscious about health and develop bonds with family through the activity. Often, lessons learned cooking instill confidence and prove beneficial in other aspects, NYT's report stated.

"Sliding a spoonful of raw chicken or a piece of breaded fish into hot oil? Daunting," NYT reported. "Making dinner for six people at age 9? Intimidating. A child who can do those can look at any restaurant dish and say, 'I could make that.' Thats an attitude that can carry a child beyond the kitchen."

For Seattle mom Ashley Rodriguez, communication among her and her children in preparation of meal time makes it worth it, according to Q13 FOX.

The Rodriguez family members pick their own fruits and vegetables, discuss moderation, and go over safety in the kitchen, and Q13 FOX's piece indicated letting go safely so the kids could learn on their own was a must for Rodriguez.

Gupta reported for NPR that letting go takes place earlier in other regions, often making kids resourceful at a young age. Lancy told her of a child in the Amazon rain forest who played with a 9-inch knife and dropped it.

According to NPR, the mother's reaction showed a stark contrast from typical U.S. parenting.

"When he dropped the knife, his mother talking to someone else reached backward nonchalantly without interrupting her conversation, picked up the knife and handed it back to the toddler," Gupta wrote.

If parents do decide to let kids assist with cooking early, they have a few strategies to reduce stress and keep things safe, according to Yahoo News.

Initially, parents should instruct children on where all important items are kept in the kitchen. Yahoo News' piece indicated adjusting the height of all work surfaces, teaching about cleanliness and letting older kids help younger ones all make the process less rough.

Starting with a salad doesn't hurt either.

"Start with basic dishes a fruit dip or salad that dont require recipes," according to Yahoo News. "This inspires creativity and confidence. Ask kids what flavors they like and help them combine those in a single dish. Under supervision, let kids do all the measuring, chopping and mixing."
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