Designers and chefs share the easiest and most effective ways to make your kitchen more functional when you're cooking with kids.

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wooden bekvam step stool in kitchen on braided rug
Credit: Courtesy of IKEA

Tip #1: Equip tots for cooking success.

Stock a drawer with child-size cooking tools like Curious Chef’s 6-Piece Fruit & Veggie Prep Kit, says Chicago-based designer Cari Giannoulias, and you may find you have a budding Giada on your hands.

“Family cooking is easier for everyone if you create special areas for the kids’ utensils and equipment,” she says.

Tip #2: Get the kids to step up—literally.

Sabbe keeps a set of two step stools in her cook space for when her kids want to “help” with washing dishes or cooking. “IKEA has the best birch-wood step stools,” she says. “They’re the perfect height and very sturdy.” Our pick: The Bekväm step stool in birch pictured above.

Tip #3: Play—then throw it away.

“When we lived in our apartment and had zero playspace, I used to roll out butcher paper, tape it to the kitchen floor, and let my kids, ages 1 and 3, color with markers while I cooked,” Sabbe says. “I canned pickles during that phase of life, which is a testament to how entertaining the butcher paper actually was!”

Tip #4: Make this tiny swap.

Replace standard drawer handles with rounded Vernon 3-inch bin pulls, says designer Jessica Davis, founder of Nest Studio. “They’re easy for little fingers to grab, but they’re harder to use as a ladder to climb up the cabinets.” Plus, they add instant farmhouse charm.

Tip #5: Give kids their own spot.

Consider leaving enough space to install a play kitchen in your kitchen, advises Sabbe. “I have two clients who moved their kids’ toy kitchen alongside their own, and it was a lifesaver! The kids role-play while their parents cook.” Just be sure to place the play one far from the real flames!

Parents Magazine