tea towels, dish towels, flour sack towels

As parents, kids quickly become the center of your universe. They become part of your everyday life in every aspect, and that includes cooking in the kitchen. Cooking with your children is a great way to spend time together and helps to build essential skills they'll need later in life, so it's no wonder that tons of parents look forward to it.

There is the issue of actually cooking, though. Since most kitchens are made with adults in mind, it can be challenging or even frightening for some kids to try and help out while you're making food. It doesn't have to be, though, and it's super simple to convert your kitchen into a kid-friendly space. All you'll need are these seven essential tools to help out.

1. Tea Towels

It's no secret that kids are messy. And when it comes to messy, kitchens are where you can really see the full scope and scale of what children are capable of. So, instead of spending a fortune on paper towels, get some nice tea towels to help keep things tidy.

Tea towels (also known as flour sack towels) are both an easy way to clean up spills in the cooking area as well as a way to teach responsibility to your kids. When they make a mess, they've got something to clean it up with. Professional chefs often keep these towels with them as they cook, so it can help establish good cooking habits early on, too.

2. Step Stools

Given the size difference between most children and adults, it can be hard for kids to navigate certain areas of a kitchen effectively. When this happens, a boost is in order. Rather than the old unsafe fallback of a wobbly chair, try a step stool.

Having a step stool gives your children the extra height needed to participate in cooking duties, as well as have some extra reach around the kitchen to grab other things like bowls or utensils. Not only that, including a stool in your kitchen makes it immediately apparent that you want them to help and that cooking with them isn't a chore. And if it seems like you enjoy having them there, then they're that much more likely to enjoy being there.

3. Small Tools

Just like with step stools, your kids (especially the younger ones) might need some help using tools. To overcome the strain of utensils and tools that are too large for them, make sure you've got some appropriately sized cooking implements in the kitchen.

This goes double for things like aprons, as they'll avoid the need to change clothes after you cook together. Giving kids things sized for them helps to build independence, as they'll be able to do things like mixing all by themselves. Not only that, it helps them feel like they have a place in the kitchen, since they have their own set of tools waiting for them when they want to help them.

4. Safety Graters

Unless they're lactose intolerant, one thing almost every kid loves is cheese. All sorts of recipes call for fresh grated cheeses, but that presents a problem when so many graters are so easy to hurt yourself with. Instead of turning to the pre-grated, less tasty bag solution, try a safety grater.

Safety graters are designed without exposed blades, making grating of any kind a breeze. You can usually see these used in certain restaurants by the waitstaff, meaning they're typically easy to find online or in special culinary stores. Not only are they safer, they're also easier and less likely to tire a kid out compared to the traditional box grater or Microplane.

5. Immersion Blenders

Not only are immersion blenders easy for kids to use, the number of things you can do with them is huge. Smoothing out sauces, whipping egg whites, and much more are made so much easier, and all in a way that lets your kids feel involved and active in the cooking process.

There are plenty of novelty blenders out there, too, themed after things like lightsabers or swords that make cooking that much more fun. It won't take long before you're using (or being asked to use) the immersion blender in all sorts of recipes.

6. Slicers

Rather than grappling with the mortal terror that comes with letting small children handle the knives, start them out on a dedicated food slicer. With just a little supervision, you can set them loose with one of these to chop, dice, and even mince all sorts of foods.

Slicers are great at getting the job done and help your kid really contribute to a meal. They're also fun to use, as all it takes to turn a whole onion into tiny pieces is a hard push of a lid. They're a good way to introduce blade safety, too, as an accident with a slicer is usually less serious than one with a knife and involves many of the same precautions about keeping hands clean and paying attention to what you're cutting.

7. Corers

Corers of all kinds are easy and fun to use. Whether they're meant for apples, pears, or even something like cupcakes, you and your child can find tons of uses for these simple kitchen tools.

Similar to the slicer, these eliminate the need for knives around smaller children and can help them learn blade safety in a less dangerous way. And, since most things you can core will be fruit, it can even double as a way to motivate healthier eating.