Cooking is a fun way to spend time with your kids – and they can get picky eaters interested in trying new and healthy foods. By engaging them in cooking at an early age, they can try out the different tastes of ingredients, which can engage them to eat different types of food that they will come to like. By teaching them basic kitchen knowledge, it will also be easier to instill safety and hygiene in the kitchen at an early age. Kitchen safety and hygiene might not seem as important news to them as a batch of freshly-baked muffins, but it is essential for your children to know it. This will also prevent possible accidents in the kitchen later on. As the kids build on their experience in kitchen safety and cooking techniques, learning about the age-appropriate knife and pan skills, food handling, and proper oven use can result in an enjoyable mealtime for all and provide a sense of achievement for the kids as they cook meals for everyone at the dinner table. With these in mind, here are the five best tips to ensure the safety of kids in the kitchen.
5 Kitchen Safety Tips for Little Chefs
- Have a conversation
It’s important to stress to young children the basics of fire safety, and this would include them asking you to plug the kitchen appliances for them. Kids will always be too eager to try and explore new things, and plugging electrical things will get their attention. There are some cases that defective pressure cookers explode even if the adult is cooking. There are also reported kitchen appliance recalls from different manufacturers over the years. It would be a great practice to get more information about these product recalls before purchasing, especially if you have kids at home.
You should also be ready in case there are defective cooking equipment and unexpected occurrences of fire. Inform your child when it might be needed to call 911 and what to do if a fire does start. Tell your child that if they see fire or smoke that is not coming from the food being cooked, they should inform an adult and evacuate immediately.
- Prepare cooking space
Before your kid starts touching anything in the kitchen, prepare their cooking area first, including the necessary materials and utensils that they would be using. Through this, they would lessen the times roaming around the area and looking for kitchen materials, such as spoons and other condiments. For instance, if they are to cook a particular dish or recipe, you should get familiar with the recipe first and make sure that the ingredients are well-prepared. Peel the vegetables, fruits, or other packed ingredients, open the cans if there are any, and ensure that these prepared ingredients are within their reach on their allotted cooking area. Making everything they need available would also contribute to their safety and cooking area organization.
- Instruct them to wash hands and keep the cooking area clean
Remind kids that always washing hands is very important to keep the food clean and free from germs. Explain also the importance of clean surfaces and clean cooking materials to their safety. Always let them wear clean clothes with a cooking apron as much as possible. Having their own aprons could also add up to their confidence in cooking and will help them develop. Aside from that, explain the negative effects of an untidy cooking area, such as contamination of food and potential accidents. Remind them also to wipe up spills immediately to avoid accidents in the kitchen.
- Teach how to cook safely
Learning how to cook must always be taught in a safe way that ensures the safety of the kids which will also benefit the well-being of your kitchen gadgets and tools. Always tell your kid to watch out for hot surfaces and sharp knives that may be encountered when cooking. Presence of mind must always be practiced within the kitchen, especially when you are with a child because there are many areas and objects that can cause harm when mishandled improperly. After pointing out the areas that need to be approached with caution, the next step is to instill the importance of protective equipment. Encourage the use of hand mittens whenever handling hot pots is needed. Teach them also how to handle and store food correctly.
Be on guard as the little chef’s “assistant” while they are cooking. Don’t let them taste raw food or ingredients which can negatively affect their stomach. Remind them to always make sure that any cooking equipment is turned off when not in use.
- Establish off-limit areas and materials
Make it clear to your kid that there are ‘off-limit’ areas in the kitchen that may pose danger to them. This may include any cooking equipment that has hot surfaces and any other hazardous area in the kitchen. As your kid starts to explore in the kitchen, always remind them not to touch sharp knives and breakable materials that may cut them. They must also be warned not to touch or taste unknown chemicals that they may find in the drawers and the cabinets in the kitchen. These chemicals usually include cleaning agents and acids used in dissolving stains and clogs in the sink. It will also be helpful to keep them out of their reach or label them as dangerous chemicals. Lastly, organize wires in the kitchen to avoid accidents leading to electrocution. If wires cannot be properly covered, establish their places as an off-limit area as well.
Teaching your child how to cook at an early age will be a huge benefit to both the parent and the child since they will learn an essential skill at an early age and will have a chance to develop it as they grow. It will also teach them the values of discipline, hard work, cleanliness, and independence which can be learned from basic lessons in cooking. As a parent, it will be your responsibility to watch over them and ensure their safety as they learn new skills and try out their knowledge in the kitchen.