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Top Tips for Teaching Kids Kitchen Safety

Brad Krause at brad@selfcaring.info shared with Healthy Lombard that engaging in activities with your children can set them up for success in school and adulthood, and time spent with your kids not only provides them with valuable life skills but is an important part of achieving a healthy work-life balance. In the long run, this helps you be a better parent and a better employee.

One such activity is cooking. Studies have shown that children who know how to cook eat more vegetables and have a healthier diet overall throughout adulthood when compared to kids with no culinary experience. This is partly because kids who can cook are exposed to a wider variety of foods and have more food choices available to them. Those without kitchen skills rely heavily on processed, packaged, and fast food as they grow older and move out on their own.

If you want to ensure that the children in your life maintain a healthy diet through adulthood, teaching them to cook is one of the best things you can do. But since the kitchen can be a dangerous place, you’ll have to show them more than simmering and stirring. You’ll also have to teach basic kitchen safety, which is easier than you think. Ready to learn how? Healthy Lombard invites you to read on!

Utensil Safety

While whisks and wooden spoons require little supervision, knives are a whole different story and your full attention is required while little ones learn to use this potentially dangerous tool. Younger children can begin by using a butter knife to cut fruit and soft vegetables while older kids may be ready for something sharper. Begin by choosing a knife especially for your child. While you might be tempted to hand over a paring knife or a dull chef’s knife for your child to learn with, there are kid-friendly options designed with safety in mind – and they actually cut as well. Investing in a child-safe option can ease your anxiety about slips and slices, giving you the peace of mind to enjoy prepping fruits and vegetables, instead of imagining stitches.

When learning to handle a knife, make sure your child is at a comfortable height at the counter or tabletop. Show your child how to hold their knife with their fingers safely out of the way and practice rocking the knife back and forth on a cutting board. Once your child is comfortable, practice slicing a soft vegetable like zucchini and show him or her how to hold the veggie with their fingers curled and out of the way of the knife. Remember that mastery comes with practice so keep at it. If you’re still anxious about giving your child a sharp knife, begin by practicing with a plastic chef’s knife and a roll of play dough.

If your child has a disability, you’ll want to ensure their safety with some adaptive cooking tools. Ensure they don’t cut themselves by using plastic knives and pizza cutters. Tongs, non-slip cutting boards, and larger utensils can all come in handy.

 

Appliance Basics

Another dangerous area of the kitchen is the stove, and teaching your child the ins and outs of using it will require your undivided attention. Begin by showing your child the different levels of burner heat, either on the knob of your electric stove or by checking the flame of your gas burner. Panhandles should always be turned away from the front of the stove to avoid catching them on your clothes or bumping them. Paper towels, dish towels, and potholders should be kept clear of the stove to prevent fires. Water should never be added to the hot oil as it can splatter and burn someone. If you’re comfortable with your child reaching into the oven, use potholders, never kitchen towels. Also, make sure your child understands the importance of making sure the oven and stove are turned off when they are done using them.

 

In Case of Emergency

Understanding kitchen safety will prevent a number of mishaps, but accidents may still happen. Keep a first aid kit and bandages near the kitchen in case of emergencies and a box of baking soda within arm’s reach can be a ready solution for any grease or pan fires. Talk to your kids about what to do in the case of an injury, like immediately putting a burn under cold tap water and keeping pressure on a cut to decrease bleeding.

Fire Protection

In addition to preparing for possible injury, you will also want to take steps to safeguard against fire. Test and check the batteries in your smoke detectors regularly. Never leave the kitchen unattended while using a burner or other flame source and consider investing in a fire extinguisher for emergencies. The National Fire Protection Association explains “an estimated average of 172,900 home structure fires per year started by cooking activities in 2014-2018.” You can avoid contributing to this statistic by following these safety tips and keeping a life-saving extinguisher handy.

 

Make Space

To ensure your children can safely use knives and other necessary cooking tools, they need the right workspace. Having too little workspace or being overcrowded could lead to cut fingers or even burns. You can set your children up with footstools that give them added height to fully access counter space for room to work. You can also set them up at the dining room table. Alternatively, it might be a good idea to lower an area of your countertops for easier use. The plus here is that if you ever sell, this can be a great feature for accessibility. If you opt to lower your countertops, you obviously require reputable professionals who can provide quality workmanship. Look for local remodeling companies through a site like Angi to find trusted contractors with stellar reviews.

Cooking and using sharp or hot tools may seem like a big responsibility for your little ones but learning how to cook will set your children up for a lifetime of healthy eating and give them the sense of accomplishment they need to face other tasks and challenges with confidence.

 

 

Main Photo by Pexels

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