When you think of your first experience cooking or baking, what do you think of? Did you learn an old family cookie recipe? Or maybe you learned how to scramble the perfect egg? Any of us who enjoy to cook usually can remember an early memory of how we began in the kitchen. This week we are featuring an article from one of our customers who is a single dad raising two children. At www.dadsolo.com he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves for the journey that is parenthood.
Kids in the Kitchen: Teaching Safety for Cooking and Baking
Teaching kids to cook and bake is a great way to get them interested in fresh, healthy food. After all, kids love the sense of accomplishment they get from creating something, and learning to cook gets them involved in the process of creating the meals they eat. As fun as it can be to cook, kids also need to learn that there are potential hazards when cooking. Teach kitchen safety skills right alongside cooking lessons so that kids know the two always go hand in hand.
Set Some Ground Rules
Start by setting a few basic ground rules that kids must follow anytime they’re helping in the kitchen. Set rules based on what suits your family with these guidelines as a starting point:
- Clothing – Anytime they cook, kids should wear clothing that isn’t too loose or baggy. They should always wear shoes in the kitchen to protect feet and long hair should be pulled back away from the face.
- Food safety – Teach proper hand washing with warm, soapy water and make it a rule that hands are washed first thing, after they go to the bathroom and after touching any food that could harbor bacteria. Teach kids about cross-contamination and which foods could carry bacteria so they know how to handle food safely.
- Adult supervision – Make a rule that kids always ask an adult before cooking and be sure an adult always supervises while they cook.
Teach Proper Use of Utensils, Tools and Appliances
Don’t shy away from letting kids learn to do things for themselves in the kitchen, but make sure they can do so safely. As one mom tells Super Healthy Kids, when you teach kids how to use knives properly, you are actually giving them knowledge that keeps them safe.
- Utensil safety – Using knives is a foundation of cooking, so teach kids how to use them gradually based on their age. Let young children use smaller, blunt butter knives so they get used to them, and as they get older, you can teach more techniques and allow sharper knives as they’re ready. Other kitchen gadgets can be dangerous if used improperly, too, so always give a lesson on the proper use of any gadget or tool before they use it.
- Appliance safety – Even with your supervision, kids should always ask before using any appliance. Younger kids should not be allowed near the stove, while older kids should learn to use the stove and oven safely. Teach them to always use pot holders when lifting anything that could potentially be hot, even handles. Make a rule that pot handles are always turned toward the back of the stove, and teach kids to always double check that all appliances are turned off when finished.
Focus on Fire Prevention
The kitchen is one room in your home where fire hazards can be most prevalent, so teach kids the importance of protecting your home from fire when cooking. Make it a rule to never leave the kitchen unattended when cooking, and teach them to always be aware of keeping anything flammable like kitchen towels well away from the stove. To be prepared in case a fire ever does occur, test all smoke detectors regularly and learn how to use a fire extinguisher.
Prepare for Emergencies
Emergencies rarely happen, but kids need to be prepared so they know how to react when they do. Talk to kids about what to do if someone gets cut or burned and how to respond if they are caught in a fire. Kids who are old enough to read may enjoy the games and other preparedness resources from Ready.gov.
As a parent, it’s your job to make sure kids know that cooking can and should be fun, but that it must always be done with care. Kids will feel empowered when they can take an active role in learning emergency preparedness, cooking, and safety skills. These skills will not only boost their confidence, but will also set them up for a lifetime of good habits in the kitchen.
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