Having fun in the kitchen and teaching children to eat healthy foods is as important as teaching children about kitchen safety. In America today the leading cause of home fires and injuries related to fires is home-cooking equipment. If you want your children to enjoy cooking and you are passionate about equipping them with a love of healthy interesting food, you also need to educate them about kitchen safety.
Why supervision matters
The first step to kitchen safety for kids is supervision. Children should always be supervised in the kitchen or food preparation area and they should be taught to expect that from an adult. Supervising children around equipment is essential. Children should be taught that some equipment is for adult use only- items like pressure cookers need supervision and safety testing by professionals. Whereas blenders and mixers need guidance and instruction depending on the age of the child and the experience. Make sure that children know where the fire extinguisher is and what the plan is if it does not work.
Supervising doesn’t have to be a burden though, as it can be a fun instructional time. A time to talk and share and discover new tastes and ingredients together. Even once children become confident cooks they still need a certain amount of supervision in the kitchen. Celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich reminds us that cooking really is about creating lasting memories with family, she says, ‘That’s the greatest reward when the family is around and they are happy.’
The importance of good hygiene
Teaching children healthy hygiene practices in the kitchen keeps everyone safe. Before preparing any sort of food everyone should wash their hands with soap and water. If someone is unwell they should not participate in the cooking activity. Drawing a menu or designing an effective hand washing poster for the whole family can be a fun activity if someone has to sit out while recovering from a cold or other illness. Cleanliness in the kitchen needs to include the utensils, bowls and chopping boards and wiping up spills as soon as they occur. Why not do a fun interactive checklist together before starting to prepare the meal?
Design a safer kitchen together
Various apps are available that help children learn about food preparation and safety in the kitchen. They are fun and engaging, but they do not replace the real thing. Why not make your own photo story that encourages safe practice- for instance making a set of pictures with all of the pot handles facing in, cleaning and clearing surfaces and holding knives properly whilst always cutting away from the knife.
Whatever you decide to create with your family in the kitchen the most valuable thing you will create is fun memories. Spending some time creatively engaging your children in a fun way about cooking safely will keep them safe.