Top Tips to Teach Kids to Be Safe in the Kitchen
Teaching kids to cook or bake is a wonderful opportunity to learn a variety of skills they will use for the rest of their lives. When they go off to college or get their own apartment, they won’t have to call you (as much), and the holiday traditions you start now can continue on even after they have a family of their own. Before you get started, check out these cooking and baking tips to teach your children to keep them safe this holiday season and onward.
Why Kids Should Cook
Learning how to cook teaches kids patience and the ability to follow instructions. They practice math skills by measuring, counting and doubling recipes. And when they open containers or pour ingredients, they’re perfecting fine motor skills. Believe it or not, kids even learn about science when they cook. They see how different ingredients interact and observe what happens when ingredients get hot or cold. With the breaks from school coming up, cooking can be a great way to combine fun and learning.
As you can see, learning to cook provides your kids with a wealth of benefits. But cooking isn’t child’s play–even if children are involved in the process. In fact, it’s important for kids to learn proper cooking techniques to avoid injuries, fires, and food poisoning.
Kitchens are a haven for all kinds of potentially dangerous tools and appliances. Despite this fact, remain calm when beginning the process of teaching kids to cook. If you stay relaxed, your kids will too. Just remember to provide them with close supervision to help them stay safe and have fun as they learn to cook. Want to teach your kids to cook? Keep the following tips in mind before turning them loose in the kitchen on a holiday baking frenzy!
Keep It Clean
The first lesson in cooking is simple but important. Teach your little ones to wash their hands before handling any food. Washing hands with warm soap and water prevents harmful germs on your skin from contaminating the food you cook. If your child struggles with proper handwashing, teach them to wash for the duration of two Happy Birthday songs, or a holiday favorite such as Jingle Bells.
Remind kids they should always wash their hands after touching raw food and eggs. They also shouldn’t let cooked food touch any surfaces that had raw food on them. After using a cutting board to work with raw meat, fish or poultry, teach kids to thoroughly scrub the cutting board with soap and warm water. Better yet, use two cutting boards–one for working with raw meat and another for chopping veggies.
What’s holiday baking without some decorated cookies? Yes, that raw cookie dough looks yummy, but kids need to learn that eating raw dough can make them sick. If they insist on tasting the batter, let them do so before the eggs go in, putting it off limits after that.
Before kids get to work slicing up those vegetables, teach them the safest way to hold a knife. Begin by teaching them how to use either a plastic or butter knife to cut soft foods. They should always cut away from their bodies. Gradually work with them until they can safely use kitchen and chef knives. Show kids step-by-step instructions on using food processors, blenders, can openers and other common kitchen appliances.
Prevent burns by teaching kids to use oven mitts and pot holders whenever removing things from the oven or stovetop. Instruct them to keep pot and pan handles turned toward the back of the stove too. People who pass by the stove won’t accidentally bump the handles and cause the pot to spill, leading to serious burns.
Don’t forget to teach your young chefs and bakers about fire safety as well. First of all, check your fire detectors each month to make sure they are working properly.
Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of an emergency. Learn how to use the fire extinguisher too!
Kids need to ask your permission before going into the kitchen to whip something up. That way if a kitchen fire starts, you’re there to handle it. Teach kids that you should never throw water on a kitchen fire; it will only make the flames leap higher. A grown up can use a metal pot lid to smother a small kitchen fire. Adults can throw baking powder on a fire to extinguish it as well.
Kids cooking in the kitchen isn’t just an opportunity to make delicious holiday treats. When kids learn to cook, they practice skills that will help them academically as well as when they’re living on their own as adults. By teaching kids how to cook and bake safely, you provide them with the tools they need to become adults who know how to prepare nutritious foods for themselves and the ones they love, and not to mention how to spread a little holiday cheer.
This is a guest post by Daniel. Daniel is a single dad to a 9-year old daughter and a 6-year old son for three years now. He believes that every day is both an adventure and a blessing. He’s passionate about helping other single parents through his website: Dadsolo.com.