Learning to cook offers children many invaluable life lessons. It teaches them how to feed themselves and gets them interested in healthy eating. It also gives them confidence and serves as a great family bonding experience. Learning to cook helps fend off picky eaters too! But, before you ask your five-year-old to chop up that onion or turn on the mixer, read this primer on teaching them kitchen safety. You don’t want your bonding experience to turn into a kitchen disaster.
When teaching children of any age to cook, start by teaching them cleanliness. Show them how to wash their hands in warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after cooking. Teach them how to clean up as they cook so that they don’t end up with a huge and possibly dangerous mess. Instruct them that they also must wash produce before using it.
To prevent burns, show them how to use potholders on each hand when removing baked goods from the oven. Also show them how to turn pot and pan handles toward the back of the stove so that they don’t accidentally knock them over and burn themselves with hot food or boiling water. Also teach them to let food cool off before tasting it.
You probably think that children and knives don’t mix. You can, however, allow your kids to use knives in the kitchen as part of a slow process. When they’re as young as 18 months old, teach them how to use a butter knife to spread jelly on toast. After that, they can start having fun chopping up soft foods like bananas. Show them how to stabilise the food with their non-dominant hand and cut with the other hand while keeping fingers out of the way. You can even buy your kids their own knife set designed to help them learn to use a knife. Eventually, they can graduate to using a serrated knife for more advanced chopping.
There is a growing trend to allow children to use sharp knives early on, but you know your kids best. Don’t allow your kids to use a chef’s knife until you feel they are ready. Keep in mind that vegetable peelers, mandolines, hand blenders, cheese graters, and food processors can be just as dangerous as knives, so make sure you show them how to use these tools safely.
Raw food safety
To prevent illness, teach children the dangers of eating raw or undercooked foods. They need to learn that no matter how yummy that cookie batter looks, they cannot lick the bowl. And teach them to wash their hands if they have handled raw meat and not to mix raw meat with ready-to-eat food.
Before involving your kids in the kitchen, take the opportunity to make sure your house is protected from a fire. Test your smoke detector, and test it regularly. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen in case of an emergency, and learn how to use it. Also teach your children how to use it along with the basics of what to do in case of a fire emergency.
Of course, make sure your kids know they need to ask permission to start cooking, and never leave them unattended while they’re preparing food. This will help ward off major kitchen emergencies, but make sure they know to call an adult as soon as one occurs.
Don’t be afraid to involve your kids in the kitchen starting at an early age. They will enjoy helping you make not only cookies and cakes, but also real food, like soups and stews. But before you get started, keep them safe by teaching them cleanliness and raw food safety. Prevent burns and cuts by teaching them how to properly use appliances and knives. Teach them how to prevent fires and what to do in case of an emergency. As long as you take all of these safety precautions, let them surprise you with what they can accomplish in the kitchen!This article is brought to you by SW Fruit & Veg, where we share with you what we believe to be the best seasonal produce, grown as locally as possible. For more information, please visit our website or contact us today!