Creating a Safe Kitchen: 10 Tips for Cooking with Kids

By Ebony Porter, November 18, 2016, Family

I am passionate about cooking with my children.

I grew up swinging from the apron strings of my mother and grandmother. Watching them throw together holiday meals, Sunday roasts, cakes, desserts, sauces, cold salads, chutneys, stews, and so much more, I saw the dance and the love that goes into creating real, wholesome, and delicious food.

Creating a Safe Kitchen: 10 Tips for Cooking with Kids | Bounce Energy Blog

And beyond the practical aspects of teaching your child to cook, these lessons will create such wonderful memories.

So, when I entered motherhood, there was no doubt that I too would have my children in the kitchen. They didn’t have to fall in love with cooking, but they had to participate and discover first-hand what homemade food was all about.

My now-8-year old daughter wants to be a baker when she grows up, and her passion for baking likely began with her helping me to make pizza dough as a baby. I can remember her – about 15 months of age – poking her fingers into the dough and making a huge mess of flour all over the floor. It didn’t bother me one bit! She was having fun, she was discovering texture, and most importantly, she was learning how to bake.

If you’ve been wondering when is the best time to bring your kids into the kitchen, there’s no better time than now. But keep in mind, bringing kids into a room of the house loaded with hot stoves and ovens – not to mention numerous tools with edges – means setting some rules and teaching caution.

One key rule for you to accept as a parent is this: by encouraging you child(ren) to cook with you, you are ensuring there will be a bigger mess to clean up than if you were alone cooking.

Creating a Safe Kitchen: 10 Tips for Cooking with Kids | Bounce Energy Blog

Is this cute? Sure. Is it stress-inducing? Absolutely.

If this stresses you out, think of your kitchen as a living classroom. With each recipe cooked together, you’re teaching them so much about the quality of food, and you’re also helping them to become independent cooks who have a love of fresh, homemade food long after they’ve flown the nest.

Stick with these 10 key tips for kitchen safety, and have fun together!

1) Always Wash Hands

Just like washing hands before she eats dinner, teach your child the importance of washing hands prior to handling food. Emphasize this in done in consideration of the other people who will be eating the food being handled.

2) Create a Clean Work Space

Creating a Safe Kitchen: 10 Tips for Cooking with Kids | Bounce Energy Blog

A good starting point for your lessons? Keep everything contained in a small area to reduce spills opportunities.

I am a big advocate for  keeping my kitchen work space as clutter free and minimal as possible. This means I wash dishes as I go. Teaching your child this habit, along with putting ingredients away after they are used, will help her to keep her work space tidy, as this can prevent items from spilling over, causing more mess and havoc.

3) Tie Your Hair Back

For boys and girls with long hair, encourage them to tie it back – because no one wants to find hair in their muffin!

4) Avoid Raw Eggs and Meat

Creating a Safe Kitchen: 10 Tips for Cooking with Kids | Bounce Energy Blog

When your child is old enough to work with eggs and meat safely, you should still supervise her to ensure she cleans up after herself.

This can be a really tough one to follow when you have a kid who loves to bake. Such recipes often call for eggs, and the temptation to lick the spoon can be too much for anyone to resist! But raw egg can give her food poisoning, as can accidentally putting her hands in her mouth after handling raw meat before washing them.

I recommend having your child avoid handling meat and eggs until she shows some responsibility. And even then, you need to watch her carefully to ensure that she wash her hands, utensils, and cutting blocks used with warm water, and soap as soon as she finished working with those ingredients.

5) The Importance of Oven Mitts

Creating a Safe Kitchen: 10 Tips for Cooking with Kids | Bounce Energy Blog

This is how you teach your kids to wear oven mitts and respect the heat of the appliance – by modeling right behavior for them.

Teach your child the importance of putting on an oven mitt anytime she goes to touch anything associated with the stove and oven. Whether it’s a pot of boiling pasta or a pizza cooking in the oven, the pot and the oven tray will obviously be too hot to handle and will burn her exposed skin. Be consistent in telling her to put on the mitts, and she will eventually have that same reaction adults have when it comes to opening the oven to check on things cooking.

6) Turn the Handles

If they’re old enough to work the stove top, teach them the habit of always turning the pot handles inward and toward the back of the stove. This is especially in small kitchen spaces, as the accidental bump into a handle of a boiling pot could spill and become a burning disaster.

7) Fire Safety

Creating a Safe Kitchen: 10 Tips for Cooking with Kids | Bounce Energy Blog

You should always know where your fire extinguisher is in your home and then ensure it’s up to code in case there is a fire.

In case there IS a fire, teach your child to never put water directly onto a cooking fire, as this can make it bigger. For small fires, baking soda will put it out, as will a metal lid. For a fire that is out of control, teach your child to get out of the kitchen as soon as possible and call a grownup.

For your teenaged child, show her where the fire extinguisher is located. At this age, you’re probably not hovering over her like you were when she was much younger, so teaching her her and where it’s at and how to use it could prevent a manageable fire from becoming something much worse.

8) Oil and Water Don’t Mix

Your child should know to never add water to a pan or pot that has hot oil in it. This will cause the oil to spatter, and it could potentially leap from the pan, burning someone.

9) Eyes on the Knife

Creating a Safe Kitchen: 10 Tips for Cooking with Kids | Bounce Energy Blog

Introduce your child to basic knife skills by having her chop soft vegetables with a butter knife.

My daughter was cutting ingredients in the kitchen when she was 4 years of age. It might have only been a soft stick of butter with a butter knife, but it still taught her early on how to cut with knives.

When teaching your child about knife safety, emphasize the importance of:

  • Keeping your eye on what you’re doing at all times;
  • Holding the item being cut with your other hand;
  • Never looking up for anything while cutting; and
  • Keeping an eye on where that blade is in relation to her finger.

10) Always Check the Oven

Before leaving the kitchen, teach your child to always check the stove top to make sure burners are off, and to check the oven, too. Especially if your oven is gas, you don’t want a low flame of gas burning all night.

Do you have any tips for creating a safe kitchen in your home while cooking with your kids? Share with us in the comments!

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