Introducing children to the joys and perils of the kitchen as early as possible can help build their confidence and give them a good footing for the future. Teaching them how to use some of your appliances and basic kitchen items is a great way to give your kids ownership of their young lives. By taking on a few responsibilities in the home which they build with you, children can learn to appreciate their abilities and better understand the effort you put in as a parent. The kitchen is a great place to start as most of us spend part of the day in there preparing meals for the family. There are some areas and appliances in all kitchens which can give children an important introduction to safety, and gently ease them into cooking and preparing food.
Start them off young
No matter how old they are, kids can begin to learn about storing things in the cupboards and pantry. Get a load of plastic storage containers and some dried foods like pasta, rice, and cereals; and get them to pour them out and pack them away. You may want to lay a tablecloth on the floor for easy clean up. You can also use zip lock bags to introduce them to how and why things are safely stored in the fridge and freezer. Don’t use any foods that can cross-contaminate and are dangerous when raw.
Safe and uncomplicated appliances
Start with the kitchen sink. Begin by making sure that the mains hot water temperature is not set too high, this is especially important if you don’t have a mixer tap. Teach them about the value of washing your hands before you eat and why we wash up afterwards. Set them up near the sink with a foot stool or chair so that they can easily reach, and get them to mix up suds and wash some dishes that don’t break easily; like metal pots and plastic plates.
Make sure any sharp objects, glass or delicate china isn’t introduced until they are older and have a stronger grip. Next up is the toaster; make sure to explain that they should count to twenty or sing the alphabet after the toast has popped up so that it will be cool enough to handle. Ensure they understand that under no circumstances should metal cutlery be put into the toaster. Educating kids about the basic settings on your microwave is also another good one, but assess this according to their age.
Use only under supervision
The oven and grill should only be used with an adult present, so explain as much to them. Elaborate on the dangers of leaving the gas on, as some kids do get curious and may feel it’s safe to play with the dials if the ignition isn’t lit. Blenders and juicers are great to introduce healthy recipes to your kids, but due to their sharp blades should only be used under guided supervision. Same goes with knives; give them a blunt knife and some soft fruits and vegetables to get them started.
The big no-no’s
The naked flame of a hob is extremely dangerous for kids and adults alike. Make sure you take charge using the hob when cooking with your kids. If children have long hair make sure it is tied back at all times in the kitchen, not only is a good hygiene practice to share with your kids; it’s vital for their safety too. As always; turn pan handles in so little hands can’t reach or pull on them. Electric slow cookers and plug-in pressure cookers are also extremely dangerous, as they can cause severe burns and life-threatening injuries if opened during use. Teach children to keep away from them at all times, even after the cooking timer has elapsed for a while.
These simple steps can teach your children important life skills and also give you the chance to spend some quality time together. Showing kids how to navigate their way around a kitchen is a fantastic way to help them adapt as adults. Start when they are small, and they could grow into teenagers that enjoy cooking good cuisine and someday soon they may even be bringing you breakfast in bed.