Getting kids in on the cooking game makes lunchbox assembly lines, weekend breakfast preparations and dinnertime planning so much more fun for kids and parents alike. Tuck these safety tips under your belt to set the stage for a lifetime of cooking together.
Here’s how to properly kick off your kitchen adventures.
Getting Ready to Cook
Remember, you’re the head chef of your household and must lead by example. Safety measures in the kitchen aren’t just for kids!
One of my favorite lessons is how best to walk with a knife when others are present. Hold the knife in your dominant hand straight down by your side. No arm swinging as you walk and voilà, safe arrival at your kitchen destination. (Knife handling should only be done by adults and kitchen-savvy older kids.)
Before starting to cook, thoroughly clean all cooking surfaces and wash your hands. Other important tips: Tie long hair back, make sure loose or extra long sleeves are rolled up and do a clean and “reset” after each major step of the cooking process to keep the kitchen tidy and orderly. .
Remember to keep your hands clean, washing between any tasks that change the equipment or the type of food you’re working with.
On the Countertop
Put kids to work stemming grapes, rolling out dough, whisking eggs or slicing bananas.
Setting kids up on a stepladder or sturdy chair in the least trafficked area of the kitchen helps them work at the counter, but leaves you free to open and close cabinets and drawers as needed.
Consider setting up a lower workspace so kids don’t have to balance on a chair or stool — this is particularly important with smaller children.
Place a wet paper towel under cutting boards so they won’t budge as kids are slicing and dicing. I love cutting boards have no-skid grips on the bottom, too.
Soft foods (bananas, avocadoes, some cheeses) can be cut with a table knife making this a go-to task for young cooks.
On the Stovetop
Kids are excellent stirring helpers, but the stovetop can be a dangerous place, so take some extra precautions when working with heat.
Use wooden spoons because they don’t transfer heat, so even if your tiny chef allows the spoon to linger in the pot, its handle won’t be hot when duties resume.
Use a stepladder or sturdy chair so kids can look down on the stovetop when stirring and so that they have full range of motion. Put the back of the chair against the front of the oven to act as a shield.
Turn handles away from the edge of the stovetop so kids won’t be tempted to use the handle to tip the skillet or pot toward themselves to peek inside.
Be careful with potholders and towels. Never use a wet towel or potholder to handle hot pots or baking dishes — water transfers heat quickly so you will feel the heat instantly. Have a designated spot for towels after they get wet (they will!) so no one accidentally uses one.
Do you and your kids hit the kitchen together? What are your best kitchen safety tips for cooking with kids?