Getting kids started early in the kitchen is a great way to teach them about healthy eating. It can also prepare them for taking care of themselves once they move away from home.
But kitchens are also full of sharp objects and hot surfaces that can be dangerous, especially to small children. Still, it is possible to cook with your child, just with a few precautions.
Start with simple, fun, no-cook food options that introduce your child to food preparation with minimal risk of cutting himself or getting burned. Ants on a log are a good start because you can do all the cutting and let him spread the peanut butter on the celery with a spoon, and sprinkle on the raisins by hand. Or make cupcakes and let him spread the frosting. These small activities will get him accustomed to handling food and could be the building block to more advanced food handling techniques.
Aprons not only protect your clothing from stains and spills, they provide a measure of protection against spattering oils and liquids. Pot holders can protect little hands and fingers from hot pot handles. Due to their size, children’s faces tend to be closer to bubbling liquids on stove tops, so spatter guards for pots and pans are also a must. Find Williams Sonoma coupons for child-sized aprons and pot holders, for your budding chefs, as well as spatter guards and other protective gear.
Most small children do not have the motor skills to handle knives, or other sharp objects, safely. Children 12 and up, have much better motor skills, but you should still supervise them while they are using the knives, and show them proper techniques such as cutting away from themselves, tucking their fingers, and warning other people in the kitchen if they are walking through with a knife.
Interestingly, a dull knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp one, because it can slip off the surface of the food and cause an accident. Make sure all of your cooking knives are well sharpened.
Some appliances are fairly easy for a child to use, and they have the added benefit of built-in safety features, like blade guards or automatic shutoffs. Small appliances can also make life easier for you because they can cut your prep time in half.
However, you should still supervise while your child uses these appliances to make sure he isn’t sticking his hand into the machine, or attempting to run it with the cover off.
If you don’t have many appliances, such as blenders or food processors, you should consider buying some. You can find good deals on small appliances online, especially in the fall when you can find online Black Friday ad leaks from Nerd Wallet.
Children under ten years of age should not use the oven or stove top at all. Children over ten years of age should only do so with supervision, and the tasks should be limited. For example, avoid spatter foods like bacon or ground beef in the beginning, and stick to boiling eggs or stirring sauces.
If your child is unable to reach the burners, consider waiting until he is tall enough. Or consider purchasing a sturdy set of steps to help him reach the tops appliances and counters. If you use steps, make sure they are high enough that your child’s chest and shoulders are higher than the burners.