Teaching Your Kids Kitchen Safety
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Why should children learn to cook?
Letting your kids spend time in the kitchen with you and learning how to cook and bake themselves is wonderful for their overall development. Cooking is a lifelong skill that fosters independence and thriftiness. Knowing how to make healthy meals from scratch means they don’t have to rely on calling in takeout from restaurants or resorting to frozen meals. Meanwhile, cooking also helps people save money in their day-to-day lives. Eating out at restaurants tacks on the ever-rising costs of labor to your meal’s bottom line.
Your kids learn other valuable skills in the kitchen as well. Cooking teaches a person to be patient and that the best things in life take a little more time and attention. Kids also learn math in real-world applications as they measure and weigh ingredients for recipes. Furthermore, they learn about different ingredients and grow to appreciate a wider range of foods as they develop a palate that appreciates things that are fresh and healthy. Finally, the kitchen provides an ideal environment for family bonding. While washing, chopping, stirring, and boiling, you are given ample opportunities to talk and share with your children.
Kids’ Safety in the Kitchen
Other than the bathroom, the kitchen is the most dangerous room in the house. It’s especially dangerous for children with its hot surfaces, fire risks, sharp edges, and potential for harmful bacteria. In order to keep your kids safe while teaching them to cook, it’s important to both talk to them about safety but also to provide a good example on what to do. After all, your kids learn by copying you.
● Always wash your hands before handling food. During the cooking process, wash your hands again if you touch raw food, use the bathroom, touch another person or pet, or if you touch the garbage bin.
● Keep every material that possibly touches food clean and sanitized.
● Separate raw food from other ingredients.
● If you use materials like a knife or cutting board to handle raw food, they must be washed and dried thoroughly before being used again.
● Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking. Use three parts water and one part vinegar for an effective produce wash. Designate a scrubbing brush to clean root vegetables, like potatoes, if you plan on eating them with the skins intact.
● 41 percent of home fires begin in the kitchen, so NEVER leave a child unattended in the kitchen when the oven, stove, or other heated devices are on.
● Teach your children to always get an adult first if they see an out-of-control fire.
● Keep a fire extinguisher on hand to put out grease fires.
● Create a plan in case of fire, and practice what to do with your children.
● Keep all flammable items at least three feet away from any flammable surface.
● Regularly test your smoke detectors.
Other Kitchen Safety Tips
● Show your children the proper way to pass a knife to another person and to put it blade down in the dishwasher.
● Teach them about the right knife to use depending on what you’re doing.
● Keep knives sharp; a dull knife is a dangerous knife.
● Always use oven mitts and pot holders to handle anything that has been in the oven or on the stove.
● Teach your kids to dress properly when cooking: pull back hair, avoid too-loose clothing, remove dangling jewelry, and always wear shoes.
● Never reach into a soapy sink that might contain items that can cut skin.
● Always test how hot the water is before using your bare hands to wash dishes.
● When in doubt, wear protective gloves to wash dishes in the sink.
Teaching your children to cook is a wonderful experience that instills valuable life lessons while providing opportunity for family bonding. It’s important to teach your kids safety along with all the family recipes you plan to pass down. Sanitation safety is very important. You want to show your kids how to properly handle ingredients and material to prevent foodborne illness. Fire safety is also necessary as 41 percent of all home fires begin in the kitchen. You should also go over other safety norms like how to use the right knife, what to wear in the kitchen, and how to properly wash dishes. While you should definitely talk with your kids about these things, it’s even more important to act as a positive example by following best safety practices in the kitchen.