Safety and Care: Kids In The Kitchen

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Posted by Shah cooks

A kitchen is similar to a laboratory and has similar pitfalls and hazards. Just as you would supervise every second of a kid in a lab, every activity in a kitchen has to be monitored.
The three major hazards are fire, knife and hot liquids. These are some of the issues I came across which can be potentially dangerous.

* Do not let kids be anywhere near the stovetop, whether it is to peer into their favorite mac n cheese cooking or to watch the cookies rising in the oven. It takes only a moment for an accident to occur so be extra careful while cooking.

* Do not let kids be anywhere near the stovetop, whether it is to peer into their favorite mac n cheese cooking or to watch the cookies rising in the oven. It takes only a moment for an accident to occur so be extra careful while cooking.
* Do not try to do too many things at the same time and use the back burner if you have to leave something for simmering.
* Do not use the cabinets on either side of the stove to store anything that kids are used to taking on their own, such as pantry items.
* Do not leave the oven on and leave kids unattended as the door of the oven also gets hot.
* Do not leave kitchen towels or paper towels near the stove even for a second.
* Stock a separate drawer at the kid’s level with plastic cups and plates for their easy access. This would prevent them from precariously balancing on chairs to get breakable utensils.

Sharp Objects:
The knife is a weapon to be wielded with precision and care only as a necessity.
* Do not let kids younger than 8-10 yrs old do anything with the knife.
* Do not keep knives easily accessible and do not keep them in the same drawer as the spoons.
* Knives should be kept away in their own block.
* Do be careful when opening cans with a can opener. The edges are sharp and highly prone to infection especially if they are rusted or the can opener is old. I recently heard about a friend whose husband cut his hand while using a can opener and is still recovering with stitched in his hand.

Hot Liquids:
These can be any liquid or gravy based dish that is on the stove, just off the stove or freshly served on the dining table.
*Ideally, do not keep sauté pans with freshly made sauces near the edges or on the table.
*Do not let kids taste or serve it themselves.

These are just some of the kitchen safety factors to be kept in mind. My friend Meeta has also enumerated very descriptively the pitfalls in a kitchen.

So what is safe for kids to do?
5-7 year olds can comfortably do the following:
*They can peel cucumbers, carrots, potatoes etc for salads and side dishes.
*They can toast bread, and spread jelly or peanut butter on it.
*They can cut cookie shapes out of cookie dough.
*They can spread grated cheese over pizza, quesadillas and toast.
*They can even grate cheese using a box grater which has no sharp edges exposed.
*They can snap off the ends of the beans or wash them under running water.
*They can mix anything together as long as you measure out the proportions. Mixing cake mixes are a snap and they can even pour it out into muffin pans using an ice cream scoop.
* Older kids can even try making their own dressings and flavored cream cheeses.

Though all these warnings tend to scare you off and make you super cautious about kids in the kitchen, it’s manageable if you are there with them. It initiates an interest in food as well as an appreciation for the effort that goes into getting meals on the table.

Kids will remember the time spent in the kitchen with you with fondness later. Everybody will savor the conversation and laughter that flows around as everybody talks and discuses as a family. Some picky eaters may even try eating dishes they helped prepare. The kids will also learn about the different vegetables and its texture, smell, and taste.This is the beginning of interest in science. It is a social exercise that they can draw on during class discussions.

Disclaimer: Some children will progress on different levels. Our age groups are just guidelines. You as the adult should judge what is and is not appropriate for the child cooking. Supervision is key. So please show good judgment in teaching your child to cook.

Some Related links:
Fire safety

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This Post was written by Mallugirl from Malabar Spices.


I personally don't have children but the neighbors' are frequently at the house and this article was really helpful in making sure the kitchen was a safe place to be as we often gather around to bake.

Helene said...
May 18, 2007 at 6:59:00 PM GMT+2  

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