Your kids love to spend time in the kitchen with you. You enjoy it as well, but fear that some things might be dangerous for them. In that case, you will enjoy reading about these kitchen safety rules, which will enable you to have an enjoyable and productive kitchen time without a single worry.
It’s very important to involve your kids in everyday routine work because you can teach them a lot while spending some interactive quality time together. But, let’s be real: It’s not easy to cook and watch the kids at the same time.
Many parents avoid letting their kids hang around the kitchen and help with food preparation out of fear that something may go wrong. And honestly? The kitchen can be a dangerous place for children. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, around 120,000 kids younger than 21 are being treated for burn-related injuries each year. It is a grim statistic, but one that can be prevented by following kitchen safety rules.
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We will discuss some kitchen safety tips in this article. Of course, adjust them to make them suitable for your child and the kitchen accessories you have.
Before we start, make sure that you know how to balance a fun atmosphere with clear rules. Having fun in the kitchen undeniably stimulates creativity and curiosity in kids. With that said, realize that setting clear boundaries is essential for accident prevention.
Read on for the best 7 kitchen safety tips for kids.
1. Play is the best method of teaching children
It is the most important rule for every parent in the world, and you can apply it for every situation.
RELATED: Playful parenting to get kids to listen
For example, if your child is whining about needing to clean up after food prep, find a way to make it fun. You can pretend that the utensils are little people who need a shower in the dishwasher.
Or if your child is practicing dicing veggies, make it a game: How small can you get the pieces?
Stay relaxed and frame everything as a game. This strategy will make a huge difference in how your time in the kitchen goes.
RELATED: Stress-free meal prep with kids
2. Boundaries must be respected in the kitchen
Again, play makes it easier to get your kids to cooperate, but it’s important that they realize how important it is to follow instructions in the kitchen. One idea for teaching kids how to respect kitchen safety rules is a game that we call “How fast you can stop doing what you are doing?”
For this game, use the word stop (instead of no), and practice with a child before entering the kitchen. In fact, this can be a game you play just during fun time.
The best way to play it is to alternate between the roles. The first time you play, let your child be in charge. You can be dancing, singing, whatever, but when your child says stop, you immediately freeze. Then, switch turns. Let your child be the one acting silly while you be ready to say stop.
It’s good to play this game in the middle of some other activity like catch or running. The more fun you have, the more successful the learning will be.
Of course, other games can also teach kids how to follow instructions. Mother May I? or Simon Says are both great choices.
As your child masters this game, you can easily practice it in the kitchen. Remind them how important following safety rules and instructions are before you start cooking.
3. Teach your kids the importance of cleanliness in the kitchen
Washing hands before entering the kitchen is a must, but it should be fun too. You can sing children songs to help your child (and yourself) get to 20 full seconds of hand washing. The handwashing song from this video is a great option.
Teach your kids how to gently wash fruits and veggies too. They can use a scrub brush or gently scrub with their fingers.
(Note: Leave sanitizing counters to the grown-ups.)
RELATED: How to disinfect your home when you have kids
4. Allow supervised knife use early
Most parents avoid letting kids using the knife in the preschool period, but it is totally possible to teach your kid how to handle a knife. Just choose the right tool for the job.
I start my little ones with a simple plastic knife for spreading jam or butter.
I also allow my kids to cut up soft cheese and produce, like bananas, avocados, and the like. A great first choice for that task is a little wavy chopper knife. This knife allows kids to use two hands and press from above, giving them better control and keeping their hands well away from the blade.
Obviously, you have to train your child how to use this tool. I stand over them and show them how to hold the knife and cut straight down.
Since I’ve been letting my oldest handle a safe knife since she was about eighteen months, she’s now able to handle a paring knife and dice vegetables. I get her started and check what she’s doing periodically, but I don’t have to watch her like a hawk anymore.
You may be wondering how a child can cut produce with a nylon knife. Honestly, they can’t very well.
Although it’s a little scary, you actually need to give your elementary age child a high-quality, sharp knife.
Think back to times when you’ve gotten cut while doing kitchen prep. There’s a good chance it’s because a knife slipped, right?
Dull knives, not sharp ones, are more likely to slip. So this is not the time to grab a cheap set of knives from Walmart. Invest in a high quality but small paring knife that little hands can use. It will come in handy for you and your little chef both!
SAFETY NOTE: Before you set your child to dicing, think about the firmness of the veggies. For example, bell peppers are pretty easy to cut up; carrots are not. Choose appropriate produce for your child’s strength, and do some prep before giving it to your child. For example, a whole potato may be too much for a child to dice up (plus the fact that it’s round makes it more likely to slip), but if you cut that potato into sticks, your child could then easily cut those sticks into a dice.
5. Clear fire safety rules are a must
Make sure your children know that you are the only one allowed to turn on the oven or stovetop. Teach them that the range gets very hot. It’s important they realize that leaving something plastic, a dishtowel, or another flammable object over an open flame could start a fire (or even if there’s nothing cooking at the moment, turning on the range without realizing there’s something on the stove could also cause it to ignite).
Teach your child to get your attention immediately if there’s a small, containable fire in the kitchen. You can model turning off the heating element and using flour (NOT water) to smother the flames.
And no one wants to talk about it, but having a clear fire escape plan can be a matter of life and death. Make sure your children know which exits are available in different scenarios (for example, if they can’t get to the front door, can they reach a window?), and have a spot for everyone to meet up outside.
6. Have safety locks and covers for small children
Mysterious knobs, buttons, and doors all attract toddlers’ attention. But if your child accidentally turned a gas range without lighting it, it could lead to tragedy.
This pack of 5 gas range safety covers is a great idea if you have a gas stove. It keeps little hands from accidentally turning the knob.
And if your child is like mine and likes to get into the drawer hiding the trash can, you may want to invest in some baby-proofing cabinet locks. This little investment will save you and your child a lot of angst and trouble.
7. Emphasize food safety
Make sure your kids know that they shouldn’t eat anything with raw egg or flour in it. I know, cookie dough and cake batter is super tempting, but the potential stomach bug is not worth it.
Also make sure your kid washes their hands after handling food. It’s just as important (if not more so!) than doing so before starting food prep.
You can teach your kids how to clean surfaces with a solution of vinegar and water with a few drops of dish soap. This is great for getting crumbs and sticky residue off counters (and safe for your kids to handle).
Final word on kitchen safety tips
Preparing healthy, nutritious meals at home with your little ones can be lots of fun. Whenever we cook with kids, though, it’s essential that we think ahead and teach them what they need to know to cook safely.
And if you’re looking for foods you can make with your kids, here are some ideas:
Easy batch cooking recipes
Healthy butternut squash cake
Cold busting chicken soup
11 Easy no-bake Christmas cookies to make with kids
13 Easy Halloween cookies for kids
Do you enjoy cooking with your kids? Have you already discussed safety rules?
Alex Green is fond of healthy living and knows all about home improvement. In his spare time, Alex likes walking with his golden retriever, meeting with friends, and going to the gym.