With all of the extra cooking and baking that comes along with the end of the year, it might be a good time to enlist the help or your children. Cooking as a family provides plenty of benefits, such as reading, math, and the development of problem solving skills. Getting children in the kitchen early can also lead to better eating habits as they learn early to be self-sufficient in preparing “real food,” as opposed to ordering a late night pizza.
But before you cut them loose on making all of the cookies for this year’s cookie exchange, you’re going to need to teach them some safety basics. Here’s a list to get you started:
- Wash hands before you cook. Wash them again after handling any raw materials, such as meat or eggs. Wash them a final time when cooking is completed.
- Stove top safety is important.
- It’s critical that children don’t touch the surface during cooking, but also for an extended period after cooking while it cools down. Therefore, cleaning up any food spills on the surface should be done after it’s had proper time to cool.
- Handles for pots and pans should always be turned inward so they cannot be easily spilled. Show them how to turn them inward without putting them over another burner.
- Hot liquids and soups are best cooked on the back burner.
- Pay attention, and never leave the room while something is cooking. It could boil over and cause a fire.
- Keep oven mitts, towels, and paper towels away from the stovetop.
- Use an oven mitt or a potholder to remove hot pots and pans from the stovetop.
- Always make sure to turn off the stove when finished.
- Oven safety is also important.
- Never touch oven racks without a proper potholder or oven mitt.
- Make sure to open the oven door slowly, and stand as far back as possible.
- Turn off the oven after cooking.
- Licking raw cookie dough from a spoon sounds like a fun idea, but ingesting raw eggs can make you sick. Sampling should be done after cooking is finished.
- The importance of kitchen tool safety:
- Water and electrical appliances don’t mix. Help your children understand that electrical shock can occur if their hands are wet or if they submerge a mixer in water while it’s plugged in.
- Items that need to be cut with a sharp knife are best left to an adult, so ask for help for this part.
- In the event of a burn, immediately run the burned area under cold water while calling for help. If no one is in the area, get help and then treat it. (This brings up an important point: don’t leave your children unsupervised in the kitchen!)
- Understanding about foodborne illness is important. Help them understand this as you share cleaning basics.
- Clean any dishes that held raw food immediately after you use them. This will prevent the dish from getting used with cooked food that could make you ill.
- Clean as they go. For example, putting ingredients away after they are measured and added.
- All countertops and dishes should be properly cleaned after cooking is completed.
- In the event of a kitchen fire, your child will need to know what to do.
- Keep a lid close in case of a small fire. Smother the fire by putting the lid over the flame and turning off the stovetop. Don’t remove the lid until the fire is completely cooled.
- Make sure your child knows where the fire extinguisher is kept and how to use the P.A.S.S. technique.
- If that doesn’t contain the fire immediately, tell them to exit the home and call 9-1-1.
- Teach children how to check smoke detectors, and the importance of doing it regularly.
Remember, cooking can be a fun bonding experience between parent and child, as well as a wonderful teaching moment. Take the opportunity to expand basic cooking skills to life matters like planning, fractions, the science of how ingredients react, and so much more. Cooking can also be a great way to unleash your child’s creativity.
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