With the holiday season well underway, many of us are spending a lot of hours in the kitchen, whipping up delicacies left and right. By many of us, I mean grownups and kids alike. Holiday season is when adults are the most distracted, and children are the most excited.
For my kids, the kitchen is where all the fun is at. Parents are busy pulling tricks and treats from ovens, cupboards and refrigerators. The young minds are full of curiosity, wanting to participate and be useful too. For me this means 3 half sized humans, running around in our small kitchen space, competing to see who gets to dice the potatoes first. In this frenzy, things can get out of hand really quick.
As a matter of fact, around 67,000 children experience a kitchen accident every year. Accidents during holidays make up for a big part in this number. Knife injuries, glass cuts and fire burns are the major kitchen accidents occurring among children.
This scary statistic can be reduced by a major extent if parents take the proper precautions when cooking with kids. As parents, it’s our job to protect our kids from dangers in and around the house. However, today I will only talk about safety in the kitchen, as it is an aspect, I am struggling with the most at the moment.
What Age Is Appropriate To Introduce Knife Skills
By age four, kids can mostly understand that there is a method to do things. They also understand the concept of danger, the need to be safe, and that certain things could hurt them. However, start sooner, if you like. With multiple kids close in age, I cannot hold off teaching this for later. There are many kid friendly cutting tools like knives, crinkle cutters, melon ballers and pizza cutters that can be introduced by the age of 2 with adult supervision.
Buy a set of kid safe cutlery so they can feel a sense of responsibility towards it. Cookie cutters are also safe but exciting enough for young minds to get busy in the kitchen. Allow them to handle a crinkle cutter with both hands and cut salad components like carrots, cucumbers and apples. Get a small kid sized chopping block, so they know to lay the food on it as they get ready to chop.
Explain What Danger Is
Show your kids the tools. Show them the matches and fire. Explain that these are hazards and not only kids, adults can hurt themselves too if not handled with care. Let them hold the knife, to gently assess, how it feels and get a sense of its sharpness. Let them know to hold it away from themselves and not direct it at others.
Teach how oven doors must be operated. Always demonstrate the importance of gloves. Once they are old enough, have them practice opening the oven doors without getting the heat in their faces. Show how to hold breakable items with both hands so there is a good grip. They need to know to stand still and call for help when a glass object falls and breaks. The more exposure they get with these hazards, in your presence, the more cautious they will be when they find themselves alone in such situations.
Let Them Practice Often
The best way to learn is to practice. Let them cut their sandwiches, or some cheese, or a hardboiled egg. The idea is to familiarize them with a variety of objects and how to hold the tools when cutting a certain item. It also gives them an idea of how much pressure to apply based on the foods. Children need to be aware of the safety of both hands whilst cutting with knives.
We can always equip our little, curiosity filled humans, with all the knowledge there is, but there is still the risk of something going wrong, so please, always be watchful when there are knives and forks in the hands of children. Most importantly, remember to have fun and make some amazing memories of the holidays!