Children are always willing to help out - with cleaning, shopping and cooking. Younger kids in particular are great imitators and are happy when they can be helpful. At some point, this phase comes to an end! So make the most of it as long as they are happy to set the table or give you a hand in the kitchen. Use this time to establish a common culinary culture.
Don't leave the kids without supervision
Even three-year-olds can turn on a food processor or wash vegetables. Plus, working in the kitchen promotes motor skills and builds family cohesion. Of course, you shouldn't leave beginners in the kitchen without supervision. Because working with hot pots and pans is not safe. And you, as a parent, need to learn to cook with your young children. Now, you have some special help, so you have to make some adjustments. Because cooking should be fun, of course, but also safe.
Make safety a top priority
Of course, you shouldn't put a sharp kitchen knife directly into your five-year-old's hand. But let him experiment with using the drainer, washing potatoes or pouring cream into the pan. Most children want to use "normal" kitchen appliances that are not specially adapted to their age or size. So give your kids your utensils, respect their desire to do as you do, and watch what your child does with them. A five-year-old, for example, can already hold a blender - with both hands on the handle so a little finger doesn't accidentally slip into the bowl. In this case, consider tying your child's hair back when it's a certain length so it doesn't get caught.
Let them do what's age appropriate
You can also teach young children - seven years old and up - what to look for when cutting something. Give them instructions such as: always be seated, on a safe position, cut on an appropriate surface and very carefully. At first, let your child cut only with a plastic or butter knife. Test this on bananas, which can also be sliced with such knives. Explain to your child that it is best to always look at both hands to avoid hurting.
Your child can also help and check the contents of the refrigerator to see what ingredients are there and what is missing. He or she can prepare the grocery list by writing down the foods you dictate. Once at the grocery store, take the opportunity to explain how to choose certain foods. You can also encourage your child to help clean up the kitchen, for example, by teaching him how to clean a dirty oven or wipe down dishes.
Beware of hot pots and pans!
Even if your child is used to cooking with you from a young age, the oven and hot pots and pans are taboo! Pouring pasta into boiling water, taking cakes out of the oven, dipping French fries into the frying fat, this is the role of adults. If your child is alone in the kitchen or wants to make breakfast for you in the morning, he or she may want to boil the milk or fetch boiling water from the hotplate by themselves. And that can be dangerous.
Until about age of eight, children are still very much governed by their impulses. This means that up to that age they can be easily distracted and forget that there is a pot on the stove. If the milk overflows, it stresses them out and puts them in a situation of insecurity and therefore in danger.
Another thing to watch out for is the handles of the pans. Always turn the handles toward the wall when cooking. If a handle is sticking out of your stove or griddle and your toddler walks into the kitchen, there is a high risk that they will grab the handle and the heavy pan with its hot contents will fall on them.
Be careful, it's hot!
It's not only the dishes and pots that are hot and can cause burns. The oven and the induction plate or the gas can be the cause of serious accidents. Therefore, always keep an eye on your child. And it's best not to leave the kitchen when, for example, the pasta water is already boiling. Explain to your children what a hot utensil or appliance is. Explain boiling water to them. You can do this by watching the water together, how it starts to boil and how the steam rises. Or you can intentionally let the milk boil so your child understands the power of heat.
Such practical demonstrations are easier for children to remember than long explanations. Also keep in mind that ovens stay hot long after they are turned off. That's why you should never leave a dishtowel on your oven, it could start to burn. You can make a warning sign with your child that you always put on the oven while it is still hot. Together, you paint a flame or lightning bolt, a kind of symbol that makes the message clear to your child, "Be careful, burning!"
The best way to protect your child from the risks in your kitchen is to help them learn and understand what is dangerous for them. But this preparation should be adjusted to your child's maturity and age. A young child, for example, will probably not understand that ovens are only hot at certain times. Instead, teach very young children to simply avoid the oven.
Encouraging your child to participate in the kitchen
Are you wondering now why you should cook with your child when it is so dangerous? Your child learns a lot by practicing with you. And he develops a different relationship with you than if he only shared so-called "kid-only" activities. It makes sense to get your kids into the kitchen at a young age. They are very interested and love to help: they need to feel useful to their whole family.
The kitchen is one of the most dangerous places in your home, especially for little ones. But with these tips and some minor modifications, you can protect them from injury.