Kids are oftentimes very enthusiastic about helping, especially in the kitchen (and when a taste-tester is needed).
But as we know, the kitchen can be dangerous for the little ones. That’s why it’s important to keep the following tips in mind when your Bobby Flay or Sunny Anderson joins you in the kitchen. Oh, and these tips are kid-friendly so you can print them out and use them with your little one before preparing the next meal.
7 Kids Kitchen Safety Tips
Cooks don’t cook with dirty hands
That should be a golden rule for every kitchen – all small (and large) hands need to be washed for at least 20 seconds before prepping food. This prevents you and others from getting sick by sharing germs. If you sing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing, you’re on the right track.
Dress properly before heading in
Does your child have long locks of hair? It’s time to tie it back into a ponytail to prevent their hair from falling into the food while prepping. Make sure they roll up their sleeves and wear close-toed shoes to prevent accidents while working with kitchen utensils like forks and knives. This also prevents any burns from hot foods. If you’re able, tie an apron on them to help keep their clothes clean.
Separate raw foods from cooked foods
Keep your raw foods separate from cooked foods – this applies especially to raw meats. If you’re preparing chicken and vegetables, you’ll need to keep the chicken in a separate container from the vegetables. You should also be sure to use separate cutting boards and utensils when handling raw and cooked foods. This helps to prevent cross contamination and others from getting sick.
Always wash your hands after handling raw foods
Remember to use the 20-second rule – this is to prevent food-borne illness.
No taste-testing without adult permission
Taste-testing is one the best parts of cooking, but it’s important for your child to ask permission before tasting any food. Foods like cookie dough and cake batter can make them sick from raw ingredients like eggs. If they use a utensil for taste-testing, make sure they use a separate one for stirring and plating.
Hands off the stove
Keep your child from getting burned by telling them that the stove is “hands-off”. This is especially important for smaller children – older children may be mature enough to handle certain items from the stove, but they’ll need your permission and supervision. Not only do you lower the risk of them getting burned but you also stop any accidental fires from breaking out should they adjust the stove’s settings.
Hands off knives
Keep young children away from knives and tell them that these are “hands off” as well. Children between the ages of 2 and 4 are less likely to be mature enough to properly hold a knife and may have an accident. If you have an older child who’s able to handle knives, have them:
- Grip the handle firmly
- Hold the knife away from their body
- Walk (don’t run) while holding a knife
Notes for Adults to Remember
- Keep a close eye on your kids – Kids are curious and can easily hurt themselves with utensils, hot foods, and appliances while an adult isn’t watching. By watching how they prepare food, move items, and set the table, you can direct them and correct them if they need guidance.
- Keep the kitchen organized and clean – While it might be easy to walk away from a sink with dishes after a long day, remember that a tidy and clean kitchen can guard against illness and accidents from happening. Spills need to be handled immediately – one good practice is to clean as you go.
- Remember to turn off and disconnect appliances – Before walking out of your kitchen, be sure any ranges on the stove are turned off and the oven is turned off as well. Unplug and put away any smaller appliances like hand mixers, food processors, and others.
Who Can Do What? A Short List of Tasks by Age Group
Here’s a brief list of tasks that kids can perform by age-group for their safety. If you don’t feel that your child is able or mature enough for any of these tasks, then always use your best judgement.
Preschoolers (2 yrs. - 5 yrs.)
- Pick herbs, fruits, vegetables
- Wash off herbs, fruits, and vegetables
- Add spices to food
- Pour wet ingredients into mixing bowl
- Stir ingredients in a mixing bowl
School-Aged Children (6 yrs. - 9 yrs.)
- Dice up fruits and vegetables (use your best judgement on utensil type)
- Measure out ingredients and add to mixing bowl
- Mix with an electric mixer
- Sift flour and roll out dough
- Plate food and set the table