Learning to cook is a wonderful activity with many benefits for young children.
It’s a great opportunity for some quality family time. Dinnertime is more exciting for kids when they get to help!
Cooking expands your child’s vocabulary as they learn the names of their favorite foods. It also lets kids practice measuring ingredients and watching how they change when we mix them together.
But the kitchen also comes with lots of safety risks for youngsters. Here are some safety tips to follow next time your budding five-star chef helps you prepare a meal!
Fire and Heat Safety
Did you know that cooking is the number one cause of home fires? On top of that, children can suffer burns if they touch hot stovetops, ovens or pots and pans.
- Keep hot pots and pans on the back burner as much as possible, to make it harder for young kids to reach. This also reduces the risk of hot foods spilling onto the floor, or onto your child.
- Don’t let young kids handle hot items. Let them help with cold ingredients instead.
- Require kids to wear aprons or short-sleeved shirts before helping in the kitchen. It reduces the risk of spills and burns. Use safety goggles if hot oil is present.
- If a grease fire breaks out, never put water on it. Mom or dad must use a fire extinguisher or baking soda.
Watch for Sharp Objects
The kitchen is also home to many sharp objects that can cause injury. Besides knives, other examples include graters, cookie cutters, blenders, can openers, and even can lids after opening.
- Don’t let young children use knives and other sharp cooking utensils.
- When older children start learning to chop veggies or carve meat, supervise them at first until they get the hang of it.
- Never point the sharp end of a knife toward anyone.
- Make sure little fingers stay away from the garbage disposal!
Food Safety and Sanitation
Improper food storage, handling and preparation can put the whole family at risk of food-borne illness. Here are some smart sanitation habits to keep you and your kids healthy and safe in the kitchen!
- Shop smart. Check expiration dates, and inspect produce and meats for freshness.
- Store food properly. Keep raw meats separate from other foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Make sure containers are properly sealed.
- Wash up! Parents and kids alike must wash their hands before eating or helping out with cooking.
- Food prep. Require kids to wear an apron, and to cover long hair with a hat or pull it back. Grown-ups must keep raw and cooked foods separate while preparing meals. Don’t let your child put raw foods in their mouth — that means no licking cookie or cake batter that contains raw eggs!
- Clean-up. Wipe up spills immediately to reduce the spread of germs and to avoid slip-and-fall accidents. Wet surfaces or puddles can harbor pathogens that cause food-borne illness, so keep countertops dry. And of course, wash the dishes thoroughly after cooking.
With a little common sense, cooking can be a safe, healthy and fun activity to enjoy with your child!
If you’d like to learn more about the nutritious meals we serve at Little Sunshine’s Playhouse & Preschool®, contact a location near you today!
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