Cookingwith your child is a great way for parents to teach important food preparation skills. Children as young as two can help withsimple cooking chores such as cleaning vegetables or stirring mixes.
However, a kitchenhas many inherent risks, so it is important to teach proper safety procedures along with thecooking techniques.
Knives and Utensils -- Young children should not use knives or othersharp implements, including vegetable peelers. Allow older children to usethese implements only under the close supervision of an adult.
Teach the childto cut away from her body and to keep her hands out of the path of the knifeblade. Use only properly sharpened utensils, as dull blades require more forceto cut, which makes you more prone to slipping and injuring yourself. For softfoods, such as butter, younger children can use plastic implements for cutting.
Hot Items -- Keep pot handles turned inward so the child doesn'taccidentally pull a pot of hot food onto himself. While children can help withmixing and preparation, only adults should tend to items cooking on the stovetop.
Instruct children to stand clear when you open the oven or remove an itemto prevent accidental burns. Place the food in a location the child cannotreach as it cools -- even normally attentive children can accidentally burnthemselves by excitedly grabbing a cookie fresh from the oven.
Electric Appliances -- Electric mixers, blenders and other small appliances can cause injury tosmall hands. Use hand tools such as whisks and spoons when cooking withchildren to avoid potential injuries. If an electric appliance is necessary,only an adult should operate it. Unplug appliances when they aren't in use sothe child doesn't accidentally turn it on and injure him/herself.
Size Concerns -- Kitchens are made for adults, so a child's smaller size canpose a safety hazard in the kitchen. Use appropriate-sized step stools toelevate your child to the proper height for working on the counter, or seat himat a table as he helps prepare the food.
Remove tablecloths from the worksurface so the child doesn't accidentally pull it and all the items on thetable down upon himself. Position appliance cords so they don't dangle within achild's reach. Children may tug on these cords, pulling heavy appliances downon top of them.
General Food Safety --Teach the child proper food handling procedures, includingkeeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Insist upon hand washing beforebeginning work in the kitchen and tie up the child's long hair if necessary.Explain about germs and the importance of cleaning and sterilizing the knivesand cutting boards used for meat.