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Kids in the Kitchen  
Teach them to cook!

 

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Gerber Life Family Times Archive

imageAh, you can hear it now. The calls of “what’s for dinner?” or “can I have something to eat?” and “I’m hungry!” echo through your home. For some kids, the hunger pangs may also be accompanied by a desire to cook. Aside from the satisfaction of satisfying the immediate hunger, learning how to cook helps children to develop a number of other skills that will benefit them in other aspects of their development:

  • Having the ability to prepare a meal empowers a person with a sense of independence.
  • For a recipe to be successful, it must be followed accurately. Learning the importance of following instructions is a valuable tool from which anyone can benefit.
  • Preparing a recipe from start to finish instills a sense of accomplishment in seeing a project through from preparation to completion.
  • From cooking temperatures to measurements, the process of cooking helps sharpen math skills while learning to following a recipe helps with reading skills and comprehension.

If your child shows an interest in cooking, take some basic initial steps to let them expand their experience. Allow a bit of extra time and let your child help you with simple, age-appropriate tasks such as cracking an egg, stirring cake batter, measuring sugar, using a cookie cutter, or decorating a cupcake. As your child matures and shows responsibility in the kitchen, you can gradually expand the cooking techniques and teach safe ways to handle knives and appliances.

Kitchens are filled with sharp objects and hot surfaces which means there are some kitchen-specific safety tips to remember with children around. The National Fire Protection Association recommends keeping children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove. Additionally, the NFPA notes that you should always check that oven mitts or potholders are dry before using as scalding can occur if moisture is present and the mitt and comes in contact with a hot surface.

Additional kitchen safety tips from the Home Safety Council include:image

  • When using pots with handles on the stovetop, always turn the pot handles inward to prevent small children from reaching up and pulling down a hot pan. 
  • Hot items such as hot beverages, trays, and cookware that have just come out of the oven should be kept away from the edge of the countertop so children are not able to reach them. Similarly, handles of knives and other utensils should also be kept away from the edge of the countertop to reduce the risk of young hands reaching for them.
  • Tablecloths, runners, and decorations should be used with care. Hot liquid and food burns often occur when children become tempted to pull on tablecloths or placemats.
  • Since children will be in the kitchen helping you cook, set your hot water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to prevent scalds from hot tap water.
  • Microwaved food items can become dangerously hot. Always take care when removing lids and other coverings to prevent steam burns. Also remember to check that all areas of microwaved food have cooled sufficiently before serving to children.

Most importantly, never leave a child unattended in a kitchen. Today’s modern kitchen is filled with wonderful tools to make food preparation easier than ever before, but sharp edges and hot surfaces are best left to the hands of a responsible adult. So hand over the whisk and watch the young chef in training whip up a hobby to enjoy for a lifetime.

Sources
National Fire Protection Association—www.nfpa.org
Home Safety Council—www.homesafetycouncil.org

Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.



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