Cooking with your child is a great way for parents to teach important food preparation skills. Children as young as two can help with simple cooking chores such as cleaning vegetables or stirring mixes.
However, a kitchen
has many inherent risks, so it is important to teach proper safety procedures along with the
Knives and Utensils -- Young children should not use knives or other sharp implements, including vegetable peelers. Allow older children to use these implements only under the close supervision of an adult.
Teach the child to cut away from her body and to keep her hands out of the path of the knife blade. Use only properly sharpened utensils, as dull blades require more force to cut, which makes you more prone to slipping and injuring yourself. For soft foods, such as butter, younger children can use plastic implements for cutting.
Hot Items -- Keep pot handles turned inward so the child doesn't accidentally pull a pot of hot food onto himself. While children can help with mixing and preparation, only adults should tend to items cooking on the stove top.
Instruct children to stand clear when you open the oven or remove an item to prevent accidental burns. Place the food in a location the child cannot reach as it cools -- even normally attentive children can accidentally burn themselves by excitedly grabbing a cookie fresh from the oven.
Electric Appliances -- Electric mixers, blenders and other small appliances can cause injury to small hands. Use hand tools such as whisks and spoons when cooking with children to avoid potential injuries. If an electric appliance is necessary, only an adult should operate it. Unplug appliances when they aren't in use so the child doesn't accidentally turn it on and injure him/herself.
Size Concerns -- Kitchens are made for adults, so a child's smaller size can pose a safety hazard in the kitchen. Use appropriate-sized step stools to elevate your child to the proper height for working on the counter, or seat him at a table as he helps prepare the food.
Remove tablecloths from the work surface so the child doesn't accidentally pull it and all the items on the table down upon himself. Position appliance cords so they don't dangle within a child's reach. Children may tug on these cords, pulling heavy appliances down on top of them.
General Food Safety --Teach the child proper food handling procedures, including keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Insist upon hand washing before beginning 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 knives and cutting boards used for meat.