As someone who loves to cook, having kids who are interested in cooking too is something I’ve always hoped for. However, children who know how to cook can be a blessing and an annoyance at the same time. On the plus side, they’re relieving you from the duty of whipping up meals for them and you get to try out imaginative recipes while admiring the culinary creativity of your little ones.
On the other hand, kids don’t usually love to clean up their messes – although they are great at making them! This generally means that you’re the one stuck to clean up after their experimenting and kitchen catastrophes.
Fortunately, cleanliness, like cooking, can be taught. And I wholeheartedly believe enabling children to explore their culinary imagination and preferences is certainly worth making the effort for. So is instilling into them the importance of tidying up after themselves.
You’ll also need to make sure that they know which ingredients they’re allowed to use and which ones are off-limits. It will be challenging at first, and you’ll probably find yourself having difficulty explaining to your kids the difference between store-bought chocolate they can melt for baking, and the Santa Barbara Chocolate gift boxes that just came in by mail. They will learn, though, so give them a chance – even if it means having to sacrifice a box of organic chocolate chips here and there.
Another important thing to consider when allowing your child to have their first cooking experience is ensuring that the kitchen space is child friendly and safe of any potential hazards. Having a kid contribute to family meals can be incredibly fun, but also requires great responsibility on the side of the parents. This is why you need to know a couple of general rules and precautions as to how to deal with children in the kitchen.
For the majority of recipes, a knife is needed for at least some amount of food prepping. Of course, you can help with this part, but teaching them the proper methods of cutting things – as well as providing them with knives that are safe for kids to use – will help teach them skills they can use for a lifetime.
Regardless of the age of your little ones, if you look around online, you can find appropriate knives that will suit your children’s cooking needs and will minimize the risk of self-inflicted cuts and other injuries. They are usually made out of plastic, but they are still sharp enough to cut all of your basic produce, etc.
Once they get more and more comfortable with operating sharp objects, and they are old enough, you can try letting them upgrade to the real deal [with supervision]. Another good idea is to purchase a couple of kitchen knife sheaths to avoid accidental cuts when taking knives out of storage spaces.
Your kid might not like the idea of having to be supervised at all times. What if he wants to make a surprise breakfast in bed for you or whip something up quickly when you don’t have the time to help? Unfortunately, it might not be a good idea for you to let them roam around the kitchen freely, especially if they are only beginning their cooking adventure. But with time – and age – this will come.
People often catch themselves forgetting that children do not have as much life experience as adults, which leaves them surprised when their little boy burns himself with a pot because he forgot that he had to use a potholder, or drops a knife on the floor and cuts her foot because it was too close to the edge of the counter. Similar accidents are not uncommon, even in kid-friendly cooking spaces, and is why you should always be around when your little people are exploring their inner chefs.
Although you should keep an eye on your kids’ culinary escapades, it does not grant you the right to be the annoying mom that tells everyone what to do and looks over their shoulders. All you have to do is stay vigilant in case something goes wrong and lend a helping hand when you’re being asked for it.
One of the most prevalent safety hazards at any given time in the kitchen is the risk of slipping and falling. Liquids spill onto the floor all the time and when you’re focused on preparing ingredients and frying stuff, it is very easy to overlook a wet spot and end up flying! This is even easier to do when you’re an eight-year-old child and overly focused on other things, which is why you should take appropriate precautions to prevent this kind of thing from happening.
Instead of following your kids around and wiping the kitchen floor behind them, you should equip them with non-slip socks or slippers. It will ease your mind and help the little chefs maneuver around the kitchen more quickly and efficiently.
There is only so much you can do to ensure the maximum safety of your kids in the kitchen. You should, of course, take all possible precautions, but don’t start freaking out over it! Children want to learn how to be independent, and as a good parent, you shouldn’t shield them from these valuable experiences.
Once you make your peace with that, you will be able to fully appreciate your child’s creativity and cleverness when it comes to coming up with imaginative and delicious dishes!