cooking safely with kids


When we speak of bringing children into the kitchen, one of the first reactions that it triggers is: "Attention - danger"!

It is true that the kitchen is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house: all ages combined, 15% of domestic accidents occur in this room. However, fear of accidents, large or small, should not become an argument to prevent our children from entering the kitchen or involving them in the preparation of meals. Just as they are taught to go down a staircase, cross the street or cycle, they can be taught how to take the right actions in a kitchen.

Reflexes to adopt to circumvent the traps of the kitchen

Awareness Objective What to start with...
Cooking hob Always turn the handle of frying pans, pots and saucepans towards the inside of the cooking hob to avoid knocking them off or tempting the little ones to catch them. And if you have a gas cooker, consider storing away matches and gas lighters. Teach them early on to never put their hands on the cooking hob, as it remains hot long after use.
Microwave Although very practical to melt chocolate or butter, to warm milk or even to cook certain meals, the microwave is not without danger. Teach your child how to use the potholders when removing a container from the oven, and to move their face away when removing the lid or parchment paper to protect them from the very hot steam that escapes from the container. Let them press the buttons to set the duration of use.
Traditional oven If your oven is at your child’s height and does not have an insulating double door, show your child that the door of the oven can be hot by approaching their hand so that they feel the heat, and explain that it is important to stay away to avoid burning. If you have toddlers, invest in a protective grid to get peace of mind. When you feel your child is ready to put in or remove the muffins trays and other moulds from the oven, stay close by to make sure they are putting on the potholders, placing their gloved hands in the right place ... Teach the child to turn on the oven and set the temperature.
Food processor Use an electric connection above the counter to prevent the cord from dragging to the ground, which could cause falling or your child pulling on the chord. When grating carrots or cheese, always use the pushbutton and explain that it is strictly forbidden to put your fingers in the bowl when mixing or chopping food. Suggest that they press the button to start the device.
Knives Store knives and teach them to hold and use a knife safely: "spider" fingers to hold the food. Never soak in a sink filled with water. Equip them with a plastic knife and ask them to cut soft foods like banana, avocado, strawberry, tofu, before switching to harder foods like zucchini, apple, carrot.
Slicer This instrument is definitely practical to slice onions, potatoes… thinly and quickly; but is certainly very difficult to handle safely! Keep the slicer away and sensitize your child to the "razor blade". Make a demonstration to emphasize the location of your hands... Wait until your child is really comfortable in coordinating movements to give them the opportunity to use the slicer, and start with firm foods that are not hard, such as tomato or zucchini.
Dishwasher Good cooks store and clean their utensils, but watch out for knives and forks placed pointing upwards. This may be the opportunity to start putting them up side down... Ask your child to place all the used utensils in the sink: you will wash them for them so they don’t get discouraged. You can also ask them to put them in the dishwasher, with caution.


The Secrets of Successful Learning

Children learn a lot from imitation: they are tempted to reproduce the gestures they see by the adults around them. Hence, the importance of starting to adopt good practices.

Cooking safely

As neuropsychologist Sarah Lippé*, a specialist in child learning mechanisms, points out, they are more receptive to multimodal learning, that is, when they receive a combination of visual and auditory information, for example. This is why it is recommended to explain to them the appropriate behaviours by joining the gesture to the word, before encouraging them to put them into practice.

Finally, don’t forget that since learning is connected to emotions, the demonstration must take place in a positive climate and any progress must be valued, as it should.

* Dairy Farmers of Canada Conference – February 15, 2016

By Karine Pezé - 1, 2, 3...Je cuisine!

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