As a parent, your gut instinct can often be to keep your children away from the kitchen. There are too many risks, sharp objects, heat, it just seems too dangerous.
But then again, bringing your children in can be an excellent opportunity for learning, and can help your child gain independence. It also makes your life easier if you can include your child in your food preparation and not have to have a distraction in place to keep them occupied.
Today’s guest post has some great advice for easily getting kids involved in your daily kitchen routine!
Today’s post was contributed by Miele. Miele is a German family-owned company that sells a range of luxury home appliances and accessories all over the world.
If you are planning on changing your kitchen while you have your little ones (or planning on having little ones), talk to your designer about family friendly features. There are a number of things you can incorporate, like non-slip floors and easy-clean work surfaces that make your kitchen that bit easier to handle with children. Some appliances are more child friendly too so talk to your designer or supplier about the best appliances for your family.
Pro tip: Think long term, as your child grows they will want and need different things from the kitchen, make sure the space can grow with them.
Put measures in place to ensure they can safely interact with the kitchen. You can install things like safety catches on doors to protect little fingers or corner covers to keep little heads safe. Not only will these features help keep your kids safe, it will also help you feel more at ease knowing there are less way they can injure themselves.
Pro tip: As they grow and the safety features are no longer needed, make sure to make them aware when you’re removing these devices. This will make them feel more responsible and included.
Access to everything (almost)
One of the main barriers to children getting involved in the kitchen is access. They can’t reach a lot of the things that are needed. While this can work to your benefit in that they can’t reach knives or anything dangerous, it can also impede their learning.
So put measures in place to help them be able to get at the things they can help with. You could have a little step so they can reach the work surfaces, store the things for setting the table at a height they can reach, and allow them easy access to the bins so you can start teaching them about recycling.
Pro tip: Keep it positive, talk them through all the things they can reach, don’t focus on what they can’t.
Give them their own space
I have so many fond memories of sitting on the counter watching my mother cook. It was my little spot where I could sit in the kitchen and wouldn’t be in the way and could do little things to help, like passing the ingredients.
Giving your child their own space is a great way to make them feel involved while still being able to keep them a safe distance from anything dangerous. It could be a particular place they can bring a chair to sit, or a worktop to sit on, or even their own special stool by an island. It’s just somewhere where they can observe what you’re doing and feel a part of it all.
Pro tip: Create a routine for the time they will spend in the kitchen while cooking, little things they can do to get ready to partake. Like putting on an apron or finding the page in the recipe book, it will make them responsible for their own tasks.
Talk to them
Your child needs to understand the dangers of the kitchen, so explain them in a way they can understand. Explain what is dangerous and why. Answer any questions they have and show them everything you can. You can use this time to establish some rules too, like only grown-ups are allowed to turn the oven on or off, and only grown ups can use the knives. They can have their own little jobs like getting stuff from the fridge or throwing out the waste.
Talk to them about what they want to do in the kitchen too. They could want to try something they’ve seen on TV, or that a friend told them about. Allowing them the option of choosing what to do in the kitchen will make them feel more in control and less intimidated.
Pro tip: Focus on the positives, tell them all the things they can help you with, not all the things you want them to stay away from. Let them have fun too, encourage them to experiment and work things out on their own, the kitchen can be a great creative outlet
Overall, getting your child involved in your daily kitchen routine can be a challenge, but it is such a valuable learning experience for your child and definitely worth investing the time to make sure you do it properly. Every child is different, and will have different fears and expectations so listen to them and manage them as best you can. Before long you’ll have a perfect little sous chef.
You may also like: 10 Tips for Baking with Kids
All the best on your parenting journey,