Cooking can be a fun activity for kids. Not only is it a great bonding experience for parent and child, but it can also provide opportunities to teach important life skills, like following a recipe, measuring ingredients, choosing healthy options and being safe in the kitchen. We share our top tips for teaching kids to cook while keeping them safe below.
Child oven safety needs to be a priority long before kids are old enough to help with cooking. Curious toddlers are drawn to the oven when they see mom and dad using it, so make sure your child is never in the kitchen unsupervised while the oven is on. If your oven does not have one built in, you should also invest in an oven safety lock that will prevent young children from opening the oven door while allowing adults to easily lift the door up and down.
Additionally, it's important to talk to your child about necessary oven safety procedures, such as turning in the handles of pots or pans on the stove to avoid accidental spillage, using oven mitts to prevent burns, and paying attention to any oven warning lights. Make sure that you also follow these tips to set an example for your little ones.
Rather than jumping right into gourmet cooking lessons, it's easier to start with small tasks at a young age and gradually increase what your child can help with. Be sure that all potentially dangerous items are out of reach of young children - little hands can reach onto counters or the stove and pull down anything they can grab. Investing in a "play" kitchen of their own is a great way to let kids mimic putting food into the oven and using the stovetop.
Some suggestions for teaching kids to cook by age (always with adult supervision) are below. Keep in mind that the suggestions below are only a guide; it's ultimately up to you to decide when your little one is ready for each "cooking" task.
No matter when your child is ready to start helping out with cooking, make sure to stress oven safety in the kitchen. Never leave food unattended, and always supervise your child's use of kitchen tools and appliances. Refer to Safekids.org's tips on cooking safety for more information.
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