There are so many reasons to invite your kids to help you cook in the kitchen! Maybe most important, when your kids are part of preparing the meal they’re more likely to eat it, too. That means you might be able to turn a picky eater into a more adventurous one if they’re part of the cooking team.
But the kitchen also poses some serious risks to pint-sized chefs. So before they put on an apron, check out this list of activities for kids ages 10 and under to avoid. As they get older, preteens and teens can do more kitchen tasks.
Sharpen a knife. Dull knives can be more dangerous to kids than sharp ones. Little fingers will have to manipulate the knife to try to make it cut vegetables or fruits. The knife can then slip out of your child’s hands and injure her. It’s better for her to use a smaller, sharp knife. That said, children shouldn’t be the ones sharpening a knife.
Grating cheese. Save the grating until your child is a little older. Grating cheese looks deceptively simple – and that’s the problem. Big blocks of cheese are difficult for kids to hold. The cheese block can come out of your kid’s hand making his fingers susceptible to being hurt.
Using the garbage disposal. It’s so easy to flip the switch to turn on the garbage disposal. But it’s also simple for kids to thoughtlessly stick their fingers into the drain to retrieve a small spoon or maybe a ring that falls down the drain. Warn your kids they’re not allowed to use the disposal.
Handle raw meats. Cutting and preparing raw meats can lead to cross-contamination – germ alert! Kids may not appreciate the germs that can lurk on cutting boards, knives and even under fingernails. It’s probably best that an adult cut up the meat and deal with the clean up.
Use slicers and mandolins. Automated or even hand-held cutters like slicers and mandolins are difficult to use properly. Like grating cheese, little fingers may be vulnerable to complex cutters.
Cooking with waffle makers. Hot irons paired with even hotter steam rising from a baking waffle can lead to trouble for younger kids. Then, there’s the difficulty of removing the waffle from the maker once it’s cooked.
Placing food in and out of the oven. It’s not just that the oven is hot – but for kids to put a pot or baking pan into the oven they’ll need to use hot mitts. This is more of a preteen or teen task.
Straining boiling pasta. A big pot of boiling water is difficult to maneuver from a hot stovetop to the sink. Kids need to lift the pot above the sink – while using hot pads – and then pour it through a strainer and into the sink. There are a lot of chances for some of that boiling water to spill over. Yikes!
Getting food out of steamers. Do you have a rice steamer? Don’t let your kids remove the rice. As with boiling pasta, kids need to be careful with steam, which can look harmless. But that steam can easily burn skin.