Are your kitchen gadgets are safe for little hands?
Every parent wonders when their child is ready to start using kitchen tools such as peelers and knives. Through the eyes of a child that overstuffed drawer looks like a toy box full of fun. Because we use peelers, mashers, and cutters in our home kitchens on a regular basis, children will naturally be curious about them. And kids are great copy-cats. We want them to be, this is how they learn.
If your child is on the move and tall enough to reach the counter with those adorable little chunky arms, it’s time we address the elephant in the room. All children will have a natural interest in the variety of shiny small wares we all own. Parents, it’s time. Another opportunity for a teaching point has exposed itself.
Given the right equipment and an opportunity to use correctly, your child will be able to manage peelers, paring knives, and other kitchen gear with surprising dexterity and confidence, but without the proper training, those tools can also be hurtful to small hands. When making your determinations, keep in mind every child is different. You should make a decision based on the child’s ability to focus, their desire to learn, and their dexterity.
Children 5 to 9 can handle peeling tasks, mashing and stirring. Remember to guide small hands at first. The more often they hear, “peel away from your hands, not toward them,” or “stir slowly “ the better. Have them peel over a paper towel for easy cleanup. Always place a slightly damp paper towel under the child’s cutting board or bowl to keep things from moving around. Always think safety first.
Children 7 and up are usually ready to begin using a paring knife. While cutting round vegetables like carrots help keep their hands further apart from one another. Any product with a round surface should be made flat before proceeding. Cut the onion in half before giving it to your child. Make sure they begin with the flat side down on the cutting board. This will stabilize the product and create a much safer workstation for your child. Start this age group with vegetables that offer a little less resistance and easier to cut, such as zucchini, potatoes, eggplant, squash or cucumbers.
Kids 10 and older can use larger knives and tackle more challenging cutting jobs. Even though these kids show more dexterity keep an eye on them. As you might already have noticed, this age breeds confidence which will lead to increased speed which can lead to cuts. A gentle reminder to slow down is often the best way to keep someone on the right road.
Make sure all your knives are sharp. If by chance, ( and let’s hope not ) someone does get cut- First aid from a sharp knife will be easier to care for as opposed to a dangerous jagged cut from a dull knife.
Parent smart, not hard.