Should young children be allowed in the kitchen?
I have a friend whose husband insists that no child must ever set foot in the kitchen. The oldest of the children is 3 years old and the youngest, 5 months old. So even if the 3-year old wants to drink water, she is not allowed to go into the kitchen to get her cup herself. She would have to ask an adult to get the cup for her.
The 6-month old too must never be found in the kitchen. As in, anyone carrying him must first put him down before setting foot in the kitchen.
Now, that’s one family. There’s another family that insists that whenever mommy is cooking, the children must stand in the kitchen with her, watching and learning.
To be honest, I am sympathetic towards both sides of this coin.
Looking at family A – You know it doesn’t take one minute for an accident to occur. Besides, an adult’s reflex reaction to approaching danger is quite different from that of a child, who is likely to react a little too late. For example, my reaction to a sudden splash of oil will be different from that of a 2-year old.
Also, even under the close watch of adults, children are still known to get into trouble. For example, mommy may look away for one second only for the child, out of curiosity, to reach for a hot pot on the cooker. My daughter has actually sneaked into the kitchen and placed her play pots on the burners. I was a bit shaken because even though the gas had been turned off from the mains, imagine if she had turned on the cooker knobs before leaving the kitchen. Then an adult, not knowing what had earlier taken place, had entered the kitchen, turned on the gas from the mains and lit a matchstick. What a catastrophe that would have been!
However, on the other hand, if we keep these little ones away, how would they learn? How would they get interested in the art of cooking?
With that said, here’s my own two cents on the matter. Here’s what I would advise parents of babies and toddlers:
1.Be careful how you multitask with your baby. For example, don’t hold your baby with one hand and stir a boiling pot of stew with the other hand. You may think you are being very careful but accidents do happen! Actually, it’s risky taking babies into the kitchen, even when you think the baby is safely tucked behind your back. I know it’s hard for moms who have little or no help around the house. But still, try and come up with a plan which does not involve multitasking with your baby in hand.
2.Young children must never be allowed into the kitchen unsupervised. Don’t give them room to get tempted into experimenting with dangerous stuffs on their own. It doesn’t take more than one second for an accident to occur.
3.Yes, the little ones can come in and help out. But please, don’t give them tasks involving dangerous objects like kitchen knives, matchboxes, lit cookers, ovens etc. Instead you could for example, give them the cake mixture to stir, allow them turn the mix into the baking pan but you must be the one putting the pan into the oven.
4.Personally, by the time I turn on the cooker and begin activities such as frying, I would rather the children leave at that point because one careless wave of hand or splash of oil may result in an accident. However, if you insist on having the children around (which I insist is unadvisable), be sure to use the back burners.
5.While in the kitchen, there must be no running or goofing around. Kitchen business is serious business.
6.Keep dangerous objects such as knives, far out of reach
7.Also keep stools away from the children. Not just stools, but also any other object which may give the child the height advantage needed to reach dangerous objects that have been purposely kept away
8.Teach the children to be safety conscious by constantly reminding them stuffs like the oven is hot, hot, hot and knives are sharp, sharp, sharp. You could also make songs out of this, encouraging them to get an adult to help them when handling such.
9.Be sure that the kids only help out when you have time on your hands. This is because when you are in a hurry, you are likely to –
- Turn your back on them more often and in the process, give them seconds of unsupervised time that could lead to accidents
- Work your way around with a speed that may lead to accidents
- Get upset with the children if they slow you down or make their unavoidable messes
So that’s my own take on the matter. What’s yours? Do share with us…
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