This week’s Saturday Sidebar Question comes from World Moms Blog writer Eva Fannon. She asked our writers,
“I’ve got two very willing volunteers in the kitchen, (2 & 6 yo), and I need help finding ways to incorporate their help while still keeping them safe. Any ideas?”
Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…
Lady E of Indonesia writes:
“My son has been in the kitchen since he was a newborn, and now loves to mix and pour, crack eggs, use the beater, and he cooks eggs when I am next to him. I am slowly teaching him knife skills, but with tight supervision. I think the main thing is always explaining the process, why we do things the way that we do, and what we need to do in order to stay safe. He also loves to look through cookbooks and plan a menu. My son is a very picky, difficult eater. Involving him in the process has helped to add a few items onto his “will eat list.”
Karyn Van Der Zwet of New Zealand writes:
I am a bit more relaxed with sharp knives than most parents, and expect our kids to cut themselves a few times before they learn to keep themselves safe. Our boys started using knives from around 15 months and even the three year-old is pretty competent at slicing stuff – importantly they also learned (without me saying anything) when they couldn’t manage and will all ask for help if they think the task is likely to end in injury – slicing carrots springs to mind here. With the stove-top I teach them to hold the handle to the oven (or some other near object) with one hand while they stir things on elements. If they are near to an element, and I know it’s hot, I’ll tell them that it is on.
I never predict the future. That is, I never tell our kids they ‘will’ cut themselves, or that they ‘will’ burn themselves, or that they ‘will’ grate their fingers etc. I focus on real, concreteation like: the stove is hot; the knife is sharp; the grater is like lots of little knives. I also differentiate between tools and toys – knives etc are useful, but not for playing with. This way all of our kids, even the three year-old, have learned to manage the equipment – with a few woopsies on the way – and learn they can manage risk and they can manage when things don’t go according to plan.
Maman Aya of New York, USA writes:
I had my son in the kitchen with me since he was 2 or 3 years old (and now that my daughter is 2.5 years old she is interested in helping). At that age, he was mixing, adding a shake or 2 of this spice or that one. I would cut up veggies and he would put it into the bowl. Squeeze a lemon or add a pre-measured ingredient to the bowl and small things like that. Now that he is 6, I allow him to cut up veggies himself (I’ll make the long more difficult cuts, but he can do the shorter ones, using one of the less sharp paring knives). He is also very tall, so sometimes, I will let him stir something on the stove (that will not splatter), with me standing over him, showing him the proper way to stir and hold the handle. I also ask them for their input for what they want to eat. I’ll sometimes give them choices between a few dishes to help with meal planning. They are both interested in helping, so I let them do what they can.
Meredith of Nigeria writes:
Both of my children (4 and 7 years old) love to help in the kitchen and I have taught them from the very beginning to not handle knives. They are pretty good listeners so that hasn’t been an issue, they also have always known that the stove and oven are HOT and not to touch. I let them do all the mixing and if the stove is on while they are mixing, I am right there. They love to add ingredients for cookies and pancakes and help mix. So far they have helped mix and use rolling pins and help frost cakes. I haven’t let them handle the knives yet:). I have them help fill the measuring cups to the right number and measure out teaspoons, etc.
Polish Mom Photographer of California, USA writes:
When my older daughter was about 2 I let her climb on a stool next to me and play with a piece of dough or simply with her own toys, but while watching me cook. One time I had walked away for a second and she burned her hand touching a hot stove. It wasn’t a bad burn, it actually wasn’t a burn at all, just a little red spot, but since that day she knows what “hot” means and whenever I say “something is hot”, she knows what that means and she stays away from it. She learned it the hard way.
I do not let her play with knives, but spoons and forks are ok. I let her empty the dish washer with me, and she loves it!
Tina@Truly Rich Mom of Philippines writes:
Our kids are almost the same age! Our boy is 6 years old and our girl is 3 years old. We just make sure they know the “safety rules,” and keep them away from the hot stove. We let them “wash” the dishes (mostly the non-breakable pieces). We don’t have a dishwasher. We let them stir and mix ingredients, play with the pots and pans, etc.
What about you… How do you let your children help you in the kitchen?
And do you have a question you would like to pose to our WMB writers? If so, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see what they have to say.
– World Moms Blog
This Saturday Sidebar column has been compiled and edited by our World Mom, Purnima of India.
Photo credit to our World Moms, Meredith and Eva Fannon.