Here are some suggestions on how to keep the kitchen clean and safe for your mini chefs.
Hand-washing. It’s important to be strict about hand-washing. You need to show them how to use warm water and soap, scrub well, and dry their hands in order to prevent spreading germs. The ideal amount of time for hand-washing is at least 20 seconds. While hand sanitizers are good for when you’re in a pinch in public, it’s best to teach children to wash their hands in the sink when they are cooking.
Using knives. Small children, as young as two years old, can use plastic knives, metal butter knives, and lettuce cutters with close supervision. Keep a close watch on little fingers when they use those tools!
In case of emergencies. It’s a good idea to store a fire extinguisher in a spot that older children can reach and teach them how to use it. Remind kids what to do if there is a fire: they should not throw water on it but, rather, they should find an adult who can cut off its oxygen supply (like putting a lid on a pot or keeping the oven shut). All children should be taught how to call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency.
Cross-contamination. It’s important to note that any time you are working with meat, poultry or fish, you should use a clean plastic or glass cutting board (versus wood which is porous and can absorb bacteria). You must never cut animal products and then use the same knife or cutting board to cut fruits or vegetables. Instead, the knife and board should be thoroughly cleaned with hot soapy water (or in a dishwasher) and air dried. Kids should also be reminded to wash their hands thoroughly after working with meat, poultry, fish, or eggs.
Excerpt from Easy Meals to Cook with Kids © 2010 by Julie Negrin