Cooking with the Family

Let’s eat! Cooking with the kids can be a fun and creative way to spend time together as a family. “We know eating and cooking together is great for family bonding, but we want to make sure all members of the family have a safe and fun time while helping out in the kitchen,” says Dayton Children’s food equity manager Emily Callen. “There are so many great recipes to be made. Here are a few things we need to keep in mind while we are cooking with kids.” 

  1. Involve children in cooking activities by identifying skills appropriate for the child’s age. This may include measuring ingredients, reading labels and stirring non-heated items.
  2. Wash your hands well at the start of any cooking adventure. Wash them again when handling any raw meat or eggs, or anytime they feel dirty.
  3. Whenever you are cooking in the kitchen, be sure to turn any handles on pots and pans inward so they are not hanging over the edge of the stove or countertop, and use the back burners first when possible. It is very easy for a child to reach up and try to grab that pan and have hot ingredients spill on top of them.
  4. Microwaves are often mounted high on the wall over the stove. This makes children standing around the stove more vulnerable to spills and burns from microwaves.
  5. Any time knives are being used in the kitchen, make sure that kids are watched under very close supervision. Practice keeping fingers tucked in and make sure they go nice and slow. If they are too young to use a knife, make sure the knives are stored on the back part of the counter, or in a drawer out of reach.
  6. When cleaning up, make sure that you aren’t dropping any knives or sharp objects into soapy water. Leave those to the side, and clean them when you are ready. If you plunge your hand into soapy water with knives in it, you can easily cut yourself. 
  7. Clean and disinfect the counter surfaces after placing any uncooked meat in the oven. Then it’s safe to begin preparing other, non-meat dishes.
  8. Make sure your kitchen has a first-aid kit and fire extinguisher readily available. 

What happens if an injury occurs in the kitchen?

Cooking can lead to injuries, ranging from minor to severe. Here are the most common injuries Dayton Children’s emergency department sees related to cooking:

  • Cuts and minor wounds: If a cut occurs, make sure to use a clean paper towel or gauze to apply pressure to the wound until the bleeding stops. Wash the wound with warm soapy water. Dry the wound, apply an antibacterial cream (like Neosporin) and bandage. 
  • Burns: If you get a minor burn, run the affected area under cold water until you feel relief. Then dry the area, apply a burn ointment, and bandage. Kids’ skin is thinner than adults; burns can be severe and may need specialized treatment. If the burn is severe, seek medical attention. 

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