Recipe for Holiday Success: How to Safely Teach Your Children the Joys of Cooking and Baking

I love baking with the kids. Sister enjoys measuring and mixing the ingredients, brother loves taste testing! It’s never a tidy activity but we always have fun with it. So when Daniel Sherwin, from Dadsolo, reached out to me about writing a post as a guest blogger on safely teaching your kids the joys of cooking and baking I could say no?!

Photo courtesy of Pixabay by laterjay

Those of us who enjoy cooking or baking know it’s a creative form of self-expression, relaxation, and joy, and the holiday season is a perfect time to partake in your favorite pastime even more and possibly pass on the love to your kids. As it turns out, your favorite pastime might actually be good for your mental, physical, and emotional well-being, too. That’s right; science says cooking and baking reduce stress and associated physical, mental, and emotional conditions.

If you’re looking to limit your child’s screen time, cooking or baking with your children can be an excellent alternative to computers and Minecraft, especially during long winter breaks from school or snow days. By spending time together in the kitchen, you’ll prepare your kids for a lifetime of healthier, happier choices. Just like hobbies such as painting or playing guitar, cooking and baking provide children (and adults) with an outlet for creative expression, as well as a way to communicate our love for others and spread the spirit of the season.

Start by choosing easy, age-appropriate recipes. Delegate tasks to your child that can be performed safely. Cooking and baking also provide an excellent opportunity to teach your child about germ control and food safety. If your child has long hair, teach him or her to pull it back prior to making food. Remind your children to keep their hands clean, and to wash frequently to avoid cross-contamination of foods.

Never give knives to young children. When you feel your child is ready to start cooking with knives, start with a plastic knife or butter knife and teach them how to safely hold and use the knife.

As your child gets older and more confident in the kitchen, you may begin teaching more independent tasks, such as using the can opener or microwave. Children above the age of twelve are often capable of much more complex recipes; however, you should still supervise your child at all times while cooking or baking.

Fire prevention is another important consideration. Kitchen fires do happen, and are a common occurrence what with all the cooking for holiday parties and gatherings, so never gamble when it comes to the safety of your family or your home. Here are some expert tips on how to prevent fires and handle unanticipated emergencies:

1. Test your smoke detector. Testing your smoke detector regularly is one of the most important things you can do to protect your home from a fire. Because three out of five house fires involve homes without working smoke detectors, having a working smoke detector with good batteries can spell the difference between life or death.

To keep your family and your home out of harm’s way, you can add a recurring monthly reminder to your smartphone or calendar to test your smoke detector. Experts also recommend adding a reminder to change your smoke detector’s batteries once every six months. Even if your home breaks out in a fire, the results can be much less severe if your smoke detector is in good condition with working batteries.

2. Never leave children unattended. Keep watch over your child in the kitchen, especially if you have young children or kids (and teens) who are new to cooking or baking. It is important to never leave your child in the kitchen unsupervised. You might also teach your children a house rule: that they only cook or bake when an adult is in the room to supervise.

3. Plan for emergencies. Just in case of an emergency, make sure there is a fire extinguisher in your home… and learn how to use it. Teach your children how to safely evacuate the home in case of a house fire. Tell your children how to contact 9-1-1 in the event of an accident, fire, or other unexpected emergency. Hopefully, you’ll never have to do any of these things but just in case, it’s important the entire family is educated on what to do.

Cooking or baking together as a family is a fun way to bond while teaching confidence, self reliance, healthy food choices, and other life skills. Your children will have a lifelong creative outlet, which will benefit their mental, emotional, and physical health. By adding kitchen safety to the mix, you’ll be helping them create a delicious recipe for continued success for years to come, and pass on a holiday tradition you can enjoy together for years to come.

Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.

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