By: Issy Lovett
Injury is the leading cause of fatalities for children in America and the kitchen can be a particularly hazardous place. However, there is always a dilemma for parents – you want your children to learn how to cook, but you don’t want them to injure themselves. They need to be able to learn how to use a knife safely, so that ultimately they will not only be able to assist in the kitchen, but also be able to prepare and cook food independently. Teaching knife safety can be done when children are really young, so that soon enough, they know exactly how to hold and move a knife safely – good knife techniques will then become second nature.
Choosing the right knife for the job
Most kitchens would have at least half a dozen different shape and size knives to choose from. When do you decide to pick a carving knife instead of a chef’s knife? One of the first things that you will need to teach your child, is what the job is of each of the knives in the kitchen. Start with the smallest everyday knife – the vegetable knife, also known as the utility knife. This is used primarily for chopping and slicing fruits, vegetables and herbs. Children as young as 7 or 8 should be able to use a utility knife carefully. Wait until they are older before introducing them to the bigger knives in the kitchen.
Looking after knives properly
It is important to explain to children that they must look after their knives properly. A blunt knife can be as dangerous as one that is very sharp. They also need to be stored properly to keep them in good condition. This is also important, so that your child doesn’t accidentally cut themselves when trying to remove a knife from a drawer or knife rack. If your child is a little older, it is a good idea to get them their own knife set that they are completely responsible for looking after. A small set of Japanese kitchen knives is a good idea – they are something to be treasured that they will have for the rest of their lives. These kitchen knives are multifunctional and can be used for so many kitchen tasks from peeling to slicing.
Passing a knife to somebody else
One thing that you should practise with your child, is passing a knife between you and moving around the kitchen with it. If you are passing a knife to somebody else, you should always do this so that the end of the handle is facing them. Never try and pass a knife to somebody with the blade facing them. You should also explain that if you are carrying a knife across the kitchen, then you should do this by holding the handle, with the point of the knife facing the floor – it should never face your body.
Learning to chop and slice
The Curious Chef Nylon Knife Set is ideal for learning to chop and slice safely. The knives have a unique, Nylon serrated blade with a blunt tip – it is much safer than a traditional metal knife, but still very effective. The handles are also ergonomically designed to include soft button grips, helping your child to hold the knife easily. Chopping and slicing is an essential kitchen skill that should be practised regularly. Spend time whenever you can in the kitchen with your children. Give them different soft fruits and vegetables to practise on, showing them the correct place to put their fingers. You will always need to completely supervise younger children when they practice their knife skills. Teach them to cut following the natural curve of the blade, as close to the chopping board as possible. You should also show them how to chop vegetables, making sure that the knife is at a 45° angle to their body.
Teaching your children good knife skills is essential so that they can become more independent. It is a great way to share time together in the kitchen, creating delicious and nutritious meals.
Issy Lovett is a full time mom to two girls and a busy writer. She is trying to instill a love of gardening and growing your own produce into her children, and often has them in the kitchen with her to help prep meals and learn about the joys of cooking.