Kids’ Kitchen – how to make your community kitchen safe for children
November 1, 2023 by wpjX9tncTJIl
If you welcome a lot of younger visitors to your community centre or church hall, you might have a long list of activities to keep them entertained… but if kitchen time isn’t on it, you are missing an activity that will delight both them and their parents.
After all, cooking is one of the best skills you can teach them: it helps them to be independent, live healthily, and build their confidence. However, many activity organisers may prefer not to invite children into a kitchen if they are worried about their health and safety.
Making a kitchen child-friendly means nothing more than looking out for a few additional trouble spots – and it’s even easier if your kitchen is designed to be hygienic and hard-wearing like a Steelplan semi-commercial kitchen.
If you don’t know where (or why) to start, here’s some advice that will put you on the right track.
1. DON’T BE AFRAID TO START VERY YOUNG
Planning easy cooking activities for children is fun – but it’s worth remembering that toddlers and ‘tweens’ have very different skills.
Parents can involve children in cooking as early as 2-3 years old, as this is when they are starting to develop their fine motor skills. Of course, they will want to be present when they are in your kitchen.
Children at this age can help to knead and roll dough, or mix and pour ingredients. At 4-5 years, they can often start to cut and prepare fruits and vegetables – don’t worry: you can provide them with non-stick nylon knives as the perfect safe option to help them gain confidence with cutting.
2. ALWAYS ENSURE A COMPETENT ADULT IS PRESENT
It may sound obvious, but it’s imperative that an adult (or adults) keep an eye on their little chefs.
The younger the children you are supervising, the more adults will be needed to ensure that they stay safe – guidance from the NSPCC suggests that an adult per 3 to 8 children be present (depending on their age).
Top tip: One way to make sure you have enough adults is to plan for parent-and-child sessions. It’s a brilliant bonding experience for them (and it relieves a bit of the pressure on you, too.)
3. INSTALL CHILDPROOF LOCKS ON DOORS, CABINETS AND FOOD STORAGE
In a community centre or church hall, assume that children can and will find their way to your kitchen: staff and parents can’t keep an eye on children 100% of the time.
This is why locks are needed on your entry/exit door to prevent them from getting in – but even when you are supervising them, you will also need to lock up knives, sharps, heavy appliances, and – of course – cleaning products such as detergent and dishwasher pods.
This also applies to fridges and freezers, where they may get access to raw or uncooked food.
Top tip: your kitchen design can make this a lot simpler. Storing appliances in single/two-tiered open trestles may look nice, but this leaves them accessible to children. Ensure all your appliances are locked behind cabinets with doors to prevent children from reaching them.
4. OPT FOR INDUCTION HOBS OVER GAS HOBS
If you are planning to refurbish or replace your kitchen in your community hub, choosing induction hobs over gas hobs is a wise choice if you intend to host children’s cooking classes.
This is because induction hobs will turn off and cool far quicker than a gas stove or electric hotplate once a pan is removed.
While a child shouldn’t be near a hob without your supervision, you don’t have eyes in the back of your head, and if they reach an induction hob, they are much less likely to burn their hands.
5. TEACH GOOD HABITS AT A YOUNG AGE – AND LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Children learn through imitation – and by showing them the right habits, such as cleaning their workspaces and washing their hands after handling foods, they can start to grow in confidence… and save you from cleaning up a lot of mess.
Kitchen hygiene isn’t difficult, but we all have our own bad habits – we published a list of 10 kitchen hygiene commandments here, in case you need to refresh your memory on good kitchen etiquette.
Bonus Tip: Don’t let your kitchen work against you
Cooking with children will be a lot of boisterous, messy fun. If your community kitchen is made of a material like MDF, it won’t be able to withstand a lot of wear and tear: it will soak up grease, spills and mess, which won’t just make it look like an art room – but will make it unhygienic, too.
Even if you coat surfaces such as kitchen doors in a protective vinyl wrap film, the inevitable bubbles and loose bits will be very tempting for children to pick at.
All in all, it’s not ideal.
A polyester powder-coated mild steel kitchen from Steelplan is the perfect kitchen for your community hub. It’s long-lasting, hard-wearing, and available in as many colours as you can imagine. Designed with your space in mind by experts in food safety and hygiene, it’s also effortless to keep hygienic and clean – which are two things any parent or activity planner will be grateful for.
Steelplan semi-commercial kitchens are designed with community centres and church halls in mind to be durable, hygienic and welcoming.
If you want to see what a new kitchen looks like in your space, take advantage of our free, no-obligation design and consultation service by clicking here – all our kitchen design experts need is a quick chat, and a few images of your space to produce a beautiful visual mockup of your new child-friendly kitchen.