Kitchens have gone through many changes over the last 150 years; their modern design being mostly a result of technological advances. With utilities like gas, water and electricity now intricately woven through its walls and cooking appliances and devices providing never ending aid, the kitchen is now a wonderland for the household chef.
At the same time, underneath all the culinary euphoria and excitement is a potentially perilous zone for small children. It’s not that merely being in the kitchen will cause them harm, but the simple truth is they just aren’t familiar with some of the dangers that exist.
The following are a few suggestions for providing a more user-friendly space for our children when joining us in the kitchen:
- Knives: It takes a few years before children begin understanding that knives and other sharp objects aren't toys. When not in use, return them to knife blocks, wall mounted magnetic bars, or cases - all in those hard to reach places. This will help prevent serious accidents.
- Stove top/oven: Heat is dangerous, but again, if you're a small child you may not realize it soon enough. When cooking, keep kids away from the stove, turn pot handles inward so they can't be grabbed or caught on something, and when the oven is baking keep kids out of the kitchen altogether until it has cooled off.
- Insecticide: Unfortunately, the kitchen can be a prime location for infestations that may require an exterminator. Nevertheless, we often choose to plant poison or traps and get rid of pests ourselves. If this is something you're considering, keep the following in mind: both sprays and dry products may give off toxic fumes, and if you go the eco-friendly route many products still cause bodily harm if ingested by humans. Whatever you use, make sure it's out of reach of your children.
- Counter space: Counters should be clear, open spaces with little chance of anything falling and injuring a child.
- Trash: We don’t always think about some of the things tossed in the garbage, but there could be broken glass or filth from cleaning agents. For this reason, use a closed container so if a trash can tips over your child won’t be easily exposed to unsafe substances.
- Furniture: A good precaution when it comes to furniture is to select pieces that have round edges. Furthermore, since kids sometimes scale tables and chairs, they should be sturdy and solid to help prevent a fall.
- Cabinets/drawers: Child proof cabinets and drawers that contain equipment, dishes, or other items which should be kept away from children. These include oven and dishwasher doors and other appliances that may be unsafe. Also, be cautious about hanging towels or aprons on handles or knobs, as kids can grab on these and start climbing. They may think it's fun, but this could allow them to reach areas that are supposed to off-limits, or worse, have a serious fall.
- The floor: Many kitchen floors can be very slippery when washed. Set up a barrier so if kids are running around they don’t pass through the kitchen until it's dry.
- Kitchen gate: It happens all too often that kids get hurt on stairs. If your kitchen has a door with a connecting stairwell, set up a childproof gate to block their passage.
- Table cloths: Although presentation says a lot, using tablecloths with toddlers can be a problem as they love to tug and pull on them which could send your dinner flying across the room. If you eat meals in the kitchen, placemats have good staying power and are a great alternative. Otherwise, find a permanent covering to protect the table that won't easily move around.