Healthy and Safe Kitchen Habits to Teach Children

When it comes to having kids in the kitchen, there are a few healthy and safe habits to develop early. And some seasoned cooks could be reminded as well.

As is evident from the bountiful photos on the blog of the boys helping me cook, you can tell they love to cook in the kitchen with me. But before they started learning to cook, we went over a few safety rules to help keep everyone healthy and safe.

These are great basics to go over with children as they start to work in the kitchen, but they are also great reminders for the seasoned cook as well. It never hurts to have a reminder of what we can do to while we are preparing food for our families.

Originally Published On: February 8, 2018

Last Updated On: April 21, 2020

Personal Hygiene Kitchen Habits

Wash Hands

Before you do anything at all, wash your hands. Wash them well. Don’t skip out on this because your hands can carry bacteria that will then be transferred to the food you are prepping. Make sure to practice safe hand washing: use hot water, use antibacterial soap, wash for at least 20 seconds, dry with a clean towel. But remember, it’s not only essential to wash your hands before you start cooking, but also any time you come in contact with a contaminant in the kitchen.

Don’t Touch your Hair

Healthy & Safe Kitchen Habits to Teach Children

One of those contaminants that you want to watch out for is your hair. I don’t care how often you wash your hair, you don’t want to be touching it while you are cooking. For one thing, hair is not always clean. And another, you really don’t want any hair to fall into the food you are preparing. There’s a reason chefs wear a hat or hairnet besides the style!

Wear Safe Clothing

Kid-Friendly Lemon Bar Dessert Recipe

There are multiple opportunities for clothing to cause a problem when you are in the kitchen. Beware of loose clothing because it could become a fire hazard, especially if you are working with a gas stovetop. Roll up any long sleeves, and don’t forget to tie back long hair that could also get in the way. One of the best things to wear is a cooking apron because it helps hold the clothing back and protects your clothes from getting dirty while you are cooking.

In the Kitchen

Avoid Cross-Contamination

Healthy & Safe Kitchen Habits to Teach Children

Avoid cross-contamination at all costs. Cross-contamination is defined as ‘the process by which bacteria or other microorganisms are unintentionally transferred from one substance or object to another, with harmful effect.’ In other words, keep raw ingredients away from finished foods. Raw meat is the worst, especially chicken. Anything that touches raw foods needs to be thoroughly cleaned before used again.

Clean Everything

Healthy & Safe Kitchen Habits to Teach Children

Clean as you cook to help keep surfaces free from bacteria (no cross-contamination, remember?). Don’t forget about the utensils as well as any cutting boards that are used with raw foods. This also goes for cleaning up everything when you are done cooking. You don’t want to leave dirty dishes sitting for hours after you are done since they can start to build up bacteria.

Take Your Time

Healthy & Safe Kitchen Habits to Teach Children

Make sure to read through the ingredients and instructions carefully so you don’t miss a step. And don’t try to rush around the kitchen. Unless something is on fire, you should not be running or rushing around. This can cause accidents which, in the kitchen, usually can cause some type of injury. Stirring something too fast can make it splatter. Trying to increase the heat to lower the cook time can result in burned food. When you are making a new recipe, give yourself extra time so you make sure to do it properly.

Accidents and Spills

Clean Up Spills

Healthy & Safe Kitchen Habits to Teach Children

If you spill something, anything, clean it up immediately. Don’t leave a bit of water on the ground that you or someone else can slip on, especially because that person may be carrying sharp or hot objects. If it’s only water, a regular dish towel will suffice. If you spill something sticky, make sure to use some soap. And if you spill something gross (like raw egg or drop a piece of meat) then you want to make sure to use something that will kill the germs. I like to keep a spray bottle with some OnGuard essential oils and water in the kitchen for the gross spills.

Basic First Aid

Healthy & Safe Kitchen Habits to Teach Children

There are so many opportunities for accidents in the kitchen, but don’t let that deter you from cooking, or from letting your children learn to cook with you. Just make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit in the house and know some basic first aid techniques.

Working in the Kitchen

31 thoughts on “Healthy and Safe Kitchen Habits to Teach Children”

  1. I can’t reinforce wash hands enough to my kids, I am obsessed and make sure they do so at all times. Your little Chef is adorable.

  2. Wash your hands is something I must repeat a lot to my children since it is flu season. All of your tips are great reminders for kids and even some adults. The teddy bear is so cute.

  3. Your kid is so adorable! It’s so important for children to learn kitchen skills, you’re a great mom!
    And I have to tell you, these are lessons for adults too, every time I cut a spicy pepper I learn that it’s important to wash your hands after! lol.

  4. I don’t have kids yet but I can relate to it somehow. I always tell my family always clean the kitchen as they cook. Your kids are adorable 🙂

  5. Great suggestions. My kids have the wash hands down pat. They wash them before I tell them. Lol, I go to tell them and they let me know it’s done because they already knew they were going to help me. My kids love to help but, safety is a must.

  6. These are all things I was shown as a child and they stick with you. I enjoyed reading his refresher and will be sharing with my nieces.

  7. theclutterboxblog

    The hair rule is definitely hard for me as it’s always in my face and not long enough to pull back yet. But it’s such an important one. I have never thought about wearing safe clothing, especially for kids, definitely something I’ll do!

  8. These are some great tips for the family especially the kids. I make sure to tell my family everything has germs. Wash your hands before you cook or but anything in your mouth.

  9. These are important things to teach your children in the kitchen. Definitely washing your hands for at least three minutes. Cleaning as you go does help although it’s difficult when I am planning large meals. But definitely clean as soon as possible.

  10. I think these habits is useful not only for children but for adults too. The hair rule is so important for adults too as most of the time we either forget to tie it up or we are lazy enough to do it. Washing hands before and after is something I never forget and make sure that my child also doesn’t forget to do that. 🙂

  11. Really useful post! My mother was a cook, so she taught me from a young age but not everyone has this privilege of having a pro teach you. I hope this encourages more parents to teach their little ones!

  12. Establishing kitchen rules for kids sets a foundation for safe practices and enhances their cooking skills. Thanks for helping parents make sure their little ones are familiar with these basic principles.

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