In many houses the kitchen is the hub of the home, where family spends time together. Whether the kids are doing their homework at the kitchen table, you like to bake together, or it’s just somewhere you all gather, it’s a room that gathers a lot of foot traffic and can become a busy space. We are currently in the process of designing a large kitchen diner for our home, in recognition of the importance of having a multi-function area. Two of the most important parts of the design are to make it accessible for me, and safe for our boys.
When you think of safety, the kitchen can be a hazardous place for children to be. Sharp knives, hot pans, kettles, and potentially dangerous substances stashed under the kitchen sink. It needs some careful planning and storage consideration to make it just right. So, how are we ensuring that their needs are met? Here are my top priorities:
Equip Them For Success
If you want your children to get involved in the kitchen and cook or bake with you, then stock a drawer with some child-size cooking tools. Full-sized tools can be difficult for little hands, so mini versions will be easier and safer for them. Cooking together as a family will be easier for everyone if they have their own equipment, and know where to find it. We have mini rolling pins, small metal baking dishes (perfect for individual pies), small plastic chopping boards and even safety knives designed for young people.
I would always recommend that you fit your kitchen cupboard doors with child locks to keep that out of anywhere that stores more dangerous items, but leave their designated storage easy to get into.
Help Them To Reach
When you’re a child, reaching the kitchen counters can be a problem. You can use a set of children’s step stools in your kitchen (sometimes called ‘learning towers’) to help your kids reach if they want to help with the cooking or with the dishes. This is much safer than having them climb on a chair. A set of steps is often the perfect height for work surfaces too and usually very affordable.
If your kids aren’t old enough to help you yet, but you need them to be in the kitchen so you can watch them while you cook, find ways to keep them busy so you can cook without worrying about curious little fingers getting in the way. If you’re pressed for space, spread out a roll of craft paper on the floor, tape it down, give your kids some colouring pencils or markers and let them go wild. This will keep them busy, in your eyeline, and help them see the kitchen as somewhere fun to be. My eldest son also used to enjoy spinning pan lids on an area of the kitchen floor, although that can become noisy!
Swap Drawer Handles
Designing a kitchen comes down to practicality and aesthetics. You can cover both of these by replacing standard drawer handles with a rounded pull instead. This type of pull works perfectly with small hands but, crucially, is much harder to use as a ladder to climb the cabinets and reach the work surfaces. Thankfully my boys are beyond that age now, but rounded pulls come in a variety of designs and I think they can look really nice and personalise a kitchen space too!
Give Them Their Own Spot
If you can, leave an area that can be entirely their space. Having lived with babies and toddlers in a house with a galley kitchen I know this isn’t always possible! Using a low stool in a corner might work well though, add a small box of play food and your child can pretend to be cooking whilst you are. Or you could keep child friendly recipe books within easy reach so that they can choose something you can make together. It’s a great way to get them involved, but also keeps them away from tasks that they aren’t yet old enough to help with.
Making the kitchen the hub of the home comes down to how you use it. Think about the small touches that make this a space where everyone in the family will want to be. A radio or smart speaker, a clear table that can be sat around to chat or scratch heads over maths homework, you might even like to add some window plants or an indoor herb garden. Getting the children involved by asking for their ideas is a lovely way to create a connected family space!
N.B. This is a collaborative post. For more information, please see my disclosure page.