Kids in the Kitchen – Monday Cooking Tip #9: Knife Safety

By Diana K. Rice, The Kids Cook Monday staff dietitian KE-special-feature

Common sense rightly tells you to keep your chef’s knife far out of the reach of your child, no matter how old he may be. Yet knives are an essential culinary tool, and as kids are learning to cook it’s important for them to understand knife safety in the kitchen.

Around age two, children can begin performing simple cutting tasks with a plastic knife. As your child’s dexterity improves, you might consider purchasing a plastic chef’s knife specifically designed for children. Although these tools are perfectly safe, it’s important to get children into the habit of using a knife properly so they’ll be prepared when the day comes that they’re ready for a real knife.

Teach them the “bear claw” method. Show them how to make a claw with the fingers of the hand they’re using to hold the food, which will keep little fingertips away from the blade. Then, holding the knife in their dominant hand, place the tip firmly on the cutting board above the food and show them how to “chomp” down in a lever-like motion.

Determining when your child is ready for a real knife takes some discretion. Consider factors such as his age and overall maturity, his interest in cooking and his ability to follow directions. You might start him off with a worn steak knife and graduate him to his own true cooking blade once you feel he can use it safely.

Diana Rice

Diana K. Rice, RD is a registered dietitian on staff with The Kids Cook Monday, a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns at The Kids Cook Monday
In her role as RD and recipe editor, Diana writes and speaks on the many benefits of introducing children to culinary and nutrition education in the home environment and works to provide parents and educators with high-quality resources to aid in the process. She is also an advocate for the many social and health benefits of regular family dinners. At The Monday Campaigns, Diana also contributes to the organization’s largest initiative, Meatless Monday.

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