After a lot of “Ekkk!” moments, learning what was safe, not-safe, and not-as-safe-as-I-thought-it was, here are the keys to making a kid-friendly kitchen:
1. CREATE A KID CABINET
This is a place for a toddler to explore. In our house, it contains lots of tupperware. Of course, I don’t call it the “kid cabinet” because that would take away all the excitement of wreaking havoc. The tupperware bins become building blocks to stack and nest, cups to practice pouring, and they scatter nicely.
2. TAG A WORK SPACE JUST FOR THEM
The floor is an excellent work space for a child, especially a small child. They just can’t fall very far. I have had poor experience with counters. Imagine Mingus at 14 months lunging off the edge. I snatched him mid-air, as he howled “hurt, hurt!”. He was angry; I was horrified. So, we do most of our work on the floor or at two wee sized desks that permanently block our cabinets.
3. PUT DOWN AN “OVEN LINE”
We have a strip of orange painter’s tape stuck to the floor about 6 feet away from the oven. When I am about to put something in/take something out, I remind the boys, “Get behind the oven line!” It works great.
4. SET ASIDE A SHARPS DRAWER
Anything sharp that’s not in our knife block goes in the “sharps drawer” This is off-limits. It houses a can opener, a corkscrew, a bottle opener, a variety of graters, etc… this frees up every other drawer to discoveries and makes the kids more independent. The boys frequently raid my tool collection, which is really not mine any longer.
5. OPEN UP THE TOOL DRAWER
An open drawer policy for the rest of the tools lets the kids know they’re actually part of the process. We often begin a cooking project when Mingus brings a tool to me and says, “I want to make something with this!” It’s a great source of inspiration.