How to Make Your Kitchen Kid-Friendly
Your kitchen is the hub and heart of your home, and if kids are part of your family, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be included in kitchen-based activities. This means taking steps to make your kitchen as kid-friendly as possible.
A truly kid-friendly kitchen is one with the following properties:
- Kid-safe. Although the kitchen isn’t the most dangerous room in the home, it’s clear that there are plenty of serious kitchen-based hazards that need to be guarded against for adults and kids alike. Typical hazards in a kitchen include burns, cuts, falls, and electric shocks. The danger of fire is real in a kitchen, making a fire extinguisher and a working smoke alarm mandatory must-have accessories in any kitchen where children are expected to be present. Kitchens are also places where powerful cleaners are often stored (typically under the sink), so poisonings can occur unless these materials are placed in an inaccessible place. HealthyChildren.org – a site run by the American Academy of Pediatrics – has an excellent checklist for eliminating the most serious kitchen hazards for children. And although it should go without saying, we’ll say it again here: you should never leave children alone in your kitchen without an adult supervising the ongoing activities.
- Kid-accessible. Kids often dearly wish to get involved in kitchen tasks, but they will need easy access to all the required tools, utensils, and supplies. Consider dedicating a drawer, base cabinet, and lower-level fridge shelf for their exclusive use and label these areas accordingly. For work areas, the standard 36-inch height of a kitchen countertop may be too high for kids to be able to use them. Consider a lower-height kitchen island where your kids can do kitchen work, such as one that is 25 inches high and comes equipped with plenty of storage that can be dedicated to your kids’ exclusive use. Another important point: a kid-friendly kitchen should be roomy enough so that nobody gets in the way, so if you’re planning a kitchen remodel with kid-friendliness in mind, ask your kitchen designer about universal design-style kitchen designs, in which accessibility – for young and old folks alike – is baked right into the plan.
- Kid-engaging. You want to keep your kids engaged when they’re in the kitchen, so it’s important to make them feel as if they’re contributing to your mutual work. But obviously, you’re not going to give a 3-year old the same job you would a 10-year old. TheKidsCookMonday.com – a non-profit site built to encourage families to spend time together through cooking – has an excellent list of kitchen tasks appropriate for different age groups. Also, consider setting up an art/activity area in your kitchen to keep the little ones engaged. Epicurous.com has a good article and a map about creating engaging activity areas for kids in your kitchen.
- Kid-proof. Certain materials used in your kitchen will be more kid-proof than others. For countertops, engineered stone is an excellent choice because of its scratch- and stain-resistant qualities, as are granite, quartz, slate, and Corian®, a synthetic countertop material invented by DuPont. For cabinets, choose darker-hued surface materials less likely to show stains caused by the repeated smudging of tiny hands. And for floors, soft flooring materials, such as linoleum, bamboo, or cork, will be more likely to generate bounces, not breaks, when fragile objects inevitably find their way to the floor.
To learn more about creating a kitchen fit to serve as a wonderful place for your whole family, give NDAKitchens a call – we love talking with folks about their kitchen plans, and our consultations are always free.