When I became a parent for the first time, I suddenly realized just how many potential dangers the home presented to a helpless little baby, and even more to an inquisitive toddler. As much of my time was spent in the kitchen, it seemed natural to ensure that my kitchen was as child friendly as possible.
Not just safety considerations
Although safety was my prime consideration, I soon discovered another benefit of making my kitchen child friendly. I realized that making a kitchen child friendly would encourage children to get involved in all the stages of preparing a meal, teaching them valuable life-skills that would equip them for adult life and instilling in them the virtues of a healthy diet.
The first thing to consider when planning a child friendly kitchen is its layout. The modern trend for kitchen layouts is that of open-plan and fortunately, this is ideal for making it child friendly. Kitchen islands are a great way to improve traffic flow and provide separate work areas. It can be a good idea to have an island that has a lower section built in so that younger children can reach it, rather than having to climb up on stools. A seated section can also be an advantage, providing a work area for older children who choose to do their homework and taking a practice SAT in the kitchen.
I realized when designing my kitchen that ordinary drawers were a great temptation to young children, so I either had drawers fitted with child locks or ensured that the contents were not hazardous. This meant moving all my utensils, especially knives and other sharp implements, to higher drawers or putting them in pots on the worktop.
I decided that I would even extend my child safety considerations to the appliances in my kitchen. A cooking hob is by its very nature a hazardous place, but I realized there were ways to increase their safety aspect, such as child lockout settings and stove guards. However, I was mostly impressed with the idea of an induction hob, which only gets hot when a special pan is placed on it. I thought this was the safest option to prevent burns on little exploring hands.
As a little detail, I also ensured that all electrical outlets either were at adult waist level or above, or if lower, were fitted with guards.
Mostly for health reasons (I am a great believer in natural light), I ensured my kitchen layout was designed to maximize light. So my worktops were in view of the windows, and my furnishings included easy to clean and streamlined window shutters. These enabled me to have the windows open in the summer without having to worry about children falling out of them as they were securely covered.
I also introduced into my kitchen blackboard paint, which meant that a wall of my kitchen became a blackboard upon which my children could draw and write to their heart’s content.
Having a child friendly kitchen benefits not just children but the whole family, as it encourages them to congregate in an area that has been truthfully called the heart of the home.