The kitchen is the hub of the family home and from the moment that they can muster a small bum shuffle, the kitchen becomes the playground of babies and small children. Kids love nothing more than opening draws and cupboards, pressing buttons on the dishwasher and ‘helpfully rearranging’ the pantry for Mum.
According to The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, the home is the most common place for children to get injured, with collisions due to poorly designed kitchens topping the list of main injuries. So how do you create a kitchen that is kid friendly and kid safe? Here are a few tips to consider if you’re planning a new family kitchen.
1. Open Plan
Plan your kitchen so that it flows seamlessly into the family room. This means that the kids can still interact with you from the family room while you’re cooking, without being underfoot and in the way while you’re trying to manoeuvre around the kitchen.
2. Kids’ Height Bench-tops
Kids love baking and helping Mum and Dad cook. If you have the space for it, a 30-inch baker’s height bench-top at the end of the main bench-top is an ideal cooking space for kids. If space is a problem, a pull-out counter or pull out step would also be a good addition.
3. Clean Surfaces
Kitchens can be a breeding place for all kinds of bacteria and mould, so it is a good idea to invest in bench-tops that are easy to clean and hygienic.
The most hygienic bench-top surface that you can get is an acrylic solid surface. Solid surface bench-tops are composed of acrylic resin and natural minerals and they are non-porous, so nothing can penetrate the surface which means that it does not create a habitat where bacteria, mould and fungus can grow. Solid surface can also be joined together seamlessly, creating a bench-top that has no unsightly lines or joints – which is beautiful from a design perspective.
4. Rounded Corners
Kids run and whizz around the house at break neck speed, added to the fact that their peripheral vision is still developing, and you often get heads bumping into benchtops or corners of cabinets. To avoid any serious injuries, opt for rounded corners on your benchtops or for a more stylish finish, you could also go with a waterfall edge where the benchtop surface cascades down one or both sides of the benchtop to the floor.
5. Accessible Healthy Snacks
Whether it’s healthy snacks in the fridge or in the pantry, ensure that there is a shelf where kids can easily grab a quick snack when they’re hungry. Not only will this stop those, “Mum, I’m hungry!” complaints but it will also encourage them to be more self-sufficient. It’s a good idea to also have a space in one of the floor cabinets where the kids can fetch their own cups, plates and bowls.
6. Dangerous Items
It goes without saying that knives and other sharp utensils should be kept in the top drawer away from tiny fingers, but what we do tend to forget is that kids grow up quicker than we realise and before we know it, they’re able to reach those top drawers. If you’re in the design phase of your kitchen renovation, one clever idea is to add a small thin draw under your wall cabinets that is dedicated to sharp knives and other dangerous kitchen utensils.
7. Family Organisation Centre
While this is not related to child safety, it does help Mum and Dad retain some sanity and, well let’s face it, that is paramount to child safety. A family organisation centre is a must for any busy family home because it’s the one place where the things that your family needs as part of their daily routine can be kept such as school bags, school notices, bills, lists of things to do, shopping lists etc.
TIP: The organisation centre is also a good place to include a charging station for mobile phones, tablets, portable DVD players and music players.
8. Let Them Draw
Kids love drawing on the walls! Why not give them a wall painted with chalkboard paint and let them decorate it while you cook. Not only will it keep them out of the kitchen, but you can also do some homework with them at the same time.