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Cooking with kids

WRITER: VANESSA ALGOTSSON

Food. It’s everywhere these days. Not just in the fridge or on the dinner table. It’s on TV, in never-ending rows of magazines and online. And how could this be anything but awesome? Kids today have access to knowledge and a world of ingredients, like no generation that has come before. IKEA wants to help them harness this power at a young age. But they get it. It’s not always easy for parents to let go. Watching your child handle a giant chef’s knife? Eh, no thanks.

 

A person holding four red/white, plastic measuring cups in different sizes. Pouring sugar from the largest one.

IKEA started by listening to a slew of experts. “If you learn to cook at an early age, you will continue with it,” says IKEA product developer Lennie Malmgren, a trained chef who has worked in the IKEA Cooking Department for six years. “It’s like riding a bike or learning a language; if you learn it at an older age it takes so much longer and you might lose interest.”

“If you want your kids to start cooking at an early age, you have nothing for them to use,” says Lennie “Everything is oversized. So you give them a dinner knife, which is not sharp at all. Then the kids get tired, bored and they don’t want to cook anymore.”
 

"So how do you let your kids take charge in the kitchen and still maintain your sanity?"

So the design team decided to create SMÅBIT. It gets the job done just as well as an adult knife, but with some essential kid-friendly features like a non-slip grip, a protective plastic sleeve and a blunt tip. The collection even includes one of the trickiest kitchen tools, the vegetable peeler. This one was designed with a super safe T-shape.

A person holding two ice lolly makers with pineapple and strawberry ice.
A person holding a light blue, heart-shaped baking mould.
A person holding a whisk with a little cream on, that is cranked by hand.

With basic safety taken care of, the next step was to understand how ­children think. And to figure out exactly what they need from adults. What they expressed was refreshing, and in typical kid fashion, blunt. From the mouths of little ones, here’s what they said:
 

1. Don’t correct us all the time.
That just makes us want to run out and never come back.

2. Don’t get mad if we fail.
A smart guy once said “we learn from our mistakes.”
We believe that guy.

3. Don’t rush us!
Learning takes time; try to relax for a minute.

4. It’s ok to get tired or lose interest.

5. And what’s wrong with being messy?!
It’s actually more fun that way. You’ll see.

And some more highlights…