Here’s the deal.
I truly believe that you first need to have proper knife skills before you can teach your kids!
They pick up what they see you do, and if you model unsafe or inefficient knife skills, they will follow. However, I understand though you may want to get your kids involved in the kitchen and you may still be working on your knife habits.
Only you know your kids and how they’ll do with knives. I put approximate age ranges.
Some will listen to instruction, and others will be very confident and try to move right along and give you high blood pressure (That was my oldest!) Use your best judgement, but the more they practice – the more comfortable they will be with knife. (They are also more likely to try new foods!)
These are NOT recommended
These items don’t even resemble a knife. If you want to start when your child is young, you want to get them acclimated to the shape of the knife. These can also be dangerous because they cannot fully cut through some foods.
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These are lightweight and a great starter set. The smallest of the bunch still allows for proper grip of the knife, even as young as 2-3 years old. However – because of the serrated edge, your child must only “zig zag” or “saw” through soft foods such as bananas, avocados, apples, and mushrooms
This would be the next transition around approximately 5-7 years old. It’s a real blade, yet small enough so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. You can teach proper knife grip, proper guiding hand placement and can even start introducing the proper knife motions on soft foods, cut to the appropriate length due to the size of the knife.
Chef Knife / Santoku Knife
Around 7-9 yrs old or so, your child may be ready to really start practicing with a larger knife. At this point you want to dive more in detail about knife skills and allow them to be more helpful with more fruits, veggies, cheeses, breads, etc. As long as you practice proper knife skills, they will be on the right track!
These mini knives are just the right size, but instead of the serrated edge, they are straight edged blades which steer away from needed to “saw” through food and actually “cut” through the food properly.
The one on the left is more of a santoku style, which has the blunt tip and may feel safer, and the pack on the right does have a knife guard for added safety. I don’t usually recommend those for adults, but kids can benefit from a knife guard as a gradual step up to learning how to position their fingers.
I hope this was helpful for your little ones! If you don’t have kids, pass it along to someone who might benefit.