Do you love to bake and have a little one who loves to “help”? Are you looking for a fun activity to bond with your child?
Baking with toddlers can be fun (as long as you aren’t hangry for sweets NOW and aren’t in the right mindset to be patient – I have definitely been there….). I have found baking to be super rewarding for the little ones. They have so much fun doing special activities with mom or dad and love that you trust them to participate. Plus, there’s a *hopefully* delicious treat at the end!
1. Start with an easy recipe.
If you have never baked with your kids before, manage your expectations.
I don’t recommend starting with a complicated recipe with many steps or ingredients.
It’s a good idea to save anything you feel is important to get just right (like a birthday cake?) for another time.
Know your child and their abilities, too. A two-year-old can probably dump pre-measured ingredients into a bowl and help with stirring, while a 3-year-old might be ready to help with counting measurements, turning on the mixer, etc.
Here are some of my favorite recipes to make with my 3-year-old:
Banana muffins – We love this recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread muffins from Mommy Mouse Clubhouse. G especially loves to be in charge of picking the muffin liners to use and putting them in the pan. She also loves sprinkling the cinnamon sugar on top before baking.
Pancakes. this recipe from Grace and Good Eats is super easy and delicious. We were silly this weekend and made our pancakes into a little face
Chocolate chip cookies. You can’t go wrong with the Nestle Toll House recipe on the back of the chocolate chips package. I have made these so many times I have the recipe memorized. I recommend using a little cookie scoop (like this one) since it makes all the cookies the same size so they cook evenly. G likes to squeeze the lever to put the cookie on the baking sheet. It’s also less messy this way (I’ll take that wherever I can…we are talking about baking with little kids here).
Sugar cookies. If you really want to make it simple, grab some pre-made dough from the grocery store. Rolling it out, using cookie cutters and decorating, are the most fun parts anyway.
2. Embrace the mess.
Little kids are not well-known for their dexterity….You will probably end up with flour all over your floor and broken egg shells in your bowl. Embrace this as part of the fun. I believe trusting our littles to pour, mix, and crack eggs helps build their confidence.
Last night we made these Snickerdoodle cookies (which were amazing, by the way) and sure enough, we ended up with an eggshell in the bowl. BUT!!!!! There were no tiny pieces for me to pick up – she gets better every time and is so excited when I let her help.
3. Get everything out ahead of time.
Unless you don’t mind if your little helper puts a little extra of this or that in while you have your back turned locating the next ingredient or tool.
4. Keep them safe.
Communicate important rules ahead of time, like that they should keep away from the oven, shouldn’t touch knives, and need to keep their fingers away from the mixer when it’s on.
Most toddlers I know can’t reach the kitchen counter, but want to be right in the action, so to facilitate this you could invest in a “Kitchen Helper” or make a DIY version to help boost them up while keeping them from falling. I prefer to plop my daughter right on the counter, but she is coordinated enough not to slip off and I stay right next to her at all times.
5. Give them jobs you feel comfortable with.
If you don’t feel comfortable with your toddler doing a particular step or using a specific tool, you can still find some important jobs they can do so they can be more of a participant vs. a spectator.
My daughter loves picking out muffin liners and putting them in the pan. She also loves to unwrap sticks of butter.
While she’s busy with these tasks I can quickly do whatever task I don’t think she’s ready for. Or you can find ways to split tasks like measuring dry ingredients yourself and having your little pour them in the bowl.
All in all, baking with toddlers can be super fun for everyone if you have a little patience and don’t mind the mess! -ML