Have you ever tried baking with your kids? Did you imagine sparkling eyes full of wonder as you helped them mix the batter? Did you close your eyes and smile as you dreamed of letting your toddler lick the spatula for the first time and laughing when they got frosting on their nose?
Was your first attempt at baking with your kids nothing like this?
Let’s be honest. Baking is messy enough already. Do we really need to throw in clumsy toddlers and impulsive preschoolers?
Well. Yes. Yes we do.
Why Bake With Kids?
Baking together can be a great bonding experience, when done right.
Baking is a great way to introduce science concepts.
Counting, color naming, and measuring are essential toddler and preschooler skills that are involved in baking.
When kids are involved in the baking and cooking process, they have a deeper appreciation for the work that goes into it and are more likely to try new things.
I loved baking as a kid, and still enjoy it as an adult. I imagined passing on the love to Roo and believed it to be something we could share and enjoy together. I was right. But, as I mentioned before, my first attempt was nothing like I dreamed. It was a lot of mess and a lot of “Never mind. Just let me do it.”
But I kept at it and found some ways to make to process, not just smoother, but more enjoyable for us both. So pull up the kid’s kitchen stool and get cooking. Here are my tips for baking with your kids. (Especially young toddlers and preschoolers.)
Tips for Baking With Kids
1. Prep Everything Beforehand
You know how when you watch cooking shows, and the chef always has things pre-measured into tiny little bowls? That’s mainly for aesthetics because nothing is uglier than a big sag of overflowing flour sitting on the screen. But it’s also for ease and time while filming. SO take a note from your favorite on screen chef and pre-measure your ingredients and set them in tiny bowls or cups before inviting the kids into the kitchen. (And try not to think of the extra dishes you’ll have to wash later.)
2. Let Them Do It Themselves As Much As Possible
Kids, even toddlers and preschoolers, are very perceptive. If you invite them to the kitchen to bake, then take on all the important tasks yourself, don’t expect the kids to be interested in just watching you bake. They know they are not really making cupcake/cookies/whatever. The kids will get bored. Bored = whining. Whining = frustrated parent. Frustrated parent = no one is having a fun time. So set aside your anxiety and set up your kids for success.
Let them crack an egg or two, but do it in an empty bowl near the sink so you can easily fish out shells and clean up spills.
Guide toddlers’ hands as they pour in the wet ingredients.
Let them sprinkle, place one at a time, or dump the chocolate chips. It’s ok, you pre-measured beforehand.
Use small, kid sized baking tools for their small hands.
3. Take Turns
Remind them that you’re doing this together so it’s important to take turns so everyone has fun. This is especially important if you’re baking with more than one kid. But it also let you have a “turn” to stir and incorporate the batter. You have a “turn” to completely whisk the egg. You have a “turn” to save an egg from being over beaten. But the kids still feel independent and proud of themselves for having a turn in the important parts.
4. Set Boundaries Beforehand
Lay down some ground rules before the kids even come into the kitchen. Using an electric mixer? Let the kids know that’s mommy’s job or that only big brother is allowed to touch the whisks. Definitely remind them that ovens are hot and only for grown-up hands. If there is anything else involved in the recipe you don’t feel comfortable letting the kids do, let them know beforehand and avoid the argument later.
5. Start with Simple Recipes First
You don’t have to make a Baked Alaska or French Macaroons the first time you bake with your kids. The fewer ingredients and the fewer steps involved the better chances you have at success.
6. Don’t Bake Too Much
Finally, don’t bake too much. If you’re like me, sweets are a special treat for your kids. So if you will only allow them to eat one cupcake each, why make two dozen? Unless you’re baking for a bake sale or intend to have friends over to share the treats with, bake only what you and your kids will eat. This avoids sugar highs and crashes once the sweets are finished or arguments over whether or not seconds/thirds are allowed. I like to use a converter like this one to save my brain the work.
Want to see these tips in action?
Check out the video above to see me and Roo baking rainbow cupcakes. Then swing over to my Facebook page to see our live video of us decorating them!
While you wait for the cupcakes too bake and cool, let your toddler play in this cupcake themed sensory bin!