Baking with Small Children

Baking with Small Children

I love to bake, ever since my mom deemed me tall enough to stand on a chair and see over the counter. Having kids didn’t slow down my love of making cookies; for awhile it just meant Daddy had to entertain our son.

But, one day, Daddy wasn’t home and I was dying for a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie. I looked at my 1.5 year old son, looked at the kitchen, and fetched a chair. He already loved standing on chairs (stood on one until he figured out how to open a door), so I decided it was time to introduce him to Mommy’s favorite hobby: baking.

When my husband came home, he thought I was nuts for trying to bake with a young toddler.

And maybe I was. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been! Mostly because my son is awesome in every way and actually listens to me (well, about 75% of the time, but he was super good when he was younger!).

He’s been happily baking with me for 2 years now, though touching the eggs is out of the question after he decided to “help” and dropped them on the counter.

As for his less then year old sister? Well, sometimes we wait until she naps. Otherwise, I hold her (she’s very curious and loves to watch, but I always put her in her high chair when I have to open the oven).

  1. Do make sure they are tall enough to see over the counter, or, if you have the space, put them on the counter! Or mix on the floor. Who says you have to do it on the counter? There’s also the dining table, the coffee table, the child’s table…
  2. Mess is inevitable, especially with flour. So, having something under everything makes clean up faster and easier. I’ve used paper towels, wax paper, regular towels… I prefer something disposable as it’s easier to pick it up and put it in the trash. I have a bad habit of forgetting I have something in the washing machine.
  3. Let your toddler pour the dry ingredients into the bowl. My son loved doing this, until he just completely missed one day. We had a talk about where it goes, but, since then, he would rather put his hand on my wrist and “help” me pour. Again, having something under the mixing bowl would be helpful!
  4. Be careful with the wet ingredients, but  don’t rule them out! My son can and does pour in milk, water, and oil. He touched butter once and freaked out, so that’s out for him. Also waiting until he’s a little older before he can handle the eggs again. Otherwise he was really good about counting them when he handed them to me.
  5. Let them mix. It might take forever, but it’s so much fun for them! But they’ll probably only mix the top layer. And may fight you when you say “my turn.” We mostly use a stand mixer and both my kids LOVE watching it. It’s kind of hypnotic.
  6. Have fun. I always let my son pick something to add. Chocolate chips, candy pieces, sprinkles, shredded coconut, etc. And he picks how much.
  7. Be careful with the oven. I made it very clear the oven was super hot. Whenever I opened the oven, I always made my son back up 2-3 feet and not move, otherwise I closed the oven. I’d rather have burnt cookies than burnt son. On that note, my daughter goes right into her high chair, a safe distance away.
  8. Let them watch it bake. If your oven has a window, turn on a light and let them watch. My son and I would always crouch down so he could ooh and aah.
  9. Finally, let them have a little snack when it comes out. My son loved picking his piece, and it’s a good way to get more milk in him!

I love getting my son involved and he has so much fun. Most days, he is the one asking if we can bake. Well, it’s been weekly lately, but I don’t complain.

It’s fun to bake with a toddler, as long as you’re prepared and careful. So, go have some fun in the kitchen!

For more great tips, check out how Neighboring Nikita introduced baking to her 1 year old!

Do you have any other tips to make baking fun and safe?

 

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