Inside: Essential tips for baking with toddlers. Minimize the mess, cut the stress, and have more fun together!
I held my breath as I took in the scene. Flour covered every surface, like a thin dusting of snow. Sticky cups and spoons lay strewn across the floor. The kids were eagerly licking gooey cookie dough off the table, their fingers – even their toes.
Baking with my daycare kids had seemed like a great idea the night before. Plus, savoring freshly baked cookies together is the perfect rainy day activity.
When kids bake they:
- Learn life skills
- Practice fine motor control
- Explore mathematical concepts
- Engage their senses
- Observe science in action
- Are more willing to try new foods
But, things don’t always turn out the way we expect – especially when toddlers are involved.
One of the kids laid down on the floor and swished his arms and legs up and down.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Snow angel!” He giggled.
More like a flour angel.
How could I make baking with toddlers more manageable?
Baking with Toddlers: Less Mess, More Fun
After a lot of experimenting (and a lot of messes), I’ve learned these essential tips that make baking with toddlers fun and feasible.
Choose the Right Recipe
This isn’t the right time to try out a complicated soufflé. When you’re baking with toddlers, look for a recipe that has:
- Few ingredients
- Simple instructions
- No eggs – at least until your toddler is able to keep her fingers out of her mout
Start with this simple cookie recipe.
Preparation is Everything
A lot can happen while you dig through the cupboard to find the cinnamon – especially when your toddler has access to a bowl of goopy muffin batter.
Before you start:
- Read through the recipe
- Collect ingredients and stash them out of your toddler’s reach
- Find measuring cups, stirring spoons, rubber spatula – multiples if you have them!
- Choose a large bowl to help prevent spills from exuberant stirring
- Grab a towel, sponge, and baby wipes
- Pull a chair up to the kitchen table or counter for your toddler
- Wash everyone’s hands
We use the kitchen table for our workspace. I pull up a high chair so my little one can reach. The ingredients are in my reach – but not my toddler’s – on the opposite side of the table.
Take it Step by Step
Offer one ingredient at a time to keep your toddler focused – and reduce the chances of a catastrophic mess.
- Read the first step of the recipe out loud.
- Bring the first ingredient to the cooking area.
- Smell and taste the ingredient, if it’s safe to do so. “Mmmm, the peanut butter tastes salty.”
- Talk about the role of the ingredient. “The baking soda will make the muffins rise.”
- Offer as much help as your toddler needs to measure the ingredient.
- Return the first ingredient to its place out of reach.
- Read the next step.
Making (Tasty) Memories
Years after my first harrowing experience baking with toddlers, I love baking with my own kids. Using the tips I’ve shared with you, we keep the mess to a minimum while we make warm memories together.
And so far, no more flour angels.