Make Cookies Simple!

Tips for
Baking with Toddlers
( and a toy garbage truck)

Baking is a great tool for teaching toddlers about the senses. Kids can touch, smell, taste, see and even hear things while baking and cooking. However lately baking hasn’t been as much fun at our house . A certain 2 year old demands to use the mixer, and not in a safe way. When I say no, the theatrics start and the fun we were having comes to an end. So instead of giving up making cookies all together I came to a compromise, so we can keep learning and having fun.

  • Be realistic about your expectations, taste testing is pretty much guaranteed no matter how many times you ask them not to.
  • I use pre- mixed dough. I like store bought because I am irrationally terrified of salmonella, and I know my son will taste test , as will I. If your toddler and you can happily do the steps of making your own dough, by all means do. There are great lessons about measurement that come from that step.
  • Skip steps your child has had issues with in the past- don’t give them up forever just for now. For us this means no mixer, I’ll try again soon but not yet. It may be touching a hot stove that is a trouble spot for you, in that case focus on the mixing and bake after your child is in bed for nap or the night. Small adjustments can be made to keep having fun.
  • Put the premixed dough into a bowl and have your child mix it up, feel it and knead it.
  • Add fun things into the pre-made dough. This adds a step of mixing that can be done by hand, without a huge mess. I have added candies to sugar cookies, chocolate chips to peanut butter, dried fruit to oatmeal and in these pictures my son is adding toffee bits and chopped pecans to chocolate chip dough.
  • Allow your child to roll the dough into balls with their hands, use the rolling pin or cookie cutters!
  • Do not bake with your toddler when you NEED to have 3 dozen cookies for a bake sale or church party. The stress of making enough cookies may be too much if a bowl gets knocked over, or too much dough gets eaten.
  • After you bake enjoy your cookies and ask your child to tell you how they did that, you’ll be impressed with how well young kids can recount the steps you followed.

Comments

  1. sandy says

    Our most memorable moments are in the kitchen! The girls attend a cooking class at our church! It is amazing how well they do. I love it!

  2. thejoysofjess says

    Wonderful! I love baking with my preschoolers. Any food activity is an activity they get SO into! I love it.

    And I’m secretly hoping they’ll develop a love for cooking and not end up like me. 24 and more likely to have take out!

  3. Joan Young (aka Mancini) says

    Great post.. what a cutie :-) I love the last line where you suggest that the child recall and re-tell the steps! As a kindergarten teacher, I am always appreciative of parents whose kids have practiced re-telling as it helps so much with future reading and writing skills. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Andrea says

    Great post! We love baking together. Rice Crispie treats are good for this age too and no need to turn on the hot oven this time of year. I also let me kids make veggies for roasting – brush veggies with oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper & garlic. Our faves are broccoli & asparagus. There is a great lime chicken recipe at familyfun.com that I let my kids measure out and stir for me too.

  5. het lieveheersbeestje says

    Oh, your son is a lovely chef in the kitchen! I also do a lot of cooking and baking with the children together. I let them feel how hot the oven is (very cold still of cource!) by putting their hand on it. Just hot enough to let them understand. And we never had accidents with it as they know what I mean when I say that the oven is HOT! I use no mixer but a food processor and we can hold that together. It makes a lot of noise, but it works great.
    Keep on backing, I love the pictures!!

  6. The Momma says

    I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter and we were making chocolate chip cookies the other day. After we had put all of the dry ingredients in the bowl I let her stir away while I was mixing all of the wet ingredients together. I looked over at her and she’s got a spoonful of flour, salt, and baking soda in her mouth. I freaked! She only said, “Mmmm, Yum!”

  7. Annette says

    My 2 1/2 yo loves to bake with me. I quickly learned that baking from a mix helps…as does having everything out, or even partially measured ahead of time.

  8. SkylarKD says

    And supervise, supervise, supervise! My daughter recently poured an ENTIRE bottle of vanilla into muffins when I turned to answer the phone. LOL

  9. Trisha says

    Thanks for changing the comment setting! I have a lot of comments saved up. We cherish “Mama, do you love me?” also, and the moon craft reminded me of the gigantic moon on one of the pages.

    Mollie Katzen has a couple of great books about cooking with toddlers. We especially enjoy 2 baking recipes from “Salad People”, the rosemary focaccia and the chewy energy circles. My son will eat the circles but not the focaccia, though.

  10. johanna says

    now why do i come across this half an hour after baking fairy cakes with a frazzled 3 year old!!!

  11. [email protected] says

    I love his looks of concentration! Thanks so much for the tips, I’ll be linking.

  12. Marie says

    What I’ve learned about cooking with my little guy is to measure everything out ahead of time in little bowls – eggs are cracked in a bowl, flour in a bowl. Yeah, it’s extra work and dishes – but I’ve tackled tougher recipes this way with my helper and we are still here to tell the tale! :) Plus, if I’m distracted, I don’t forget anything — if there’s an extra bowl of something at the end – mix it in!

  13. Anonymous says

    May I suggest eggless cookie recipes? I have to use them anyway for an allergic husband and no salmonella worries!

  14. Steven Toh and Hwee Kiah says

    I had a hilarious time reading this post. It’s so true and I absolutely agree with you. Thanks for making me feel confident to bake with my toddler boy again. =) I love reading your blog, thanks!

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