Baking with Toddlers
In the spirit of full disclosure these were actually made for my husband’s office, it’s his birthday today ( yay he’s older than me again) and he needed to take in treats. So I hit two birds with one stone and decided to make them mother’s day themed and make them with my little man. Kids love to help cook and bake and my main tips for a peaceful experience are, expect a mess, don’t worry about perfection and eat a healthy lunch before making them so when the sugar hits their belly it’s not as dramatic! We had fun writing out the letters and making shapes with the candy.
- Gather your materials. You will need your favorite cupcake mix and icing or recipes. Also to make the flowers and letter designs some rope licorice, and pink round candies.
- Mix your cake – I have no pictures of this because I had everything laid out in bowls, the oil, water and eggs and my son was so helpful he through them all in. I usually pre crack the eggs into a bowl and let him dump them in when I am making something that egg shells are hard to fish out of.
- Bake and cool your cupcakes.
- While they cool tear the rope licorice apart into single strands.
- Cut into smaller pieces you can make into petals
- When cupcakes are cool ice .
- Make letters to spell out MOM on one cupcake each or.. put it on a single cupcake.
- Make petals ( it’s easier to make them before adding it to the icing ) by pressing the ends tightly together.
- Add to the cupcake
- Add a candy middle.
Have fun however you make them . Oh and a tip that worked great for us this time. If you have a mini cupcake pan, put a few spoonfuls in that and let your child have a little cupcake before decorating the larger ones. This totally satisfied my son and made me feel better about how much sugar he consumed. I also had a mini one ( ok 2)and was able to leave the big ones alone !
Mama Books That Make Me Cry
Here are my top 3 books that require kleenex:
A Mama for Owen by Marion Dane Bauer makes me cry every time I read it, and not just because I am pregnant. It’s a true story about a baby Hippo who lost his mama in the Tsunami that so many other babies both creature and human did . The story is one about friendship , about adoption and about love. See Owen the little Hippo finds Mzee a big old giant tortoise and even though they are different species, and Mzee is a boy, Owen treats him like his mama.
Hair for Mama by Kelly A. Tinkham is beautiful. The story is about a little boy who is desperate to find some hair for his mama who has lost hers to chemotherapy. Marcus wants mama to be in the family photo but she doesn’t want to be the way she looks. His mission comes to a climax when he shaves off all his own hair hoping to give it to his mama. When the barber sweeps it up with the other hair on the floor Marcus is heart broken and goes home in tears. I was sobbing reading this, I knew it was a story about a mom having cancer but the way the author wrote it , it was magical. The complex emotions this little boy felt for his mom and she for him, jumped off the page and you can’t help but cry. I wasn’t sad ,I was touched by the love and desire to fix his mom and make everything better, and his parents tenderness to his feelings. I can’t recommend this book more highly. I should note that this is not a book for toddlers, I would probably wait until a child is 4-5 before reading them this gem.
Baking with Toddlers
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.