Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Baking With a 2 year old....

Zane enjoys being in the kitchen with me and I love having him there.  I want him to enjoy cooking and baking and the only way for that to happen is to let him help.  I have learned some things and made some mistakes when it comes to baking with a toddler, I have had LOTS of experience.  I want it to be fun for him and for me.

My first bit of advice would be, do this on a day when you have time to have a mess, because it will be messy.

 You can have every intention of just letting them pour in a few ingredients, that should be simple, right?  But then they miss the bowl completely and you are both wet or sticky and the floor  is a mess...see where I'm going.

 You can not anticipate what will happen when you have a little one in the kitchen. You need to be okay with it being messy!

My second piece of advice would be to do as much prep work as you can before you invite the toddler to the kitchen. I like to have the ingredients measured out and ready to pour in the mixer.

 Most 2 year olds do not have the patience to wait while you gather ingredients and find measuring cups and all the tedious tasks that lead up to the pouring and mixing.

This might make a few extra dishes for clean up at the end but I promise it will make things go a lot more smoothly and it will keep your little one engaged in the activity.

Something that works well for me if we are making cookies or cupcakes that need to be decorated is to break the activity up into two parts.

Like this morning we were making cupcakes so we made the cakes after breakfast and then went about our morning while they baked and cooled.

 Later this afternoon after the Tiny American got up from his nap we decorated them.

I would suggest something like this or if you aren't sure your toddler has the attention for both you could always bake the cookies or cakes ahead of time without them and just let them help you decorate.

The last thing I want to mention, when baking with a toddler do not have expectations of how something will turn out.  You can have Martha Stewart in mind and have imagined this lovely end product that will wow your pinterest followers....this is probably not going to be the case.

 It's important to let them use their imagination when doing something like this, it's supposed to be fun.  I believe it is important for them to learn to follow directions and that is what the baking part is for.  You do have to be specific when it comes to what goes into the cake or cookies, but not so specific when it comes to decorating.  Provide a variety of decorations and let them decide how they want their creation to look.  It will be messy.  Today I had red sugar all over my white counter and floor, but he was happy.

 He was proud of the cupcakes he made and is eager to share them with his friends.

I believe that letting him know that I respect his ideas and creativity is important.  I want him to know that what he thinks matters, even at 2.  I want him to remember that we baked together and it was fun, not a stressful activity that I made him do.

I want him to remember licking the bowl while he stood on the stool at our counter....and I want him to remember that the cake that he made was delicious, because HE  made it.


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