Tips To Make Baking With Kids Less Stressful
I started baking with my kids when my oldest son was two and a half. He had a speech delay and would struggle to communicate so there were many tantrums. One day, as a tactic to distract him from his impending tantrum, I pulled out a scone baking mix for him to help me make. It was a simple mix that only required water so I figured we could do it with not much mess.
As it turns out, baking calmed him down. He forgot what he was upset about and enjoyed mixing the batter and scooping it to the baking pan. While baking with my kids is far messier than baking alone, and, quite frankly, I don’t really enjoy baking, I now do it regularly with both boys. Both of my kids enjoy the quality time in the kitchen with mom and it helps them both relax when they are overtired and getting wild.
My oldest son has progressed from the simple scone mix and now enjoys baking cupcakes from scratch and decorating them and my youngest loves baking muffins. Baking with the kids helps them focus on counting and measurements (and reading for my oldest son). Since we can’t possibly eat all of the baked goods we make, we share them with daycare teachers and our elderly neighbors, which teaches my boys kindness.
Tips for Baking with Kids
If you want to bake with your kids but are scared of the mess or are worried that they will be impatient and ruin the recipe, here are my tips for making baking with kids fun.
- Chances are, your kitchen will be a disaster and your baked good may not taste fantastic. That’s OK. You’re not baking in a competition. The finished product is less important than the act of baking together.
- Choose the Right Recipe for Your Kids. As my oldest has gotten older, we’ve progressed to more complicated recipes. If you have preschoolers, stick with box mix baking. It’ll be much easier on everyone. Little kids have a short attention span, so if you’re using a recipe that has a lot of ingredients that require precise measurements, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you insist on making things from scratch, stick with simple recipes or prepare the dry ingredients in advance so your kid won’t have to deal with many steps.
- Prepare ahead. If I am baking with my three year old, I get everything out and ready before I tell him its time to bake. He is impatient and can’t wait for all of the ingredients to be pulled out so it is just easier. When he was younger, I used to pre-measure the smaller dry ingredients (baking soda, baking powder, sugar, seasoning) into little bowls so he could just dump them into the bowl. Now I help him spoon ingredients into the measuring cups and dump them in the bowl. We count as we scoop, which is great for his math development.
- Make it fun. I know, it can be stressful watching your kids mix the batter so fast that flour is flying everywhere. Not only are the making a mess, but baking is a science so messing with the measurements will affect the outcome. Even though it is driving you crazy, don’t let it get to you. Show your kids how to stir slowly. Laugh when the eggshells fall in the bowl. If you are snapping at your kids and cleaning up as they go, they won’t enjoy baking with mom and you’ll lose out on a fun bonding experience.
- Don’t stress about the mess. Go into it knowing it is going to be messy. Trust me, there’s no way around it. I used to get irritated when the flour was flying but now I just measure a bit extra knowing some will end up on the counter. Baking messes aren’t that hard to clean up, I promise. After we’re done mixing and putting dough into pans, I pre-heat the oven (we have a small kitchen so we use the glass stove top as our baking space) and start my cleanup. Once the dough is done, the kids have lost their interest so I can do my cleanup without kids underfoot.
- Keep the mess contained. We do our baking on the glass stovetop partly because we have a tiny kitchen with not much counter space, but also because it has a raised edge so mess stays confined. When we decorate cookies, I use a giant wood cutting board on the dining room table. It has a groove around the edge so sprinkles end up there and not all over the floor. Even if they do end up on the floor, I promise, it isn’t that hard to clean up.
If you’ve been thinking about baking with your kids, go ahead and jump in! Even if your baked goods don’t turn out as tasty or pretty as you’d like, the skills you are teaching your kids is worth it. Baking incorporates math and reading skills, as well as life skills like patience and creativity.
It gets easier the more you do it. My oldest is seven and he now finds recipes he wants to try and sets up everything on his own. My role is more supervisory at this point. He even decides who we should share our treats with since we can’t possibly eat all of the treats we bake.
My three year old loves baking muffins, mainly because the electric mixer scares him. The good thing about muffins is, we can bake them healthier by reducing sugar and using fruits and vegetables. They also freeze well and reheat in less than a minute so we can have a quick, healthy breakfast.
Do you bake with your kids? What do you enjoy baking together?