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How many of us have memories of baking with a parent, a grandmother, or other family member? You can make those memories with kids too, and ignite their passion for creating in the kitchen! (Don’t miss out on these easy, kid-friendly recipes.) Here are some of the best tips for baking with kids and enjoying every minute of it.
1. It’s going to be messy… and that’s OK!
These are kids after all, so of course messes are going to happen. Baking should be fun, so don’t let a mess stress you out. Take some preventative steps: have a plastic tablecloth over the work area, clean as you go, slow kids down as they move through the kitchen. If flour goes flying or an egg hits the floor take a deep breath, smile and carry on!
2. Let kids choose the recipe
Look through cookbooks, websites, and Taste of Home magazines with your kiddos. Field Editor Elizabeth Bramkamp says kids will be more interested in baking if they help choose the recipe. For little kids simply the process: let them choose between two or three recipes that look fun and that will be appropriate for their age. Bigger kids can choose recipes on their own from books, magazines, or recipe videos.
3. Be patient
If something goes wrong while baking with kids, don’t let it frazzle you—or them. It’s a great chance to teach perseverance: mistakes are how we learn and grow! Field Editor Holly Balzer’s young cooking students learned what happens when you overfill pans with cupcake batter. If a mistake like this happens, show kids what steps you can take to fix the next batch.
4. Find age-appropriate tasks
Smaller children will do well with simplified recipe steps—either that you read out or write down for them so they can cross off as they go. Tasks for young kids include adding ingredients that you have pre-measured, stirring, spooning out portions of dough and simple decorating. Make sure they can reach the work area with help from you to prevent falls. Give them quick tasks and plan for breaks.
Older kids can be given more independence and responsibility in the kitchen. Teach them the basics of using the oven, running the mixer, measuring ingredients accurately, closely following the recipe, and trying more advanced decorating techniques.
5. Smaller kids? Try smaller tools
There are miniature versions of kitchen tools available, but you can find tools for little kids from what you have on hand. They can stir ingredients in a smaller bowl with a large soup spoon. If you don’t have a child-sized apron, improvise with an adult apron folded down or tie a large dishtowel around their waist. Field Editor Shawn Barto suggests kids use popsicle sticks to spread frosting on cupcakes. To roll dough help kids hand-over-hand with a regular rolling pin or give them a plastic drinking cup that they can roll with on their own.
6. Lead by example: follow recipes closely
Teach kids the most important step in baking: read the recipe first! With older kids, Field Editor Marina Castle Kelley suggests reading it together to answer questions about the steps, ingredients and baking times. They can write a shopping list, and get materials organized before starting. With younger kids, have ingredients laid out and pre-measured. Make a simple list for kids to check off as you read out ingredients and steps!
7. Make kids a part of your regular baking routine
Baking with children doesn’t only mean kid-themed treats. Let them help with kneading dough for your weekly bread, mixing up muffins for breakfast, or baking cookies to bring to their classroom for a celebration. They will love to be included, and these are the baking traditions we take with us into adulthood.
8. Share the goodies
When you finally get to eat the finished goodies with your kiddos give them lots of praise, and get them talking about what they loved about baking with you! Have them share their treats too: with a neighbor, a family member or friends. Not only will they gain more confidence and opportunities to hear what amazing bakers they are, they will also experience the joy of sharing their baking with others.