I am not known for participating in particularly dangerous tasks. That being said, I do regularly bake with a four-year-old, which is basically the same thing.
How to Survive Baking With Kids:
- Don’t Panic. The most important rule is not to panic. Keep it calm, cool, and collected. Take deep breaths. Every time they throw melted butter on the floor (which is impossible to clean), count to ten. You’ve got this.
- Wash Hands… Constantly. That thing I said about rule number one being the most important? Scratch that. The most important rule is to have the kid wash their hands at least every five seconds. For real. Between each step, it is hand washing time. You do not want to know what those hands have been doing every time you look away.
- Be Okay With the Mess. This one is hard, but if you’re going to bake with a kid, you must mentally prep yourself for the intense mess to come. I often play “bubbles” after baking, where I make dishwater and have Sky “wash” the dishes with bubbles while I actually wash dishes. Parenting pro tip!
- Buy and Use a Step Ladder/Stool. It is much easier to bring the child to the baking than it is to bring the baking to the child.
- Pre-Measure Ingredients. When first starting out, pre-measure all ingredients and allow the kid to dump them into the mixing bowls. This will help avoid fits thrown over not being able to “do it” when you’re trying to measure out ingredients. Now, I do let Skylar measure out some ingredients with supervision, but that is an at-your-own-risk kind of thing.
- Practice in Separate Bowls. If you are teaching kids to measure ingredients or crack eggs, have them do it in a separate bowl first! Seriously, trust me on this, you do not want to start over 8 times because they have continued to go rogue with the baking powder. Super helpful for eggs, as well, because it makes it much easier to pick out stray shells.
- Let Your Kids Mix. Mixing is great for kids! They get a kick out of it! If you’re using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, let the kid mix with a whisk or spoon first. Hold the bowl for them and remind them to go slow and steady–this will hopefully help you keep most of the contents in the bowl.
- And Teach Them to Use a Mixer. Once you’ve been baking with your child for a while, feel free to test out some guided hand mixing. Turn the hand mixer on a low speed and all them to hold the top while you support it from the bottom. Emphasize slow, repetitive movements… Remember: you’ve got this.
- Invest in Kid-Sized Tools. Okay, but mini utensils are so awesome. My step-kid lost their mind over the mini rolling pin my spouse bought them. This gives them so much independence in baking… and also saves your much more expensive tools from being thoroughly destroyed. Thank me later.
- Hold Off on Pouring Batter. Pouring batter is one thing I would suggest waiting to practice until your kid is 5 or 6. It can get really messy, and one wrong move has the batter all over the floor and a very, very upset child.
- Have the child exit the kitchen whenever the oven is open. I would not recommend letting them stand and watch behind you… Because kids love to test their limits. They will inch closer, try and help, etc. I find it works better if you establish early on that open ovens are dangerous.
- Let Your Kids Decorate. Frosting! Decorating! The most fun a kid could have, as long as you don’t care what the final product looks like. Give the kid a bag full of frosting, or a bowl full and a butter knife, and watch them go to town. Sprinkles help too.
- …Or At Least Decorate a Little. If you do care what the final product looks like, I find three is a good number to keep a child occupied. Hand them three cupcakes/cookies/etc. to decorate and do the rest yourself. Or have them rub frosting on the top of the cake (hello, crumb coat). They will still get the strange joy children can only achieve by playing with frosting, but your final product will be beautiful.
Why You Should Subject Yourself to Such Torture:
Baking with children is stressful nine out of ten times… but also a lot of fun if you manage to calm the fuck down. Now, there are three main benefits of baking with your kids.
- Desserts, Man. You get fucking baked goods out of the deal. I feel like that should be all you need to know, honestly.
- Quality Time. Quality time with the kiddos, making memories they may actually remember when they’re 28 and frantically trying to make perfectly frosted gluten-free carrot cake cupcakes for their picky father-in-law. I still remember baking with my mom, actually.
- Learning Experience. It actually teaches kids a lot? If that’s something that matters to you, I guess? Since we’ve started baking, Sky has learned a lot about measurements, spatial awareness, patience, fine motor skills… They often have to practice slow, repetitive movements. Sky’s learned a lot of practical baking tips through natural curiosity–for example, Skylar asks why salt is in everything (even the sweet stuff), why I would put pineapples in a carrot cake (moisture, y’all), why we refrigerate cookie dough, and a lot more interesting questions that also have a lot to do with science.
In conclusion: bake with your children at your own risk.
(Feel free to contact me for any kid-friendly baking ideas, tips & tricks, and ways to turn learning into baking fun!)
One thought on “Baking With Kids and Other Extreme Sports”
This is a great post! I remember baking with my mom too. After being diagnosed with a chronic illness that often totally disables me I lost my energy for cooking. I do still try to bake with my sons because they love it so much. At 8 years old they still break eggs in a separate container and we hand stir just about everything because by the time they both get tired and ask me to stir it’s usually pretty well mixed together. Their new thing is the Netflix show “Nailed It” . They enjoy watching how crazy the contestants’ finished products end up, and I enjoy that they don’t get upset when things don’t turn out perfect. It is a super cute show with some fun baking tasks. I love your tips for baking with kids, they are very practical. Your step daughter will have wonderful memories of baking with you.