Baking is one of my absolute favourite things to do, so I’ve always wanted to share that hobby with my little girl. Baking with a toddler isn’t always plain sailing, but here are my five top tips for trying to survive it without having a breakdown!
1. Keep it Simple
When I wanted to test the water, in terms of baking with E, I used the ‘just add’ baking kits. You know the ones that you get in the supermarket and usually involve some kind of hideous blue/pink icing and sugar paper with Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig print on them. They were a good way to see how we got on, to see what E understood and how she would actually react when we started baking! It helped her understand that she needs to be careful around the stand mixer, that she needs to stay still on her chair (which we’ve now swapped for this Learning Tower from Little Helper Ltd. Plus, if you’re a novice baker and just want something easy, these are definitely for you!
2. Embrace the Mess
My husband will attest to the fact that I am a messy baker anyway; I don’t clean up as I go along, then I regret it when I’ve got a mountain of mess to deal with at the end.
However, baking with a toddler is a whole different level; there’s flour and icing sugar everywhere, you seem to use a million (ok, maybe slightly hyperbolic) more utensils than usual and you have to wipe an inexplicable amount of cake batter from your toddler’s face (note, face, not mouth, because they like to smear it everywhere). Just try and embrace it all. Everything cleans eventually, and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than going to a messy play session!
3. Be Prepared!
It sounds oh so simple, and it should probably be top of the list, but it’s something I forget to do nearly every time we bake. I’ll always forget an ingredient or a utensil, and dash across the kitchen before E causes some chaos. So, read the recipe, read it again, and get out ALL your equipment and ingredients before you even consider bringing the child into the kitchen!
4. Make it Fun!
It can be stressful, I get it, but there are so many benefits to baking with a toddler:
- it develops their maths skills (count eggs or spoonfuls);
- it encourages them to try new things;
- it develops their motor skills and hand-eye coordination; and,
- it’s building foundations for life skills.
So, try and stop stressing. Put on some songs, let them spoon the mixture into tins or cases, let them LICK THE SPOON! If you want them to develop a love for baking, they need to have positive associations with it. I know it’s hard, I’ve definitely shouted more than once, but the good always outweighs the bad for toddlers!
5. Enjoy it!
Just enjoy the bonding time with your little one. So, you’ve not made a cake worthy of a window in a French Patisserie, but you’ve made some precious memories and that’s what’s most important. Plus, who knows, one day you could be part of their background story when they reach the final of The Great British Bake Off and you could meet Paul Hollywood – I know we’d all rather meet Queen Mary (Berry), but that ship has sailed…