aaaaarrrgggghhh I hear you scream!! As your once angelic toddler is pouring flour all over the floor, the kitchen cupboards are a sticky mess of chocolate and now she is putting the bowl, with all the ingredients over her head. You carefully manoeuvre the now screaming toddler towards the bath and you vow never again…… I’ve been there, including the bowl on the head! It can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be…….
I’m not saying it won’t get messy….
First, think why you are choosing to bake with your toddler? Is it that you need to make cakes for a birthday or you’ve got friends coming around? If so I would suggest this isn’t the time to get your toddler involved, as you’ll want it to be perfect and that is a path to the messy and stressful scenario.
Cooking with your toddler is for you to have important bonding time together and most of all it should be fun. Children get so much out of cooking, even at a young age. They learn hand eye co-ordination to mix and hold the bowl, they will watch you follow the recipe and numbers come in to play when weighing out ingredients. You should weigh them out together so they feel involved. Not only does it help with use of numbers, but helps them learn about ingredients and where they come from. It is all good learning experience for them. They will be so proud of the end result and that they have made it!
You’ve put some time aside for the cooking session. Now you need to decide what to make! I always think it is good to start with something simple like cupcakes or muffins.
I’ve included a recipe for banana muffins below for you!
All ready to go? Here are a few little tips to make it stress free!
- Get all the ingredients, utensils, baking trays etc. out before you start so you are not routing around the cupboards looking for items and then your toddler will get bored!
- Set them up at a suitable table they can reach and sit down with them to do it. Get them excited about what you are going to make and ask them to think what it will taste like when it is ready!
- Breaking the recipe down into simple steps helps too, so make sure it is something simple or that you are familiar making.
- For each step tell them how much you need and get them to help you weigh the ingredients out. I think letting them spoon the flour onto the scales gives them a feeling of independence; that they are doing it and mummy is helping!
- Ask them about the ingredients. For example, ask them if they know what it is and where they think it comes from? What do you think we need to put in next.
- Most toddlers love getting their hands messy so instead of a spoon let them get stuck in rubbing the butter and flour together.
The main thing is to not stress. Remember mess can be cleared up and they can help you! This is another good thing to teach them, yes cooking is fun, but we also need to clear away afterwards!
Let them do it, you will need to help and guide them but try not to take over. It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect!
When you are done and you are waiting for it to cook, get them involved in clearing up! Most toddlers enjoy copying mummy, so get them to wipe the table and then let them wash up the bowl and wooden spoon while you are clearing away the rest. By this time your muffins will be out of the oven and cooled ready to taste with a well-deserved cup of tea!
Written by Ruth Chubb
For more hints, tips and recipes check out Ruth’s website www.threebearscookeryclub.com or go along to one of her cookery classes and leave the clearing up to her ;o)