It’s almost a fact of life. Kids love cookies, eating them anytime the opportunity arises. And while it certainly can be messy, kids also love baking cookies. Getting in the kitchen with your little ones gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment, as well as a tasty treat to look forward to. Here are some tips for baking with kids:
While baking yourself, you may not need to pre-measure everything or find all the equipment ahead of time, but prepping everything from the ingredients to finding the bowls, cookie sheets and getting the oven preheated will save you some time in the long run. Plus, your well-meaning cutie won’t be tempted to add some extra flour for good measure.
Dole Out Age-Appropriate Tasks
The littlest bakers may not be ready for separating egg whites or kneading heavy globs of dough, but they can certainly dump ingredients into the bowl or help use an electric mixer—with an adult, of course. Elementary-age kids can do a lot of the work, and some may be ready to make a batch of simple cookies like peanut butter or chocolate chip with little supervision.
Older kids can handle more challenging recipes like these Italian peach cookies, and the key here, is to avoid micromanaging and give kids the chance to learn by doing.
Betty Crocker’s website has a nice breakdown of how to delegate baking responsibilities by age if you still aren’t sure.
Keep Messes from Taking Over
We all know kids make a mess, no matter what kind of project they’ve got their hands in. Accept that there will be some kind of a mess, but also take some measures to minimize cleanup. If you’re making cookies that require decoration, give kids a large cookie sheet to work on. Embrace the disposable too. Think popsicle sticks for spreading or laying down some parchment paper for a mess you can toss once it’s all over.
Teach Kids Proper Hygiene
The least fun part of the process, yet perhaps the most important, baking cookies with kids gives parents a chance to introduce proper kitchen cleanliness. Teach kids about the difference between raw and cooked ingredients and why you should wash your hands before handling food.
Be Patient and Have Fun
Perfectionists may need to let some things go as they introduce kids into the kitchen, but embracing the inevitable is the best way to boost kids’ confidence in the kitchen. If you’re acting nervous or are anxious about the mess or cookies that look a little misshapen, your child will be able to sense that. Kids get a number of benefits by learning to follow instructions and exploring their curiosity hands-on.
Bringing your brood into the kitchen doesn’t need to be stressful. Take it one step at a time, and make it fun. From decorating beautiful cookies to bring to the next family gathering to getting that batch of snickerdoodles just right, kids have a lot to gain by learning to prepare their favorite snack.