Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday: Baking With Tiny Tots

Since I've now baked sixteen different cookie recipes with my kids (ages two and four) during our Christmas Cookie Countdown, I've become a bit of an expert on baking with my children.

So, I thought I'd share a few tips today on baking with tiny tots - and how to really get the most out of time in the kitchen with them.

1. They can do more than you think. My four year-old can roll out dough, pour flour into a bowl, stir in chocolate chips, and can almost crack an egg. If you don't mind a bit of extra time and clean up, the investment in them is so worth letting them try!

2. A hot cookie sheet is just hot - not deadly. Freaking out about a hot pan only increases their fascination with it. The boys loved pushing the Hershey kisses into the centers of our Peanut Butter Blossoms and Kiss and Drizzle Cookies. I left the cookies on the cookie sheet while they were adding the Kisses and talked to them about being very careful not to touch the pan. They were more careful than I ever am.

3. Choose recipes with pictures. When we're about to bake our cookie of the day, I first show them the picture. They get really excited when they see the finished product - before we've even started. Teaching them to make something yummy out of a bunch of ingredients has given me so much joy this year - and is a great tool in teaching them to follow directions.

4. Encourage their creativity. Let them do it their way, when possible. So, icing is spilling over the edges and sprinkles are all in one spot. Who cares? Let them experiment and develop their own designs and shapes.

5. Take pictures. When I pull out my camera to take pictures of them baking, they see how proud I am of them. And, we've captured the memories forever.

6. Let them get ingredients from the pantry. They know what powdered sugar and chocolate chips are because I let them go and get them. And, I have them put things away when we're finished.

7. Pour on the praise! They thrive on it.

8. Be patient. This is the most important thing I've learned. They know when I'm getting impatient with them and it breaks the spirit and mood of why we're baking together. My impatience tells more about me than it does about them.

9. Have them clean up, too. Our kitchen stools help them reach the sink perfectly. They rinse utensils and "scrub" bowls (meaning they fill them with water and then dump them out - over and over). No, it's not much help, but it's teaching them that clean-up is a very important part of baking.

10. Laugh, laugh, laugh. I want them to remember our time in the kitchen as fun and silly and joyful and full of laughter. So, we giggle at spilled flour and egg shells that roll onto the floor. I want them to know the true joy that being in the kitchen can bring to their lives - and to the lives of others.

*You can see more Works For Me Wednesday tips at Rocks In My Dryer each week. If you have a tip to share, go to her site and add your tip! The guidelines can be found here.


  1. great list and great reminders for how to have your littles help with anything, not just cookies. good for you!

  2. Sarah - I just want to tell you that I think you are a great Mom!

  3. You are wiser beyond your years! Love this post!

  4. and on last suggestion: "let go of perfection!!" LOL!

  5. You are such a good, patient mom. I let a 2 and 4 year old bake with me, too. I agree-kids can do more than people may think they can. I have never laughed over spilled flour, but I probably should. (or at least not get as upset). Keep up the good work with your boys!

  6. 11. A shot of whiskey for mom doesn't hurt either.


    I would need the whole bottle to accomplish this amazing feat.


    or not. :)

  7. I was talking about you at work today and the women I work with think you need to put your Christmas cookie countdown together in a book to pass on to other moms. (Obviously they don't blog.) It's a great idea and spreads the spirit of the season along the way.

    Let me know when you have this done. It would be a great give-away :)

  8. Really been out of commision around here (almost on my death bed or least I thought so.) So sorry I missed you give away :(

    Hope you are having fun with it all! Congrats to your winner in advance.

    I'm thankful for the gift of knowing you and your precious family. That's gift enough :)

  9. 1. Really wondering if you actually know who that last comment is from.

    2. lol at Janelle's comment

    3. I LOVED this post! You have captured the spirit of fun in the kitchen for your boys. Learning while having fun is just the best...and so are you.

  10. For any interested parties, the comment before Lynn's was from - um - a weird spam.mer.

    Gotta love it.

  11. you are such a good mom. you are teaching your boys so much and all while you're having fun. who knows, they become chefs or bakers because of what you've taught them.

    and i think ginger has a great idea there =)

  12. This was a good reminder for me to slow down and not be in such a rush when my kids are in the kitchen with me - thank you!

  13. These are some great suggestions - ones I will definitely take to heart (especially the patience and messy parts). Thanks for the ideas!

  14. Okay young mom you are teaching this old mom important lessons. I wish I had been as laid back when my kids were your boy's ages. You rock!

  15. Love it! I love to bake with my two year old. She can pulse my mixer, pour water into the bowl, empty measuring cups...and eat all the chocolate chips I "accidentally" spill. ;-)