Baking is a fantastic way for the whole family to enjoy quality time together and it is a great way to connect and build relationships with your children. I have included my daughter in the kitchen since she was barely old enough to sit up and baking with her is one of my very favorite things.

When she was very small, she would sit on the counter in her little chair and watch me and then as she grew I began to let her dump and stir the ingredients together. She loves being with me in the kitchen and is always quick to ask to “help mama” when I am working on something in the kitchen. Let’s not miss these opportunities to teach and encourage little hearts and minds!

Children of all ages enjoy spending time cooking and baking in the kitchen and these are fantastic life skills to learn! From practicing counting to learning and using different motor skills, spending time in the kitchen has the potential for many learning opportunities. 

In this post, I will share some tips and trick for including children in the kitchen, some of the easiest things to make and bake, as well as a simple recipe to make that doesn’t require any baking. 

Tips for Including Children in the Kitchen

1. Plan Adequate Time

Baking with children does require a little patience and definitely takes more time. Be sure to plan enough time for your baking so that you are not feeling stressed about the process. Baking together should be something that you choose to do for the connection and not necessarily because it’s a task that needs done, although the end product will be an added bonus. Planning this way will allow the experience to be more enjoyable for all of you. 

2. Prepare Your Ingredients Ahead of Time

Spend a few minutes gathering all the things you need – dry ingredients, eggs, oil, measuring cups, mixing bowl, spoons. I even like to pre-measure some of the dry ingredients and liquids when I can, this eliminates some stress from making sure the right amounts get added. I always let my toddler help measure and dump flour as this is an easy thing for her to do and it is good counting practice. 

3. Teach Children Safety 

Keeping children safe in the kitchen is an important part of the process. From hot surfaces to sharp objects, there are some real dangers that we need to take time to teach children about so they know how to safely participate and when we take the time to teach these things early on, they will be much more competent as they grow to safely work in the kitchen.

4. Think About Your Set Up

Be sure to think about the best ways to give your child hands on experience. Very young children may enjoy sitting on the counter to help, while big kids may like a step stool to stay close to the excitement. Either way, the purpose is to have a fun experience and enjoy being together so be sure you have the right tools available and set yourself up for success.

Best Kid-Friendly Recipes

Children have short attention spans so choosing recipes that come together quickly and easily will provide the best experiences for you and your child. 

Cookies, muffins, sweet breads, and other sweet treats are a great place to start. They require simple ingredients that you most likely already have on hand – flour, brown sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, oil, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

If you’ve never baked with kids before, start with a recipe that you both love and are super familiar with. As you get more comfortable including your kids in the kitchen you can expand this list of recipes and include your kids in even more baking adventures.

1. Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are a favorite cookie recipe in our house. Besides being a favorite of people of all ages, who doesn’t love to snack on the chocolate chips while mixing up the cookie dough? 

Peanut butter cookies are another favorite and a good recipe if you’re just starting. Besides mixing up the dough, kiddos will enjoy creating the checkerboard patter on top and sprinkling the cookies with sugar. 

Sugar cookies are another big hit with little kids. Although perhaps a little more popular at Christmas, you can find cookie cutters for all seasons and themes. Try making leaf and pumpkin shaped cookies in the fall or hearts for Valentine’s Day. The possibilities are endless. 

While we’re talking about holiday cookies, gingerbread cookies are another favorite. They don’t take a lot of time and children of all ages enjoy rolling out the dough and cutting out little men and women. Older kids will enjoy decorating their tiny men and proudly showing off their work. 

2. Muffins

Lemon poppyseed, pumpkin or zucchini muffins – we love muffins for breakfast or a quick snack. Toddlers especially enjoy muffins as they are a treat just the right size. Try making mini muffins for an extra fun twist! They are delicious fresh and also freeze and reheat wonderfully. Hot blueberry muffins are a perfect treat for a rainy Saturday morning or try apple muffins when you want those cozy fall vibes. 

3. Breads

Banana bread, zucchini bread, and even chocolate bread are some delicious quick bread options that will entice your children into the kitchen to bake with you. Additionally, if you have muffin tins, most quick breads can easily be made into muffins.

4. Cake Mix Goodies

Of course you can always just make a good ‘ole fashioned cake too and if you keep cake mixes on hand this is super simple since all you have to do is add a few ingredients – usually a raw egg, some oil and water. For something a little more adventurous, try making cup cakes or cake pops, both of these are super fun treats to both make and eat.

5. Fruit Pizza

For a delicious summer time breakfast or dessert, try making fruit pizzas! A simple recipe would be to take your favorite sugar cookie recipe, spread it out into the shape you desire and bake until just set. Spread with cream cheese frosting and top with berries, peaches, or apple wedges. Yum!

One of the easiest recipes to start out is a “cold” recipe. We love these peanut butter balls for a quick, nutritious snack, but they are also a super easy thing to whip up with little helpers. Nothing hot or sharp to worry about and very little waiting time. 

Peanut Butter Balls

3 c. quick-cook oats

1 c. peanut butter

1 c. honey

1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

1/2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. oat bran or flax seeds

Mix honey and peanut butter until smooth. Add salt, flax seeds, and coconut, stir. Add oats and mix until it comes together. Stir in chocolate chips. Shape into balls and refrigerate. Keeps for several days in the refrigerator.

I hope this post inspires you to include your children in the kitchen when you are baking. In addition to spending quality time with your children, you are teaching them valuable – and somewhat forgotten – life skills. The earlier your children begin to help you, the more competent they will become in the kitchen and before you know it they will be able to prepare and and bake things independently. It is truly a special time of connection and learning for both mama and child. 

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