Top tips for making baking & cooking with toddlers and young children less stressful and more and fun! Learn how easy teaching kids to cook can be!
Cooking and baking with children is a great thing to do with loads of rewards and benefits for you, and more importantly your kids. As well as exploring new foods, your kids will learn valuable skills in maths, science and literacy.
So how can you get your kids busy in the kitchen and keep your stress levels at a minimum? It’s possible (honestly!) but there are a few things you can do to make it a bit easier.
Here are our top tips for cooking with children. It doesn’t need to be stressful if you just prepare a little in advance! And, if you still need some convincing, read about why you should cook with children or find out some of the simplest kitchen skills you can get your kids busy doing in the kitchen.
Tips for cooking with children
Top tip 1. Have a little patience
To cook or bake with kids, especially young children and preschoolers, you’ll need lots of patience. It’s definitely not something to do if it’s ‘one of those days’. When children cook or bake, as with anything, they’ll probably slower than you, messy, easily distracted etc but if you go in prepared for that you’ll have a much happier time together. Which leads me on to #2 and #3!
Top tip 2. Be prepared for mess
Cooking with kids can get messy so you’ve got two options. The first is to have a cloth or wet wipes to hand. They’re useful if you need to tidy as you go along, or if you need to wipe messy hands. The alternative is just to let it be and embrace the mess, leaving it to the end to tidy up. Perhaps you can even get your kids to help you!
Top tip 3. Don’t rush
It’ll take longer to get anything done so don’t get your kids involved if you’re in a hurry. Weekends are a great time to plan and take on a baking project together. If your kids want to help cook dinner and you don’t have all afternoon to make it, give them a simple task to get on with while you get on with something else. Check out some easy kitchen tasks kids can do.
Top tip 4. Prepare in advance
To minimise mess and make things a bit easier, get everything you need ready before you start. I don’t know about you, but when I’m cooking i’m forever going to and fro the cupboard to get various ingredients I’ve forgotten. When i’m baking with the kids however, I make sure we have everything mostly so I can keep an eye on what the kids are doing!
If you’re using a new recipe have a read of it before you start so you know what you’re doing and can then keep an eye on what your kids are doing. I often find it easier to have a recipe printed out or written down beforehand or at least easily accessible on my phone.
Top tip 5. Set some ground rules
My kids know that they’re not allowed near the hob when it’s on unless i’m there. They need to stand back when the oven is open and keep their fingers away from sharp knives. Set some ground rules in your kitchen before you start so your kids know how to stay safe.
Top tip 6. Stand back
You might be surprised what your kids can do if you stand back and let them give it a go. Don’t hover and let your kids do it for themselves – let them crack eggs on their own once you show them how (just be ready to fish out some shell!). Get your kids to decorate biscuits and cupcakes (just be prepared for a lot of sprinkles and for them to look a bit messy at times!)
Top tip 7. Tidy as you go along
The bes way to keep on top of mess and stay organised is to put things away or out of reach once you’ve used them. I tend to put used ingredients on the counter away from where we’re cooking or baking – that also lets me keep track of where we are in a recipe and make sure we’ve not forgotten to include anything. Dirty spoons, bowls or spatulas that have been licked go in our sink until i’m ready to do the dishes.
Top tip 8. Manage your expectations
If you’re baking with children (especially little kids and toddlers) don’t expect it to look like a showstopper from the Great British Bake Off. Our baking looks like a child made them – the biscuits aren’t all exactly the same size, there’s more sprinkles than you could ever imagine and any animals or characters look a bit cross eyed or wonky but that’s fine! Your kids will have learned so much from their time in the kitchen, as long as whatever they make is edible that’s all that counts!
If you’d like to put some of these tips for cooking with children to the test and try some simple bakes with your kids take a look at our favourite easy baking recipes.