The first thing I thought I’d mention is I have a 2½ year old daughter and I have been cooking and baking with her for about 6 months. It is probably worth taking these tips with a pinch of salt as each toddler is very different and it is best to trust your gut as you know your own toddler temperament the best! That being said, here are my top tips to make if fun for everyone!
Tip one – Have confidence in your toddler - They will amaze you on how much they can actually do themselves, whether that is pouring ingredients into a bowl, mixing ingredients, or successfully cracking an egg! Have confidence and trusting them and give them the opportunity to do the task, if you do it in a safe environment and it goes wrong, you and your kid can both learn from it.
Tip two – Embrace the mess - If you have the mentality that there is going to be a bit of mess and spilt ingredients when it happens it is a lot easier not to get frustrated at the situation and it makes the whole experience a lot more fun.
Tip three – If they cook it, they will probably eat it - I’ve noticed with my toddler she gets a real sense of achievement and is proud of herself when she helps cook something, meaning she always wants to at least try it. As a parent it is one of the most rewarding moments to witness. Remember there is evidence to suggest it takes kids 12 times of trying something before they like it! So don’t feel disheartened if they only try the food this time.
Tip four – Buy a toddler safe knife - I bought a few of these knives that are unable to pierce skin and are great for cutting soft fruit and veg. She loves cutting bananas, mushrooms and butter for baking!
Tip five – Weigh the ingredients first - The first time I baked with my toddler we made such a mess and it was very stressful weighing ingredients together, flour and sugar went everywhere! I now subtly weigh ingredients in smallish bowls and then she gets the satisfaction of pouring the ingredients into the large mixing bowl. It's great with eggs too if you say ‘I’ll crack them and then you beat them.’
Tip six – How to handle heat! - I find that creating a dummy pan and wooden spoon that has a few ingredients can work well if you aren’t ready to let your child stir a hot pan. Communication is key. I always make sure my toddler stands well back when I open the oven and communicate how hot and dangerous ovens are.
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