A HUGE part of the holiday season, for me, is baking delicious cookies. I have wonderful memories baking cookies as a kid and it became a tradition with not only my mom, but with my nana too (my mom’s mom). My nana and I would always make gingerbread men. I remember standing on the chair, decked out in my mini apron, making a mess and enjoying sneaky tastes of batter/frosting/toppings. I can even recall picking off the raisins (used for buttons or eyes) because I hated the way they tasted after baking.
Lily is at the perfect stage to start this favored tradition. For an OCD freak, the thought of baking with a toddler would normally have me heading for the hills. Well today I have some thoughts & tips on how to bake cookies with your toddler!
Take A Chill Pill. Not literally….but go ahead and take a deep breath before you start. Most likely this will be a messy experience…but take it for what it is…an experience for you to make a memory. Your toddler may or may not remember, but you will.
Choose an easy recipe. Don’t make this harder on your self and choose a recipe with too many ingredients and 12 steps! For Lily’s first cookie experience I went super simple and used a cookie mix from a bag that only needed two additional ingredients! It was also one that didn’t need egg, so I didn’t care if she stole tastes of the dough!
Let your toddler help. What fun is it if you do all the work and your kid only gets to stir for a hot second? With the cookie mix, I let Lily pour the bag into the bowl (with assistance), and I let her hold the measuring cup of liquids when we both dump it into the bowl. Lily’s favorite part is the mixing. I give her a spatula and let her go at it for a while. After a minute I’ll grab the utensil and with her help, I will finish mixing the dough. If you need to use a hand mixer allow your toddler to place one hand to help guide. Obviously before you use the mixer explain that your toddler’s fingers need to stay away from the bowl and/or bottom of the mixer or they will get a Boo-boo. The warning of getting a boo-boo is enough of a warning for Lily!
Prep. Before you even get your toddler involved make sure you are prepped and ready! Make sure all your ingredients and the correct measuring cups are out. Melt your butter first. Beat that egg first in a small bowl that your toddler can easily pour into the mix. I don’t have one of those toddler step stools, so I just pull a chair up to the counter. This is another reason to have the ingredients ready because you do not want to leave your kid standing on a stool while you grab the milk from the fridge! To continue the apron tradition, my mom gifted Lily & I matching monogrammed aprons! Now whenever I tell Lily we are going to bake she bolts to the pantry to grab her apron…it is so adorable that I always stop and watch her do it! If you don’t have an apron, put one of your husband’s t-shirts over your toddler’s clothes! It will help keep them clean….or cleaner than if they didn’t have it on! OR if you’re like me and you plan messy activities in the am…just keep your kid in their pajamas! After the mess, just toss the pjs in the hamper!
If you are making sugar cookies using cookie cutters like we did then I have a great tip. To contain the mess (as much as you can) and make an easy clean up, use a cookie sheet that has edges as your work station. Damp a wash cloth and place it under the cookie sheet so the tray stays still and doesn’t move around on the counter. Sprinkle some flour on the tray and then let your kid spread it around and help you pat the dough out!
My best advice is find a cookie cut out that has a handle to make it easier on your toddler! Now most likely your toddler will just go crazy with the cutter and will not place the cookie cut outs right next to each other…who cares! Let them have the fun! Just keep rolling the extra dough together, pat out again and allow them to continue making their cookies!
Sneaky sneaky. They WILL attempt to eat the dough or place utensils in their mouth. It is inevitable! If you are uncomfortable with the whole raw egg, then you might want to try one of those bag cookie mixes that do not require eggs. But let’s be honest….licking the spoon and testing some of the cookie batter is part of the whole experience!!
Frosting. We went simple (again) and bought pre-made frosting that came with a small pack of sprinkles. Once the cookies were cooled, Lily got her own small cup of frosting with one of her toddler knifes to spread on the cookies. If you set your standards high for some Martha looking cookies…then you need to re-think again. While your toddler is having fun smearing some frosting you can decorate a few on the side….so you can have some pretty ones! But more than likely you will have some crazy looking cookies with way too much frosting or barely any! Remember it is all about the experience!
If you are adding sprinkles place some in a small bowl and allow your toddler to pick up a few at a time and sprinkle. I have used the kind of sprinkles that you normally just lightly shake over the cookies…but with a toddler there is no light shaking. The one time I used those with Lily, she ended up dumping most of the sprinkles on one cookie!
Remember to just have fun with it. You will have more of a mess to clean up than usual. The cookies might not look as pretty as your usual ones. BUT they will taste yummy and your toddler will have a blast!