Recently, I bought Hershey’s Cocoa Powder and Hershey's Chocolate Chips to bake Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Brownie. Attached to the products is a mini Hershey’s recipe book with all sorts of chocolate goodies. So I decided to try the chocolate chip cookies recipe with Baby O as our little activity today.
Baking is such a great activity with toddlers. It is one of the activities that stimulates all senses! The child is able to see all the action and ingredients and tools, hear the clanging and noises spoons knocking on bowls, touch the different textures of the butter or cookie dough, smell the aroma of the cookies baking in the oven and finally taste it! Yum yum! On top of that, baking also develops language. During the activity, words like big, small, round, brown, crumbs, mix, fast, slow, and uh oh! (very often) can be related to relevantly. Have I mentioned that it is also therapeutic for the parent?
For parents who would like to conduct this baking business with their young ones, I recommend you to:
1. use a simple recipe with not too many ingredients - it will be a handful minding a toddler and trying to get everything together. You wouldn’t want yourself of your toddler getting frustrated so keep complicated recipes for yourself another time. Chocolate chip cookies is a good start.
2. bake something that the little one can enjoy later too - after all, he/ she did help out. It is only fair for him/ her to enjoy the fruit of his/ her labour! So go for something light or reduce the amount of sugar or omit the salt and use unsalted butter. You might even want to substitute chocolate chips with raisins.
3. expect mess, maybe loads of them - use a clear space and prep toddler with apron/ bibs/ clothes you don’t mind staining.
4. keep the communication going - this might be one of the most important step for the activity. Explain the steps while measuring, mixing, etc. Tell him/ her how the scale or oven or mixer works. Show him/ her how you crack an egg.
5. use a low surface - we prepared our cookie dough on an IKEA Lack side table which is at the right height for Baby O to participate and see all that is going on. If you don’t have a suitable low table, another suggestion is to prop your child on his/ her highchair while you prepare on a surface next to him/ her.
6. clean up together - don’t expect your toddler to wash the mixing bowls but you can always wipe the surfaces, put things away and wash your hands together to instill the responsibility.
7. take it easy - you’re not going to make a living out of this so just enjoy the process (and the cookies) together!
Note: Baby O is 19 months old at the time of this post. You can also start baking with babies. That's right! Sling them on you or put them on their high chair and dictate all the steps that you are going through to promote language development. It's never too early!