How much fun is it getting stuck into some baking with your little one? One of the things I was most looking forward to about having children was being able to bake together; this is mainly because I love baking cakes (and eating them too), but also because it’s a wonderfully fun way to spend time together.
I started to get Rosalie involved in baking from a very young age, probably around 17 or 18 months old, and although she couldn’t do much then she’s gradually becoming more able, and it got me to thinking:
What is my toddler learning from all this baking?
Any opportunity to carry out tasks that aid the development of hand-eye co-ordination are excellent for toddlers. Things like spooning, scooping, pouring, rolling, stirring and cutting out shapes are all great for little ones to try.
New tastes, smells & textures
Raw flour? Dry Oats? Not really things I’d want to eat, but Rosalie loves to sample each ingredient as it goes into a recipe. I could stop her (and would if we were baking for anyone outside the family), but I think it’s wonderful for her to experience new tastes, and to discover what the ingredients are like individually, and then as a whole at the end. I encourage her to smell things and to feel them too, baking is a whole world of sensory fun.
Talking through the quantities and letting them help with the scales or measuring are all fantastic ways of exposing toddlers to numbers in an everyday context that will, over time, help with their recognition of digits and understanding of simple maths.
It’s good to expose our children to a wide vocabulary, and reading from a recipe introduces new words and a different style to that of a normal story book. By following the recipe with my finger and carrying out the method Rosalie is learning to connect new words with their action/meaning.
Feeling like you’ve achieved something can be a real confidence boost can’t it? Well that’s also true for toddlers – when they make something from scratch, see it through to the end, and get to taste the fruits of their labour, their confidence grows.
This is a very hard concept for toddlers to understand because it is so abstract, but by setting a timer and then having to wait for it to go off, watching the numbers tick down, they may begin to get a sense of time.
Baking with a toddler requires good communication. As you communicate what you want them to do, they are learning skills in communication themselves and it also gives you an opportunity to practice different ways of explaining things. I try to be extra patient with Rosalie and take things really slowly when we’re baking together so that she has time to interpret my instructions and nobody gets stressed.
When you think about it like this, cooking and baking provide so many wonderful opportunities for learning, as well as being a great bonding experience.
Do you bake with your little ones? Did you have any idea how much they can learn from a simple cooking session?