Baking with Toddlers

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molly and clara baking at the table

Molly and Clara just passed the 3 1/2 year mark, and this stage of parenting is presenting a whole new world of fun opportunities. I always planned to cook and bake with my kids. And even though (surprise, surprise), few things in parenting turn out the way we plan, this one has been even more fun than I ever could have imagined.

The girls love baking (and eating what they bake). They have been helping us in the kitchen for a couple years now. For historical reference, here they are making Strawberry Nutella Hand Pies back in February (at 2 years and 9 months old)


Clara baking Strawberry Nutella Hand Pies


Molly and Clara baking Chocolate Oat Bars

And here they are just last week working on a some pumpkin bundt cakes (at 3 years and 6 months old).


clara adding sprinkles to a mini cake


Molly putting icing on a mini cake

In these years of baking with toddlers, here’s what I’ve learned:

How to Bake with Toddlers (and have fun)

  1. Pick an easy recipe. Choose something simple, maybe even something that you’ve made before. Boxed mixes are pretty foolproof (even in the hands of toddlers).
  2. Choose a mess-friendly spot. It might be somewhere other than your normal baking space, but pick a spot with easy surfaces to clean. If it’s a nice day, taking everything outside will save a ton of time on clean-up.
  3. Pre-measure key ingredients. Ingredients like baking soda and baking powder can alter the recipe if they are not correctly measured. If your kids are new to baking, measure these into small bowls before getting started.
  4. Create a spill zone. I like to set out a big sheet pan for each of my girls and have them do some measuring and any decorating over the pan. This catches many (not all) of the spills.
  5. Have reasonable expectations. You’re probably not going to get a Julia Child-worthy tart out of the deal, but you’ll probably still get something tasty.

Clara adding flour to a bowl

The honest truth is that if you give them a little room, it’s really surprising how much they can do on their own.

Molly measuring flour

With the holidays ahead we’ve been doing lots of baking and have plenty more planned. There’s flour in every crack on the floor and the kitchen smells like a bakery.

Molly and Clara stirring in big white bowls

And no one around here is complaining…

Molly and Clara helping with baking

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and long weekend dear readers. We truly are so thankful for you.









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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. My gosh, they’re already 3 1/2?! Where does the time go?! My little guy is 21 months (yes, I’m still counting in months!) and we’ve done a bit of baking together, which for me has been an exercise in patience and letting go of the end result. I’m really looking forward to more of it!

  2. Oh my goodness I am just so in love with those two darling girls of yours. Such precious little angels and I adore their enthusiasm in the kitchen. So fun to see! Thank you Jess for sharing your family and all the fun and adorable pictures of your sweet girls. Brings back memories of cooking and baking with my two sassy gals and hanging out in the kitchen with my twin sister. Warmed my heart and made me smile. Many Blessings!

  3. What a fun post. All of our kids are grown, but your post brought back happy memories of baking with my kids one Christmas. My daughter was about Molly and Clara’s age and my son about 6. My father came in the kitchen after a morning of us cooking cookies and proclaimed that the kitchen was the biggest mess he ever seen. The mess is long sense cleaned up, that memory of cooking with my kids is mine forever. To this day, when we visit the US we always have a family cook together. And, yes there’s always a mess.
    Have a lovely Thanksgiving day!

    1. Ron, so glad you liked it. You really have to savor all these moments because they grow up so fast, right?! (It is a cliche but it is true!) Happy Thanksgiving!