I bake a lot of cupcakes in my (limited) spare time. It’s a way to be creative, use my brain for something other than my day job, and to share the fruits of my labor with family and friends. That said, my 3-year old grew up watching me bake long before he was able to actually eat a cupcake. He eventually started to wander into the kitchen asking to “help.” While I wanted him to help, I could slowly feel the anxiety creeping in: he’s going to make a mess and slow me down! However, I quickly set that aside and embraced the opportunity to share something I enjoy so much with my kid. Over time, I’ve been able to welcome him into the kitchen with a few go to tips:
Get a toddler size apron and chef’s hat
We all love to see our kids in cute stuff. There is nothing cuter than a toddler size apron and chef’s hat. Kids also love to dress up! It really sets the stage for your kid being a great helper in the kitchen. It also serves the most obvious purpose in keeping their clothes free from much of the mess – it’s a win for you!
Use a step stool so your toddler can reach the counter
There are a lot of different contraptions out there that give kids al little lift in the kitchen. For example, a “Learning Tower” or “FunPod.” They tend to be a bit large, however, and are better suited for a bigger kitchen. Many kitchens in D.C. tend to be smaller. As a result, I prefer just a simple folding step stool that can easily be moved around the kitchen – counter to stove and back again.
Embrace the mess
Maybe the biggest shift that’s needed for us parents out there is to just embrace the mess. I let my son pout the flour in the bowl, pour the milk into the Pyrex measuring cup, or even crack an egg- YIKES! I relax and ignore the mess that’s being made at the same time because I see the smile on his face – and besides, it’s the way he learns.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor
Waiting for the cupcakes to bake is obviously the hardest part for my kid (and any kid). Since cupcakes cook much more quickly than cakes (15 minutes as opposed to 30+), it’s easy to find a game to play while they are baking. I quickly take them out and pop a couple in the freezer for a few minutes of cooling time before slathering on some frosting and then digging in.