baking with kids tips

4 Tips For Baking with Kids + Healthy Ingredient Swaps

Baking with kids can be fun! If you have little ones that are wondering what you’re doing in the kitchen and endlessly curious about tools, processes, and ingredients, I have some tips on how to do this without it being a complete disaster!

In addition, I am sharing some healthy ingredient swaps and three of our favorite recipes. You can use certain ingredient swaps to increase the nutritional content. There’s no reason you need to use refined sugar, butter, and white flour exclusively anymore.

4 Tips for Baking With Kids

Safety first

You’ve introduced your baby or toddler to pretend kitchen play toys, cooking sets, play cutting vegetables, plastic knives, and utensils. It’s a great introduction to the real thing.

I realized my toddler had been simulating cooking and baking for years before I had him actually help me in the kitchen— which was helpful!

You’ll need to reinforce safety rules in the kitchen, keeping a safe distance from the oven or burners. Knife safety. Washing hands prior to any food prep.

A simple chat about cross-contamination might be in order since some ingredients are raw. Your child will need a stool so they can be at counter height.

If you have a kids apron, it can be fun for your child to feel like a “real” chef!

Tip: Raw eggs and raw flour both can be contaminated with disease-causing germs. Did you know this about flour? Teach your child to not taste or eat raw dough or batter in any form.

Pre-measure ingredients

pre-measure ingredients for kids

Let’s face it, little kids (toddler age in my case) are not patient, especially when something sweet is about to be made or baked. My toddler will ask me “is it done yet?” when I’m starting to even mention the idea of baking.

What I’ve learned is to pre-measure all the ingredients and set everything up in small bowls or cups before you bring up the subject of baking together. Start with a clean kitchen and clean up and put away as you go.


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Simple (attainable) tasks yield confidence

When baking with my toddler, we talk about recipes we want to make. He has fun looking at cookbooks. Anything with chocolate will get his attention, of course.

Over time I’ve had him try many alternative sweeteners to sugar and he loves all of the— cinnamon, coconut, vanilla, maple, honey, banana, apple sauce.

When helping me bake, I have him add pre-measured ingredients to bowls, stir, sprinkle, and shape the dough.

All of this is supervised and done at a moderate pace, as to not let him get distracted or bored. If he does get bored, I have an activity set up on the table for him to divert to.

He is so proud of himself for “cooking” and “baking” and I reinforce how well he is doing. He is astonished by the outcome!

Set a good example

Cleaning up and putting away ingredients as you go makes baking less chaotic. Wiping up spilled batter or dough immediately will help with any cross-contamination.

If you start with a clean organized working space and pre-measured ingredients, the chances of spilled flour all over the floor or sticky maple syrup running down cupboards is low because everything is already put away.

Repetition is good. You’ll feel like you’re repeating yourself a million times. You just keep reminding your child to wash hands, clean up and put away after completing a task.

My toddler has used the words unprompted “I’m cleaning up and organizing” when he’s putting toys away, so I know he has taken note of the sequence of events and actually understands it.

Kid-approved sweet recipes (that you won’t feel guilty about!)

I’m sharing 3 recipes that my son and I have made together.  These are kid-approved and you won’t be upset if they ask for seconds (or thirds!).

Maple Tahini Puffed Cereal Treats

rice krispie alternative

This smart, creative and nutritious hack of the traditional Kellogg’s Rice Krispie Treat is the best. In the original, you have 3 ingredients— butter, marshmallows, and white puffed rice. (what’s not to love you ask? ha.)

This recipe hack is a great example of making a sweet treat easy to make and loading it up with wholesome ingredients. This recipe is:
no-bake
one bowl
vegan
naturally sweetened
nut-free (uses seed butter for protein)

Ingredients: 

1/3 C maple syrup
1/3 C honey
1 tbsp. melted coconut oil
1/3 C tahini
1/3 C sunflower seed butter
2 1/3 C puffed kamut
2 C puffed brown rice

Directions: 

1— Pour measured maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, tahini, and sunflower seed butter into large Pyrex. Microwave in bursts of 30 seconds, until the mixture, is smooth. It will be hot.

2— In a medium bowl, mix the puffed kamut with puffed brown rice. Pour the liquid seed butter mixture in and combine well.

3— Scrape into a coconut oiled 9”x13” pan and spread evenly. Use parchment laid on top to pack it firmly into the pan. Refrigerate for a few hours before cutting into bars.

Credit: www.simplebites.net

Nutritious Banana Bread

healthy banana bread recipe

I have searched high and low for the best banana bread recipe— for years. I can never find the “best” one and so often they are full of refined sugars and butter.

This nutritious version of banana bread is really unique because it incorporates not only natural sweeteners but lovely spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. So delicious.

This recipe is:
vegan
naturally sweetened
light and fluffy (not dense)

Ingredients: 
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 C coconut sugar
3/4 C almond milk
1/3 olive oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4 C wheat flour
3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C almond flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Topping:
1 1/2 tbsp. rolled oats
handful of chocolate chips

Directions: 

1— Preheat oven to 350°F and coconut oil a 9”x5” loaf pan.

2— In a bowl combine mashed bananas, sugar, almond milk, olive oil, vanilla, apple cider vinegar and mix until combined.

3— In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

4— Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle with oats and chocolate chips.

5— Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Credit: www.loveandlemons.com

White Chocolate Peanut Butter “truffles”

white chocolate truffles healthy version

This recipe is the absolute bomb. I’m calling them truffles because we made them for Easter (in egg shapes) but they really shouldn’t be tied to a holiday. (I want to make them anytime, anywhere!)

The author uses crushed pastel eggs for a topping but we just used sprinkles. You can’t believe how delicious these are.

This recipe is:

no-bake
vegan (if you choose non-dairy chocolate)
naturally sweetened
nut-free (if you choose to swap seed butter for peanut butter)

Ingredients:
1 C creamy peanut butter (or seed butter)
2 tbsp. coconut flour
3 tbsp. maple syrup
1 C regular (or dairy-free) white chocolate chips
1 tsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Topping:
sprinkles

Directions: 

1— Line a baking sheet with parchment.

2— In a bowl combine peanut butter, coconut flour, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Dough should be thick.

3— Form 12 balls or 24 small “truffles” and place them on the parchment.

4— Place in the freezer for 20 min.

5— Melt chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave for 30 second bursts, until smooth.

6— Remove truffles from the freezer and dip each one in chocolate and place back on the sheet.

7— Add sprinkles.

8— Firm up in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Credit: www.kalejunkie.com

Happy Baking!

I hope you are convinced that baking with kids can be fun! I am a believer in setting up a child for success and involving them early in tasks that make them feel capable.

I also love sweets (and so does my toddler) and prefer healthy ingredient swaps to the more traditional fallbacks like refined sugar, butter, and white flour. I have been seeking out delicious recipes for years and I hope sharing these three favorites of ours inspires you to bake!

What are your favorite recipes and do you bake with your child?

Maureen Lowe
Maureen Lowe

Maureen Lowe is a Bay Area native that relocated to the high desert mountains of Southwest Reno with her family in 2017. Mama to her active pup and toddler boy, Maureen is a textile designer and graduate of CCA San Francisco. With a lifelong love of nature and the arts, Maureen has made it a mission to explore Reno’s scenic trails and cultural offerings to find kid and dog-friendly outings that work in all seasons.