Recipe for Holiday Success: How to Safely Teach Your Children the Joys of Cooking and Baking

I love baking with the kids. Sister enjoys measuring and mixing the ingredients, brother loves taste testing! It’s never a tidy activity but we always have fun with it. So when Daniel Sherwin, from Dadsolo, reached out to me about writing a post as a guest blogger on safely teaching your kids the joys of cooking and baking I could say no?!

Photo courtesy of Pixabay by laterjay

Those of us who enjoy cooking or baking know it’s a creative form of self-expression, relaxation, and joy, and the holiday season is a perfect time to partake in your favorite pastime even more and possibly pass on the love to your kids. As it turns out, your favorite pastime might actually be good for your mental, physical, and emotional well-being, too. That’s right; science says cooking and baking reduce stress and associated physical, mental, and emotional conditions.

If you’re looking to limit your child’s screen time, cooking or baking with your children can be an excellent alternative to computers and Minecraft, especially during long winter breaks from school or snow days. By spending time together in the kitchen, you’ll prepare your kids for a lifetime of healthier, happier choices. Just like hobbies such as painting or playing guitar, cooking and baking provide children (and adults) with an outlet for creative expression, as well as a way to communicate our love for others and spread the spirit of the season.

Start by choosing easy, age-appropriate recipes. Delegate tasks to your child that can be performed safely. Cooking and baking also provide an excellent opportunity to teach your child about germ control and food safety. If your child has long hair, teach him or her to pull it back prior to making food. Remind your children to keep their hands clean, and to wash frequently to avoid cross-contamination of foods.

Never give knives to young children. When you feel your child is ready to start cooking with knives, start with a plastic knife or butter knife and teach them how to safely hold and use the knife.

As your child gets older and more confident in the kitchen, you may begin teaching more independent tasks, such as using the can opener or microwave. Children above the age of twelve are often capable of much more complex recipes; however, you should still supervise your child at all times while cooking or baking.

Fire prevention is another important consideration. Kitchen fires do happen, and are a common occurrence what with all the cooking for holiday parties and gatherings, so never gamble when it comes to the safety of your family or your home. Here are some expert tips on how to prevent fires and handle unanticipated emergencies:

1. Test your smoke detector. Testing your smoke detector regularly is one of the most important things you can do to protect your home from a fire. Because three out of five house fires involve homes without working smoke detectors, having a working smoke detector with good batteries can spell the difference between life or death.

To keep your family and your home out of harm’s way, you can add a recurring monthly reminder to your smartphone or calendar to test your smoke detector. Experts also recommend adding a reminder to change your smoke detector’s batteries once every six months. Even if your home breaks out in a fire, the results can be much less severe if your smoke detector is in good condition with working batteries.

2. Never leave children unattended. Keep watch over your child in the kitchen, especially if you have young children or kids (and teens) who are new to cooking or baking. It is important to never leave your child in the kitchen unsupervised. You might also teach your children a house rule: that they only cook or bake when an adult is in the room to supervise.

3. Plan for emergencies. Just in case of an emergency, make sure there is a fire extinguisher in your home… and learn how to use it. Teach your children how to safely evacuate the home in case of a house fire. Tell your children how to contact 9-1-1 in the event of an accident, fire, or other unexpected emergency. Hopefully, you’ll never have to do any of these things but just in case, it’s important the entire family is educated on what to do.

Cooking or baking together as a family is a fun way to bond while teaching confidence, self reliance, healthy food choices, and other life skills. Your children will have a lifelong creative outlet, which will benefit their mental, emotional, and physical health. By adding kitchen safety to the mix, you’ll be helping them create a delicious recipe for continued success for years to come, and pass on a holiday tradition you can enjoy together for years to come.

Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.

Tutorial: How To Wrestle An Alligator (Or Suction a Toddlers Nose)

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‘Tis the season. Days are shorter and nights are longer. The weather is colder and the trees have shivered off all their leaves. People are bustling here and there, gathering their goods for the upcoming holidays. Everywhere you look there signs of winter, it’s lovely and wonderful, until you hear it.

It’s a sound that as unique as the individual it belongs to, but as familiar as your childhood home. It’s a sound that any parent can recognize when issued over a mile a way. It’s a sound that can make a grown man shudder. It’s the sound of the first sniffle.

That wretched little sniffle is followed by more and more until finally the quantity of ooze that’s escaping your child’s nose can’t be ignore any longer. The reality of a winter cold is no longer deniable and the sniffle is no longer just a little noise, it’s a problem. A problem that may be accompanied with a cough, a fever, a grumpy child and will probably be followed by everyone else in the household developing a “sniffle” too.

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The problem with this little sniffle is that little babies and toddlers haven’t mastered the art of blowing their itty bitty snot filled noses into a tissue, and it falls onto your shoulder to clear their nasal passageways not only for comfort, but so they can breathe (that last bit is really important). There are a variety of tools that can be used to perform this task, however, I will only be discussing one today.

The bulb syringe

Anyone who masters the use of a bulb syringe can be likened to a master Jedi. This task could be compared to wrestling an alligator, if done incorrectly one could lose a finger (the probability is pretty low, but I’m sure there is still a risk). Your technique and timing must be perfect and the element of surprise is incredibly beneficial. The less your child knows, the better….

Now my husband and I have tried a variety of approaches; the two man, the under the leg, the football hold and the pretzel. None had proven effective, until we tried the COCOON. The ease with which the copious amounts of goo was able to be removed from my sons nose left me awe struck. It is so easy, that I had to share it.

How to successfully use a bulb syringe to clear noses using the cocoon method:

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Gather supplies: you will need bulb syringe, saline spray or drops, tissue or wipes and a blanket

Lay blanket flat and place child in the middle of it. Wrap one side of the blanket across child and tuck under (make sure the arm is tucked in). Wrap the other side across and secure it under the now swaddled child. Both of the arms should be tucked inside (now those grabby little hands can’t “help”). Drop a couple drops of saline in each nostril, use bulb syringe on each side to pull out the yuck, and voila! Clean nose, happy baby, hand with all it’s fingers.

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Operation Save the Dream Lite

Siri, please define Poop-tastrophy

This is a surprise event that typically occurs within the confines of your child’s crib, car seat, or whatever other location said child happens to be in at the moment of occurrence. This is most often associated with detailed fingerprinting murals with a substance that resembles chocolate, I assure you that this is not indeed chocolate, please refrain from testing my knowledge. Most often there is a gag inducing smell involved.

Interventions should include donning a hazourdous waste material suit. Proceed to remove said child from the event location and wash thoroughly. Feel free to vomit as needed, but remove hazmat mask first. After said child is scrubbed free of debris you may turn your attention to the event site. This is best dealt with by retrieving offended items with kitchen tongs (to be thrown away after) and placing them gently in a garbage bag never to be seen again.

Practices to prevent poop-tastrophy from reoccurring: NEVER put said child to bed in two piece Jammie’s again.

Scout didn't survive :-( NO amount of "gentle scrubbing by hand" was gonna save him...
Scout didn’t survive 😦 NO amount of “gentle scrubbing by hand” was gonna save him…

So after finding my sweet cherub cheeked nudist playing in his poo, I freaked out.  I had to scrub every inch of his crib, and inspect each and every toy that he may have included in his excrement excitement.  I will admit that several toys did go straight into the garbage can, including his favorite buddy Scout  (He was quickly replaced by one of his loving grandmas).

Scout was not the only participant in the poo party, little man had also included his second favorite toy, his Dream Light.  This is a lovely pillow type stuffed animal with an electronic battery operated light that glows in the middle of it.   There is also a little tag that says HAND WASH ONLY in menacing letters.  Great for bedtime snuggles, nightmare for mommy to clean.  Yet I was determined.  What’s a determined mommy to do when she has no idea how to do it?  Grab a screw driver a hammer and have at it!

Cue mission impossible music 

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You will need a screw driver, but you won’t need a hammer, unless you get frustrated……

Steps 1 and 2
Steps 1 and 2

1. Pop dream lite top off. Difficulty rating 1 out of 10, unless being helped by a know it all four year old
2. Unscrew screws, there are 8 of them. Place these in a secure location. Do not, I repeat, do NOT let four year old hold screws no matter how much she begs. Or you will spend the next 20 minutes on your hands and knees.

3. The top frame pops off the bottom frame.  Gently tug the two tabs inside to release it.  If gently tugging doesn’t work, feel free to take it pent up aggression and rip the sucker off.  I cant guarantee success if that route is chosen.  Once it’s free, flip him on over.

Step 4 and 5
Step 4 and 5

4. Unscrew screws, there are 6 of them.  The four year old has probably disappeared and been replaced by little brother.  Do not offer screws to him to hold or you will be waiting a loooong time for them to reappear.

5.  Pull light box out!  Pat yourself on the back, do a happy dance, eat a cookie or 6, however you want to celebrate the completion of a successful mission!

Follow the steps backwards after washing and drying to put him back together again? It is VERY important to make sure the fabric is caught between the top and bottom frame.  Here’s you a photo of the easiest way to do it.

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