Did you know that getting your kids involved in holiday baking could help them meet their therapy goals? Whether it’s OT, PT, or Speech, helping out in the kitchen can be full of benefits for little ones. Plus it’s great time to spend together as a family!
Tips to make holiday baking with your kids successful:
If your child is younger and/or needs more supervision, have them help with basic steps such as pouring ingredients from cups (with your help if necessary), stirring, etc. This is great practice for both gross and fine motor skills.
If your child is older and/or more independent, you can ask for their help with measuring and following multiple step directions using a recipe. This is great for speech and language comprehension!
In addition, interacting with new foods of any kind can be helpful for kids who are picky eaters or have sensory sensitivities. Make it fun! Set aside some extra ingredients and let kids experience messy play and mix them by hand (if this makes you squirm, just remember - it’s about exploration! You don’t have to use this in your finished baking product). Or, if your child is hesitant about different textures, gently encourage them to stick just one finger in and then tell them how proud of them you are! Expand conversational skills by talking about the qualities of the ingredients (what color is flour? Is it wet or dry? Light or heavy?).
Decorating can be a fun final step that further bolsters fine motor skills and creativity, whether it’s selecting sprinkles or spreading frosting. Finally, celebrate all the hard work with getting to taste the finished product! Don’t force your child to eat if they’re still feeling skeptical, but rest assured that all the fun interactions with food you’ve just facilitated are building blocks towards becoming a confident and adventurous eater. And if you’re worried about allergies or simply don’t want to give your kids too much sugar, there are plenty of healthy and alternative holiday recipes out there to fit every family’s needs (just a Google search away).
Happy holidays from Aspire!
Melanie Sard is a licensed Occupational Therapist with Aspire Therapy.