Holiday Baking Ideas for Children with Special Needs

The holidays are always an exciting time, especially for children. They see their parents working extra hard to decorate or bake special treats. The holidays present the perfect time to try to get your children more involved. Baking can be challenging for a lot of kids. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t want to be involved; recipes will just have to be adjusted to fit their needs. Knowing how hard is it to find ways for children to help, we put a list together of a few holiday bakes that your child may be able to help with. One quick note: be sure that any item you plan on baking is safe for your child before consuming – food allergies can be common in children with special needs and we encourage you to ask a medical professional if you have any questions.

Gingerbread Cookies. Gingerbread cookies are a classic for winter holidays and can be a tasty baking treat. There are also many ways to involve your child in this recipe. An adult can put the ingredients in different measuring cups or bowls and when needed, the child can pour them into the mixing bowl. The child can help roll out the dough too. They may not have the strength to completely flatten the dough, but they can start it for you. For extra sensory, let the child try to flatten the dough with their hands. Next, they can help you pick out the cookie cutters and use them to press designs into the dough. When the cookies are baking, give your child a timer and have them let you know when it goes off. The child can even check on the cookies during the process to see how they cook. These may not need to be decorated, but your child could pick out frosting colors and decorate them with sprinkles. Your child will have so much fun making the cookies and they will feel important and needed around the holidays.

Reindeer Cookies. This website has four pictures of different ways you can make reindeer cookies. You can decide which alternative works best, but the first or second one would probably be the easiest way to include your child. Start off with a basic cookie recipe and have your child help mix the ingredients. They can help roll the dough to make cookies and place them onto the cookie trays. Once again, let your child be in charge of the time. After the cookies are done baking, let them cool for a couple minutes and then begin to make the reindeer. You still want to cookies to be soft, but cooled enough so the child doesn’t burn their fingers. The child can help press the pretzels into the cookies towards the top for the antlers. They can even pick out the colors of the candies for the eyes and ear. They can help press these into the cookies to finish the reindeer.

Holiday Cookie Bar. While this website uses ingredients with Christmas colors, you can switch them out to fit any holiday you may celebrate. The recipe is very simple, but provides ways your child can be involved. Your child can help collect the ingredients and use their hands to spread it onto a tray. They can also help put sprinkles and another decorative ingredient on top. Always let your child be the timer and after it’s done and cooled, they can help break the bar apart into serving sizes. It is simple, but yet your child gets to help and be more involved with holiday festivities, including the baking.

Snowman Cookies. It’s not winter without snowman so making snowman cookies is a great way to celebrate the holidays. Like the reindeer cookies, there are a couple ways to decorate the cookies. The one here uses a marshmallow for the snowman’s body, and this one makes a melting snowman. You can pick either to make and find ways to include your child. You can use any cookie recipe you want and have your child help with the ingredients and mix it all together. After the cookies are done, your child can help decorate. An adult can help with the frosting and the child can place the decorative ingredients. These cookies are a great alternative to traditional sugar cookies and a child will take a lot of pride in helping out.

Glitter Ball Cookies. The fun part of these cookies is that it can be decorated with colored sugar for any holiday. You can even have your child pick out colors or decide between a couple. The child can help pour the ingredients in the mixing bowl and they may be able to help roll the dough into little balls. If not, they can help roll or cover the dough in the sugars. These are not traditional cookies and is something different for a child to help with.

Baking can be great sensory for your child and let them feel needed during the holidays. They will take pride in helping and being a part of the process. Holidays can be super busy and taking time to bake with your child can be good bonding time. It may be difficult to figure out how to include your child, but once you do, it can be pretty easy. We hope these recipes can work for your child or inspire you to include them in other baking.

If you have any questions about Cerebral Palsy or would like to learn more about cooking with children with special needs, don’t hesitate to call us at (800) 692-4453 or fill out our contact form on Facebook or our website.