Special needs

How I made baking accessible for my child

Anchel Krishna makes baking a cake an accessible activity for her daughter.

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Syona gets into her baking session. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy.

For the past three months, anytime I ask Syona a question—seriously, almost any question— the answer is either cookies, cake or crackers.

Me: “Syona, what did you dream about last night?”

Syona: “Cookies, crackers.”

Me: “What do you want to eat for dinner?”

Syona: “Cake.”

After hearing Syona talk about cookies, cake and crackers for three months I thought she might be interested in baking.

So, after reading this adorable post about celebrating a stuffed animal’s birthday, I was inspired to bake a cake this past weekend with Syona. Although we didn’t celebrate the birthday of Syona’s not-so-precious stuffed puppy Bingo (she doesn’t care much for Bingo and tends to fling him around at her whim) we did decide to bake a cake to take with us to both sets of grandparents’ homes to share with our family on Sunday.

So we figured out a way to make it happen. The first step was simple: I had to let go of any and all expectations of controlling everything in an organized fashion. I think this is a step all parents have in common when we bring our kiddos into the kitchen, special needs or not. So, let go we did. Our cupboards, counters, floors and child were covered in a mixture of flour, cocoa powder and brown sugar—I’m guessing it’s a tasty combo since I found Syona trying to lick the cupboard.

Read more: Baking for beginners: 6 easy recipes >

When you have a little kid with a physical disability I think it’s still possible to make most activities accessible. Syona can’t stand on a stool, or stir on her own or scoop and pour into a bowl, but with a few modifications we figured out ways to make it work. She stood in her stander. She held the bowl while I mixed and then I held the bowl with one hand and helped her stir with the other. I scooped the ingredients and Syona dumped them in the bowl (well the bowl, the floor, the counters, her tray, the cupboards and herself, of course). She also helped me control the stand mixer by telling me when to turn it on and off. And she got to lick the spoon.

She loved every single minute of it. So did I. I always hoped to have some fun in the kitchen with our kid and expose her to all the fun that comes from making something from scratch. When Syona was first diagnosed with cerebral palsy I wondered about all of the big things, but more about the little things, like how she would be able to help me cook and bake.

Anytime we get to do some kind of activity like this together it reminds me that anything is possible if we’re willing to get a little creative and messy.

Do your kids help you cook or bake? How do you get them involved in the kitchen?