toddler girl laughing as she sprinkles Valentine cookies

      Cookie Decorating Photo Session

      When my little one takes a morning nap, big sister knows it is our time to play. Today, I had an extra special activity planned since it was Valentine’s Day. A pile of freshly baked sugar cookies. Bowls of colorful icing. And a painters tray filled with all kinds of sprinkles and cookie decorations. It was a toddlers dream come true! And a perfect opportunity to grab some pictures of my sweet little girl having fun. Our Cookie Decorating Photo Session session was so much fun!

      These long winter days really do start to drag on with young children at home. I’m always on the lookout for new crafts, activities and fun things for us to do and break of the day. Pinterest has some amazing ideas. Other times, I take a trip down memory lane to all the things I remember doing and loving as a little girl. As I was taking one of those nostalgic trips, I remembered how much I loved decorating freshly baked cookies with my mom and sister at Christmas. It was so much fun, why should we only do it at Christmas? Valentine’s Day was just around the corner and a perfect opportunity to decorate some cookies.

      Our cookie decorating (turned photo session) was a success! I loved watching her giggle and smile. What mom doesn’t love watching her child have fun? And daddy loved his Valentine’s Day gift from his daughter. If you’d like to try this with your little ones, here  are a few tips and tricks that I learned to help it run smoothly. Especially when your littlest helper is a toddler.

      Tips for Making Your Cookie Decorating Photo Session Stress Free


      Making the cookie dough, rolling it out and baking all those cute little hearts takes a lot of time. This step can be done days or even weeks ahead. Once cooled, store the cookies in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze if you plan to store them longer. I also recommend making the cookie icing the night before. I even put it in little bowls and dyed each a different color so they were ready to go and my little one didn’t end up with food coloring on her fingers. By doing a little prep work the night before, it only took a few minutes to pull together once our littlest one was ready for nap. Here is the exact recipe that I used to bake with my mom and now use with my girls.

      * I make sure to substitute dried egg white for the raw eggs in the icing just to be safe.

      Cookie recipe


      My little one wanted to help spread the icing herself. She is in that ‘I’m a big girl’ stage. Unfortunately, even our butter knives have enough of a blade on them to cut. So I quickly scrambled to find any tools I had that would spread the cookie icing while being safe for a toddler. Thankfully we had a few random butter knives that didn’t match our set and had no blade.

      • Plastic utensils tended to break too easily under a heavy toddler grip.
      • I did find that those fancy little cheese ball spreaders work really well for little kids. They are dull and safe. And they are much shorter than a butter knife so they are easy for toddlers to use.little girl in Valentine jammies decorating heart shaped cookies


      Sprinkles. The best part of cookie decorating! They come in so many colors. And so many types. Jimmies, Nonpareils, sanding sugar, quins, and dragees! If you are feeling adventurous, you can even try making your own sprinkles too! Little ones will want to try them all! But giving free reign over all those containers could leave you finding sprinkles in everything for weeks.

      To avoid an entire container of jimmies from being dumped on one cookie, I gave my daughter just a few of each type of sprinkle neatly displayed and organized in a small painters tray. Each compartment is small and can only hold a few sprinkles. So if they tray accidentally gets tipped, it’s not a big deal. And, it had 12 compartments which meant I could give her quite a variety to play with. If you don’t have a paint tray, you can find them at your local craft store or on Amazon. Or in a pinch, a mini muffin tray would work well too.

      This also gives your toddler great practice with those fine motor skills!

      toddler girl decorating Valentine cookies with sprinkles
      I learned the hard way that giving a toddler the entire bottle of sprinkles is not a great idea.
      close up of girl decorating Valentine's Day Cookies
      Keeping your cookie decorating supplies in a paint tray help keep the mess to a minimum.

      The results from our cookie decorating photo session

      I thought the best part of our cookie decorating was getting a quick photo session of my little one having fun. But I was wrong. It was seeing her so excited for daddy to come home so she could give him her present. She waited impatiently all day. And when she finally heard the door open, she ran them down the hall to him.


      toddler girl in valentine pjs decorating heart shaped cookies
      Plating up her cookies. Just look at that concentration!
      close up of a plate of child decorated Valentine cookies
      The final product. Now, we just need to wait for daddy to come home!

      If you give cookie decoration with your little ones a try, I’d love to know! Let me know how it went or if you have any tips to add in the comments below. And if you want other fun Valentine ideas for your little ones, check out this blog post with my favorite Valentine traditions for kids. 

      Valentine Activities for Preschoolers


      Photos by Kristen Fotta Photography


      […] Decorating Valentine’s Day cookies for daddy. […]

      […] You can see the full blog post of our last year’s cookie decorating session here. […]

      What a fun idea!

      Thanks! She had so much fun and still
      talks about making cookies when she wears those jammies.