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Fun cupcake toppings for the under 7 year old group?

So, what do you use? I'm looking for creative ideas and nothing that would choke a 3 year old.

The kids are doing the decorating. Favored color is pink, but bright and cheerful is fine. I've got some colored sugar and sprinkles. I have some fresh raspberries. What else? I'm thinking M & M's. They don't seem like anything that would choke a kid. What else?

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  1. Lots of ideas here:

    I came across the site recently when I saw the photo for Goldfish cupcakes, very easy (page 6 or 7). Those might not be suitable because of the peanut shaped candies, but so many other options including fruit loops, captain crunch, m&m's, etc.

    5 Replies
    1. re: lilgi

      Fabulous site, thanks. Some are too sophisticated for me, but there are tons of easy ideas. I had been thinking of marshmallows and loved the pig face. I think we could make teddy bears using the marshmallows for ears.

      I liked the idea of baking a whole strawberry inside. I stupidly bought mini cupcake pans thinking they would be a great size for kids. I did a test run and ... what a pain. They are difficult to fill and just so darn time-consuming. Anyway, maybe I'll try one with a small raspberry in the center.

      1. re: rworange

        I'll take a look at the site again for the pig face. The 'Hello Kitty' ones are just too cute for girls, if only I had an excuse to make them.

        1. re: lilgi

          Fruit loops and cap't crunch cereal on some of those cupcakes look like fun easy things to use--and can be bought in little single size containers.

          1. re: chowser

            Good idea about the individual sized cereal, especially since the op doesn't want to stock up on items she won't use. Some handmade stencils might be fun too, but the powdered sugar may get all over the place :P

            1. re: lilgi

              I finally had a chance to see all the cupcakes on the site--some are priceless. I can't imagine how much time they must have taken. Beautiful. But, many are simple and cute enough that little kids could do them, too.

              I was thinking stencils would be cute w/ sprinkling sugar. I was't sure how involved rworange wanted to be with overseeing that because of the mess, as you said.

    2. In my experience most kids think more is better when it comes to decorating goodies. I usually have a few coloured icings, I colour my own and then put them in ziplock bags and snip off the end to make an icing bag. If you go this route try to have one bag per kid or close to it so that no one is waiting too long to get decorating.
      Then I put out an assortment of sprinkles/candies in ramekins or small plastic bowls. If you are doing this with a lot of kids you may just want to make a small bag/bowl of decorations to give each kid so no one complains that they didn't get any m&m's or whatever.
      Cookie crumbles, chocolate chips, mini m&m's or candy coated mini chocolate chips(if you are really concerned about the choking hazard) make fun toppings. Visit the baking section of you local bulk food store and you will find lots of fun options!

      1 Reply
      1. re: cheesymama

        great idea about the ziplock bag. I've been fretting about spreading the frosting.

      2. I don't have much to add regarding the ingredients, but putting the toppings in muffin tins works really well. They are harder to tip, the choices are easily viewed and they make cleanup go faster.

        My nieces and nephews always loved gummys, the grosser the better. Not sure about for a 3 yr. old though.

        1 Reply
        1. re: meatn3

          That muffin tin thing is a wonderful idea. Thanks

        2. Actually M&M's are a choking hazard (smooth, hard, roundish). What about chocolate chips? Teddy grahams are great, or animal crackers. You could buy those little squeezable containers of frosting w/ the different tips. With colored sugar, makes sure it's in a sprinkling bottle and not something they have to dip their hands in (or it can get really messy). As much fun as decorating it, it's over in minutes for little ones. They just want to eat the frosting.

          11 Replies
          1. re: chowser

            As far as I know m&m's might pose a choking hazard for babies under the age of 2, definitely not 3 and above as the op posted and even then only the peanut ones...

            1. re: lilgi

              I was speaking more from personal experience with seeing it happen than with lists but generally try to avoid anything small, hard and round with the younger set. I think M&Ms are like hard candy. Seeing the heimlich maneuver done on a five year old is pretty scary.

              1. re: chowser

                On m&m's? I agree it's scary, but regular m&m's for children over 3 are a non-issue I would think.

                1. re: lilgi

                  Yes, M&M's and no one thought until then that it would be a problem until it was. As we talked about it after, we decided there really isn't a difference between M&Ms and hard candy (or skittles type candies). And, kids are more inclined to eat a small handful of M&Ms, which is what happened, than a handful of lemon drops.

                  Then again, as an adult I've swallowed a Mentos whole and thought my throat would never be the same (very painful). I guess it can happen with any age and any food when you come down to it.

                  1. re: chowser

                    But honestly the logic doesn't apply that they would pose a risk, and I don't think they're known to be a hazard for that age group. Small children can choke on many foods including cookies. Small round and hard as only one lemondrop, hotdogs, bananas, those peanut shaped candies I mentioned above, because they can just slide to the back of your throat. Again, m&m's wouldn't even be on my radar for that group but anything can happen.

                    1. re: lilgi

                      If you're that concerned about choking on m&ms buy the mini ones! I just bought a bag to put into some cookies. They're adorably cute and they're too small to choke anyone. I really wouldn't think choking on an m&m was a high probability... but anything is possible. Inhale at the wrong moment and you can choke on almost anything.

                      1. re: Kajikit

                        I think you meant to post this for the op, as I had said a few posts above it wouldn't even register on my radar for ages 3 and above and the list posted above specifies 4 and under, but there are parents and/or adults that have to exercise extra caution, especially when support systems are different for everyone, and these ages are only approximations.

                        When my children were growing up, it wasn't unusual to have an unusually large presence of adults supervising activities, and we tended to be a little more relaxed about these issues, but it's not the same for everyone, especially if you're only a couple of adults with a small group. And it sounds like the op must err on the side of caution because of the 3 year old.

            2. re: chowser

              Yeah, I've been considering the hazard of M&M's. I mean the youngest kid is bright and doesn't seem to have the need to put dangerous stuff in her mouth, but still. The animal crackers a a great idea.

              I know there are sprinkles and colored sugar in the supermarket, but they seemed boring. I'm thinking soft gum drops might work.

              Part of this is that I don't bake much ... seriously had to test drive using boxed cake mix ... god bless that stuff, it always comes out for me. So I didn't want to get stuck with a lot of stuff I'd never used again as far as colored sugars. I do have my mad Christmas sugar cookie spree, but that tends to center around red and green.

              1. re: rworange

                Gum drops are great. I usually wander around the candy aisle and see what catches my eyes. Things like nonpereils are fun for kids, more fun than the chocolate chips I suggested earlier. I know what you mean about having leftover sugar--I have a container that I pull out every year and I've had them for years. If you look in the cake decorating section at grocery stores, they have small, one time use quantities of things, too.

                As filling the muffin tins go, you can fill a ziplock bag like cheesymama said above for frosting, and cut a tiny hole out of the corner. The hardest part is the batter is a little thin and comes out quickly so you want a small hole, even if it takes longer to squeeze it out.If you use the ziplock bags for frosting for the kids to use, I'd squeeze the frosting to one corner and then use a twist tie to hold it down. If you don't, when the kids squeeze, it goes all inside the bag (think of squeezing toothpaste from the center of the tube). Filling the ziplock bag is easier if you put it in a cup w/ the opening at the top. I'll try to find a video but it makes it so much easier.

                1. re: chowser

                  Here you go, not a video but shows a good way to fill pastry bags (or ziploc bags) and have them ready to go:


                2. re: rworange

                  what about mini M&M's?
                  if u are worried about choking hazards..

                  u can even order/get any color or combinations of colors as well..
                  and they even do pictures on the regular ones as well

              2. I obtained a list, NO GUMDROPS, M&M's OR NONPAREILS under the age of 4 (I stand corrected on the age group for m&m's):

                5 Replies
                1. re: lilgi

                  i think my 3yo has eaten at least some of those without any problems...

                  she eats raisins...
                  she has had gummy worms once or twice...

                  but we only give her most of those once in a while as a special treat...and even that so far has been rare

                  1. re: srsone

                    Same here, although I was strict when it came to sweets so during parties they were a special treat, and most of the moms in my neighborhood were strict about candy as I was in particular.

                    1. re: srsone

                      They are not my kids, so I'll err on the side of caution as dI don'[t want to be hanging around making sure no one chokes on anything.

                      This gives me lots of ideas to hit the bulk bins so I can buy lots of small quantities of different things. If I can get a little bulk coconut that would work as well. I'd never use a whole bag of the stuff.

                      1. re: rworange

                        If you're not against food dye, adding food dye to coconut is cute for kids to see. Put it in a baggie and let them shake it around to see it turn colors. Then again, I did cupcake easter egg baskets for preschool one year and every child ate around the colored green coconut.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Since you don't want extras of seldom used products, you could also use food coloring to tint regular sugar if you have time.

                          An idea which can keep the amount of toppings smaller is to use waxed paper to create stencils. Place stencil over the iced cupcake and sprinkle colored sugar, etc. Craft stores like Michaels have a variety of inexpensive stencils available which are the right size.

                    2. how fun...

                      off the marshmallows and teddy grahams... why not graham crumbs, marshmallows and chocolate shavings....
                      i know it's a bit random, and not sure if it's a choking hazard, but popcorn or candy corn is a fun topping for kids
                      in the cereal vein, kids will go nuts for cookie crisp... i know it's gilding the lily

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Emme

                        That cupcake link in the first reply has turkeys made with candy corn and, I think, peanut butter cups for the body. I wouldn't do that this time, but it is in the back of my mind for Thanksgiving. I may not like cooking/.baking, but I get into decorating ... thus the gazillion sugar cookie cutters I have. For Thanksgiviing I could buy good chocolate cupcakes and add the turkies

                      2. I'm surprised no one mentioned Oreo cookie crumbles.

                        I know it would make a mess but the kids would have a great time actually decorating their cupcakes. Maybe using one of those cookie guns to put frosting on or maybe a ziplock bag with a tip in it. Peanut butter would work well. You might need a supply of big bibs for the kids or maybe garbage bags.

                        Hershey's chocolate syrup would work nicely.

                        1. There are things better left to the imagination.

                          Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge was one of them. It sounds glorious ... fantastic views and all. The reality is the noise from the traffic can be deafening. The gas fumes from the cars are sickening. It is freezing with the winds whipping through that ... gate.

                          And so it was with making cupcakes with the under 7 set. That vision of a fun time with delicious creative cupcakes ... not so much.

                          They loved the mini marshmallows. They loved the chocolate cupcakes. They loved the fruit loops. They loved the candies ... just not all together.

                          The kids were into deconstruction ... eating things separately.

                          The little girl in love with the color pink ... didn't want to see that color in or anywhere near her food.

                          I didn;'t listen closely enough when she said she liked chocolate. She wanted chocolate cupcakes with chocolate sprinkles. She grudgingly put chocolate frosting on the cupcake when the sprinkles wouldn't stick to the cupcake without it.

                          When i tried to put a few colored sugars and decorations on a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting, the 7 year old reacted like I was setting out traps for Mickey Mouse.

                          As to the mini colored marshmallows ... those were the only ones allowed near the cupcakes, at first trying to add them to the unfrosted cake ... they rolled off the cake and across the floor ... where she picked them up and popped them in her mouth ... I'm going with the 5 second rule here.

                          However, she said "No white marshmallows?"

                          The three year old loved the frosting ... on the same cupcake. After I spread the cupcake with frosting, she would decorate it then eat the frosting and toppings and hand the cupcake back for more frosting.

                          "You can eat the cupcake too and I'll give you a new one", I said. Nope.

                          I bought every other chip except chocolate ... peanut butter, butterscotch, vanilla, mint ... ok, I knew the mint wouldn't work with kids, but they were a pretty green. "

                          You didn't get chcolate?" asked the 7 year old looking at me like I must be insane.

                          Well, I just didn't like the look of the bulk chocolate chips and didn';t want to buy a bag, so nope.

                          The three year old was a sport, trying stuff that was new to her. She tried a mint chip ... not so good, as I suspected. She tried the butterscotch chips. I should have gotten a picture of her face as she chewed and chewed and .... chewed ... and then removed them from her mouth and tried to hand them to me. I pointed her to the kitchen trash can.

                          She pretended to try the peanut butter chip which I thought was sporting of her given she didn't like the other two. At least she pretended to try ... like eating pretend food at a tea party ... opening her mouth and looking like she put them in and chewing ... but the chips remained in her hand.

                          Thank heavens I bought the cheap $1 can of Walmart chocolate frosting as a back up. The 7 year old took one look at my homemade vanilla buttercream asked what that was, said "eeeewwww" and refrused to touch it.

                          They did enjoy smushing it up in bags with food coloring gel. The other two ate the colored frosting. The 7 year old just wanted to make every color of the rainbow ... and more.

                          To inspire creativity, I showed them the cupcake site. The 7 year old looked at the cupcake with M&M's and said "Did you buy those?"

                          "Um, no" "

                          Let's go to the store"

                          "Next time", I said and thought ... when you are in your 20's and have small kids.

                          She then selected one of the most complicated designs whcih I explained that having no fondant ... and talent ... we couldn't do.

                          She looked at ME in exasperation.

                          She was also into the Heidi cookie with oreos as hair buns. "Do we have those?" she asked. When told no ...well ... it seemed I picked out the wrong 25 or so topping decorations. I said I'd take her to the store next time to shop.

                          Surprisingly, the 10 year old brother was the most into the cupcake decorating and baking. Good for him. I might take him to a restaurant and bakery sometime to talk to a chef. He m ay have some talent in that area.

                          Everybody thought those mini cupcakes were a pain to make, but fine for eating.

                          Anyway, a good time was had by the kids which is the important part.

                          I'm sort of up for trying Halloween cookies, but I'd organize things differently based on this experiece. ... and buy lots of chocolate stuff.

                          I did re-discover the world of decorating supplies, some of which I bought, some I didn't.

                          I spent the extra $1.50 for coloring gels rather than liquid food colors and was VERY pleased. Somehow those liquids always wind up leaking because caps aren't on tightly enough. The gels are safer in that way and less messy ... though ... the concept of using only a tiny bit was different for someone who was 7 and squeezed half a tube into the frosting.

                          They have pens you can use to write on frosting. That didn't work at all. The 10 year old shared my fascination and thought the idea was weird. It didn't work. You have to wait till the frosting hardens ... and even then, the writing is way too light.

                          There is edible paper where you can cut out designs. I didn't go for that, but may consider it next time.

                          Thanks to everyone for the hellp ... espcially the ziplock bag idea which also worked for piping cake mix into that teeny, tiny cupcake pan.

                          Anyway ... that cupcake site is the fantasy. The photo below is the reality.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: rworange

                            and people wonder why reality tv is so popular....

                            isnt there a saying about little kids and herding cats???

                            my 3yo...if she doesnt like something after the initial taste..she just lets it fall out of her mouth...
                            not even into her hand or a napkin...just right onto whatever is in front of her...usually her shirt or bib

                            1. re: srsone

                              I actually have a box of white wine from South Africa called "Herding Cats". There are lions on it which gives a more intense slant to that phrase. I should have broke into it last night.

                              I'm starting to have some empathy and insight into The Simpson's Krusty the Clown.

                              I hate cooking in the first place. This brought it to a lower level of hell.

                            2. re: rworange

                              Thanks--your whole post made me laugh. Yeah, it's part of being around kids and not ever being able to script it. I was a brownies troop leader for too long. As Halloween cookies go, a little too soon maybe but they work great baked on lollipop sticks for kids to hold and decorate. Even cuter is to punch a hole out of the cookie, place it over a real lollipop (so the candy is in the middle of the hole) and bake. You get a fun stain glass cookie on a stick. That's the part you control--the rest of it is usually mayhem. I can't think of one project that went according to plan but the girls, years later, still tell me what they remember and how much fun it was.

                              1. re: chowser

                                Does the stained glass actually work? I tried it once and it bled under the cookies, leaving the holes empty. I'd hate for RW to have more frustration.

                                One thing I remember from when my son was in 2nd grade and I had to provide Halloween cookies is that the teacher begged me not to give the kids a choice. Make it Bat cookies OR Pumpkin cookies, not BOTH.

                                1. re: Glencora

                                  I've never had problems with it. I do it all the time with cookies and gingerbread houses. The dough has to sit flatly on the cookie sheet, though, so you do have to press down on the stick area.

                                  Yeah, choices aren't a good thing when kids want both and can't decide. I'm surprised the teacher was the one who asked you to give them a choice--they should know better!

                              2. re: rworange

                                I had a blast reading that, thanks for sharing rw. Fwiw your heart was in the right place.

                              3. Mini Oreos, colorful cereals like Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles, Lucky Charms, and Cap'n Crunch, cotton candy, sliced bananas and strawberries... Sorry for any repeats and good luck!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: inaplasticcup

                                  Well, although this session passed, I like the idea of cotton candy in the future. I'll bet it would make great 'hair'.

                                2. I recently made a cake for my 7-year-old daughter. I used star shaped sprinkles and then covered the outside of the cake with Twix Candy Bars. You could use any type of candy bar really. The kids loved it!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: busycookinthelou

                                    Sorry, I thought it said "Cake" toppings, not cupcakes. Oh well, you can still use the star shaped sprinkles. But I would add that you can use Twizzlers that are cut in small pieces, mini marshmallow (the colored ones would be cute), Smarties, Nerds or even Pop Rocks. I the kids would love Pop Rocks!

                                    1. re: busycookinthelou

                                      That is a fabulous idea! My kids would be so excited about candy on their cake like that!

                                  2. When working at an natural foods store I was tasked with putting on kids programs. The most successful for Halloween was having them just paint the exterior of whole pumpkins with acrylic paint. The under 5 set loved turning the paint into mud on the pumpkin and all were happy with their artistic expressions...

                                    Edible-wise, chocolate truffles were a big hit. The chocolate was prepared already. The kids got to roll it into balls and then go to different stations and coat them with their choice of toppings. Cocoa powder, coconut flakes, chopped nuts, I forget what else. The parents wanted to play too!

                                    1. I've decorated cupcakes with blueberries, sixlet-type candies, Lego candies, plastic rings, and the spray coloring with plastic army men. I just used Wilton's edible paper to make last-minute Lego cupcakes, and the kids thought those were fun.

                                      I've only done cookies for kids to decorate themselves, but I think the concept is the same! Lots of sprinkles, mini marshmallows, the tubes of sparkle icing along with homemade. I use small cups or cupcake liners with spoons for the toppings. I love the idea of fruits, and I don't see why oen couldn't include pomegranite, chopped kiwi, mandarin orange pieces and the like, too. Mini chocolate chips or m&ms would be fun, too. Any candy, really, really - my daughter used Swedish fish on a cake she made and thought she was so clever!