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A kids’ kitchen is a great toy for imaginative children. Not only do these mini kitchens provide hours of play, but they also give children an opportunity to mimic the social behavior they see around them. Children can practice “cooking,” learn to negotiate with playmates, and develop fine motor skills while having fun.
Like other children’s toys, kids’ kitchens grow more sophisticated by the year. Wading through the options and features can be confusing and take more time than many parents have. So, how do you find the right kids’ kitchen for your child?
At BestReviews, we do the research for you. We also buy and test the products, ask the experts, and poll real-life customers. We never accept free products or perks from manufacturers either, so you can trust that our reviews are honest and unbiased. Our goal? It’s simple: to give you the info you need to make the best shopping decisions. If you’re ready to buy a kids’ kitchen, check out the matrix above for our five favorites. If you’d like to know more about what to look for before you buy, read on.
These small compact kitchens sit on the counter or table. They usually have a sink, faucet, and one heating element. Some come with a few accessories.
This design has a solid back piece that stands against the wall. Some designs come in an L-shape to fit in a corner.
Countertop kitchens usually include a sink, heating element, faucet, and a few accessories.
These models are double-sided. They may have a sink on one side and a stove on the other. They save space and offer a way for children to play across from one another rather than side by side.
These large kitchens have several stand-alone pieces. There may be a separate refrigerator and sink/stove combo or a refrigerator, stove, sink, and cupboards that are each their own piece. They take up a lot of space and are the most expensive option.
Double-sided kitchens allow play from either side. They not only save space but let children play across from one another, where they can make better eye contact.
A kids’ kitchen can take up a large amount of space. Many kitchens reach up to 44 inches in height and length and 11 to 20 inches in depth. Think about where you will place the kitchen.
Also, consider whether or not you want the kitchen to be accessible at all times. If you plan to store it, measure the dimensions of the space you have available.
Children gain confidence when they have complete control in their pretend world. A kids’ kitchen allows them to have free reign in their kitchen.
Plastic is the most common material for kids’ kitchens. If you’ll be moving the kitchen around the house, a plastic model weighs less. Children can be rough with their toys, and plastic stands up well to throwing and pounding. Plastic kids’ kitchens are more intricate because their features and accessories are made in molds. They usually cost less, too.
Wood kids’ kitchens are increasingly popular as many parents turn to natural materials for their children’s toys. (Keep in mind that many wood kitchens are made of particleboard.) The design of wood kitchens tends to be simpler. Wood kitchens weigh more for their size, which makes them more difficult to move. They usually come with fewer included accessories and cost more than plastic kitchens.
Some kids’ kitchens combine wood and plastic. They have the durability and natural look and feel of wood and the design flexibility of plastic. Depending on the size and included accessories, combination models are usually comparable in price to wood kitchens, although some are more expensive.
Kids’ kitchens come in many different colors to blend in with your decor.
Kids’ kitchens can come with everything from pretend food to plates, silverware, and cookware. If the kitchen doesn’t include accessories, you’ll need to purchase them separately, which can get pricey.
Microwaves with digital displays, heating elements on the stove that light up, or a phone that rings are all battery-powered features. Batteries can quickly get expensive, however, and kids can go through them fast if they’re playing with the kitchen a lot. Decide if this is an extra expense you want to undertake.
Pretend play helps children develop expressive language. As they mimic conversations and actions, they increase vocabulary and word usage.
For less than $50, you’ll find small, plastic stand-alone kids’ kitchens and plastic or wood countertop models. The kitchen may come with a few accessories like cookware and a few food items. It may also have a few battery-powered extras like stove elements that light up. You will see a difference in construction, quality of the materials, and size compared to more expensive kitchens.
At $50 to $125, you’ll find larger stand-alone kitchens made of plastic, wood, or a combination of the two. The included accessories start to get more intricate in this price range, everything from pots and pans to cooking utensils and baskets. There is more size and color choice at this price point as well.
Playing in a kids’ kitchen with friends gives children an opportunity to work on their social skills.
From $125 to $250 are kitchen sets that include a separate fridge and stove. They gain height, width, and weight as the price goes up. Design elements are more complex, such as retro kitchens and models designed to fit in corners.
At $250 and up are kids’ kitchens with several stand-alone pieces like refrigerators, stoves, counters, and sinks. The kitchen may come with a matching table and chairs, along with a host of other accessories. These large kitchens come in plastic, wood, or a combination of both.
A kids’ kitchen encourages a child to use his or her imagination and problem-solving skills.
Clean your kids’ kitchen and accessories often. Many children chew on plastic food just like real food. Do a good cleaning to keep germs in check.
Used kitchens may be inexpensive, but older models could have paint or other materials that contain harmful substances. It’s safest to buy a new kitchen that you know has passed all the current safety regulations.
If you purchase a large kids’ kitchen, you may want to anchor it to a wall to prevent tipping. This is especially important for families with children who like to climb.
Be sure to check the age recommendation for the kitchen. Many kitchens that come with accessories are not intended for children younger than three.
Cups, plates, and other accessories need to be regularly washed. For cleaning ease, look for accessories that are dishwasher-safe.
Q. Can a kids’ kitchen be stored in a closet, or will it have to be out all the time?
A. It depends on the size of the kitchen you purchase. There are many small models that can be stored out of sight without much trouble. They are usually lightweight, so they can be carried by one person. Some countertop kids’ kitchens are small enough to fit in a cupboard for easy storage. Be sure to check the kitchen’s dimensions before purchasing.
Q. Will I need to purchase food, cookware, and utensils separately?
A. There are some kitchens that come with accessories, but with some you’ll need to purchase accessories separately. Usually you can purchase accessory sets from the same manufacturer to match the kitchen.
Q. Is assembly required for kids’ kitchens?
A. Unless you’ve purchased a small model or countertop kitchen, there is usually some assembly required. The larger the kitchen, the more assembly you should expect.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.