The best kids’ kitchen
Play kitchens are a great way to keep little ones occupied while you're busy in your actual kitchen. They also give kids the opportunity to develop social and motor skills while having fun. Children will mimic cooking, and when playmates are involved, practice negotiating and sharing.
Play kitchens range from simple to quite sophisticated designs. To learn more about what considerations go into making a purchase, read our shopping guide on kids' kitchens. We've also included our top product recommendations at the end of this article, like Step2's Grand Walk-In Kitchen, which features appliances that light up and make sounds.
Considerations when choosing kids' kitchens
Countertop: The smallest and most compact kids' kitchen, they fit on a countertop or tabletop and typically include a faucet, sink, and a single heating element. These kitchens take up the least amount of space and typically are the least-expensive option.
Single-side standalone: These are designed to stand against a wall and have a solid backpiece. Other designs, which also have a backpiece, are L-shaped to fit into a corner.
Double-side standalone: This kids' kitchens can be accessed by children on either side. One side, for instance, may have a sink and the other side a stove. This design saves space and also allows playmates to interact across from each other.
Multiple piece standalone: Featuring the most realistic design and feature several separate pieces, such as a fridge, stove, cupboards, sink, etc., these kitchens take up the most space and are the most expensive.
Some play kitchens can be quite large and take up a significant amount of space. They can measure up to 44 inches high and 11 to 20 inches deep. If you plan on storing the kitchen when not in use, also consider if its dimensions will fit in your storage space.
Plastic is the most commonly used material for kids' kitchens. It is lightweight and durable, and it tends to be inexpensive. It also makes for the most realistic-looking toys. Wood, typically particleboard, are becoming a more popular material for kids' kitchens as parents are opting for natural alternatives to plastic. However, wood kitchens typically weigh more and can be harder to move than plastic (plus, they're more expensive). Combination kids' kitchens are made from both wood and plastic, offering the best of both worlds.
Some kids' kitchens feature accessories that light up, make noise, or have digital displays -- all of which require batteries. While this is something your kids will certainly enjoy, not all parents will be pleased with the extra effort and expense of charging or changing batteries.
Kids' kitchens won't be very fun for your children if they don't include plates, food, cookware and other play accessories. Check to see if the set includes these accessories or if you have to purchase them separately.
Kids' kitchens range in price from under $50 for a countertop or small plastic standalone model to upwards of $250 for a premium, multiple-piece set.
Q. What assembly is required for kids' kitchens?
A. There is usually some assembly required for larger kitchen models, and sometimes quite a bit. Small and countertop models generally don't require assembly.
Q. Are there any safety concerns I should be aware of with kids' kitchens?
A. Most sets are not designed for children under the age of three because their accessories can pose a choking hazard. Only buy new models that have passed the latest safety regulations to avoid materials and/or paint that contain harmful substances. For larger kitchens, consider anchoring them to a wall to keep them from tipping over.
Kids' kitchens we recommend
Best of the best: Step2's Grand Walk-in Kitchen/Grill
Our take: A premium kids' kitchen so well-equipped that it will make you wish it were your own.
What we like: Sturdy plastic. Appliances light up and make noises. Features both a grill and a bar for seating.
What we dislike: Assembly is time consuming. Not a lot of storage space for accessories.
Best bang for your buck: Little Tikes' Super Chef Kitchen
Our take: A durable kids' kitchen priced under $100 with lots of features.
What we like: Compact size designed to fit in a corner. Has lots of accessories, including a phone. Lights up and makes noise.
What we dislike: Some reports of doors not fitting properly for a minority of users.
Choice 3: KidKraft's Uptown Espresso Kitchen
Our take: A large, realistic-looking kids' kitchen that won't be an eyesore for parents.
What we like: Attractive set made from a combo of wood and plastic. Can be used by more than one kid at a time. Fully outfitted with kitchen appliances.
What we dislike: Accessories must be purchased separately.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds
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