The Top 3 Best Play Kitchens For Kids

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Play Kitchens: what are the best brands?

Kids love imitating us. They also love using their own imaginations. One place these two traits intersect is the play kitchen! But, what is the best play kitchen?

A child-size kitchen makes it possible for kids to try their hand at cooking, with maximum creativity, and no risk of getting burned!

We were gifted our first play kitchen around my daughter’s first birthday and it was a thing of wonder! If I had a dime for every make-believe dish I was served, I’d be a rich woman.

It was a traditional plastic kitchen we were first gifted, and we purchased some wooden food to go along with the plastic food that was gifted with it. I’m a big believer in free-play, as opposed to adult-led play, so the dishes she whipped up were all her own.  Spices were shaken out of wooden blocks and everyone was required to take a small taste before she served the final dish.

Her kitchen; her rules!

Perhaps it’s because she had always been included in cooking meals by myself and her father that she knew what ingredients would go well together, and I’m sure my husband allowing her to raid the spice cabinet and learn every delicious taste and smell didn’t hurt, either! But….we were also served plenty of banana and onion soup served to us, as well! Par for the course.

Should I get a plastic or wood play kitchen?

So, our first play kitchen was just for play, and it was wonderful! It was completely plastic (which I hate for environmental reasons, by the way). But my daughter cared for it, like it was a real kitchen; her workshop! And she took the meals she made very seriously.

When I started learning about Montessori and “Practical Life” activities, I became more interested in different types of play kitchens.

What is the best brand of play kitchen?

It depends what function you are looking for in a play kitchen, as to the features you want.

For a pretend play kitchen, this one is an excellent choice!

Cooks Corner Wooden Play Kitchen (Sponsored Link)

It has a timer that “dings” an oven that open and close. Add pots and pans and some play food and you have hours worth of  imaginative play!

If your goal is providing your child with an awesome kitchen to be used purely for imaginative play, this is a great choice! It has all the standard features and it is durable and should last through a few kids, or be able to be gifted or resold in pretty good condition.

Play kitchens and Practical Life

Many parents are of the mind (Montessori parents, specifically) that a children’s kitchen should be meant for actual cooking, aka, “practical life” skills. There is one kid’s kitchen in particular that is perfect for this! It’s the Ikea Duktig Mini-kitchen! (Sponsored Link) The neat thing about this kid’s kitchen, it can be left alone for imaginative play, left alone for actual use, or modified for either one!

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One of the most popular hacks I’ve seen with the Ikea Duktig Mini-kitchen is removing the play stove and replacing it with a cutting board.

Something else that makes this play kitchen so great is that you can actually hook it up to water, thereby making the sink functional!

In our house, we have left the kitchen alone so the kids can use their imaginations OR wash and chop vegetables. We use the “microwave” as storage for our cloth napkins and we use the cabinet space below the sink to store our child-size dishes and silverware. This helps give my kids a sense of autonomy when it comes to meal preparation. If they need a bowl for snacks, it’s right there where they can reach it. Glasses for water? Right there! It’s convenient for everyone!

A functional cabinet for kids

I’m totally in love with the ECR4Kids Cupboard! It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the Melissa and Doug kitchen or the awesome hack capabilities of the Ikea kitchen, but what it does have is simplicity and functionality!

Your kids can easily store child-size dishes and silverware in this Cupboard, as well as snacks and other mealtime items. I love how the surface of this “kitchen” is a blank slate. It’s ready for real meal preparation and all the imaginative play a child can dream up AND it’s ready for real-time tasks, like chopping, washing, and sorting!

ECR4Kids Colorful Essentials Kitchen Cupboard Playset for Kids Pretend Activity Time (Sponsored Link)

Whatever your goal is in purchasing a kitchen for your child, you are making a great choice. Kids are going to grow up to be adults, and adults have to cook. So, it’s a good idea to get their imaginative juices flowing with a quality kid’s kitchen!

Melissa and Doug Wooden Play Food Set (Sponsored Link)

And don’t forget the food! Please, especially if there is any imaginative play going on, which there likely will be!

What do you do when your kids are bored with their play kitchen? Believe it or not, there is another option from tossing or donating it!

My kids are bored with their play kitchen

This is the real magic of a play kitchen They can be repurposed for outside play. Google the term “mud kitchen” and prepare to have your mind blown! If you want to turn your child’s play kitchen into a mud kitchen, you don’t have go all-out and get fancy with it. Just put the kitchen and the pots and pans outside in close proximity to a water source and observe the wonderment!

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Photo by: Rob Briscoe

So, get your back mat ready, stack some towels by the door, and prepare yourself for summer months filled with mud pies and fun!

Do your kids enjoy play kitchens? If so, what kind do you have and what is its purpose (imaginative or functional)? I’m eager for feedback!

There are different thoughts on play kitchens. Montessori parents want them functional and traditional traditional want them fun. I’m curious as to how your kids play with their kitchens!

Cook on, and…

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Cheers!

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