Which Toy Kitchen Is Best?
Which Toy Kitchen Is Best?
What is the best toy kitchen?
With so many play kitchens out there, choosing which one is best can be as tricky as choosing an actual kitchen for your home. And in fact, it seems to come with many of the same considerations.
While there are obviously great and not so great toy kitchens to choose from, which one is best depends on lots of factors and so will vary from person to person. Here we look at how to narrow down which play kitchens might suit your budding chef best.
Here are a few questions to ask before you embark on a search for the best play kitchens:
Budget: How much do you have to spend? Play kitchens can range in price from less than £20 if you buy second hand to well over £100. Think about how much you want to spend including accessories before you start your search. While considering your budget, do remember that safety comes first! You want to ensure that the play kitchen you choose has been properly safety tested, uses non toxic paint and is fit for purpose- some of the cheaper options in particular might not meet these standards. Be careful where you shop for your play kitchen!
Space: How much space do you have? You can get amazing play kitchens that are huge or super compact table top versions so have a think about where you are planning to keep your play kitchen before you start shopping and measure the space so you know what you are looking for.
Material: Wood or Plastic? We love a wooden toy kitchen. They are more environmentally friendly and tend to look nicer plus they tend to be higher quality and are easier to fix if anything does get broken. However a plastic play kitchen will tend to be lighter and (providing they don't have any batteries or electrics) can be used outside for water play.
The Age of your child: Look at the age range the kitchen is recommended for. Play kitchens for younger children tend to have a lower counter height which an older child may quickly grow out of. For very young children you might prefer a mini kitchen rather than a full sized play kitchen, but keep in mind that you won't get the same longevity of use.
Choosing the best toy Kitchen
Once you have figured out where you are going to put the thing and whether you want a wooden or plastic toy kitchen it's time to start browsing.
When considering your budget it's worth thinking about the accessories you are going to need as well. While many of these sets can be bought over time you will probably want a few bits so your child can start playing straight away.
While many play kitchens come with accessories like pans and utensils some do not, so always check the description to find out what's in the box. And most toy kitchens don't come with much in the way of play food so you'll probably want to factor this into your budget.
Do consider storage- you may not want a kitchen that takes too much space, but keep in mind that cupboard space in your kitchen doubles up as storage! If you're placing the toy kitchen in your child's bedroom, it makes for easier tidying up if all the accessories can be packed away inside the kitchen, rather than having to find a place for everything. You can even use the worktop space to store their play coffee pot, cordless phone or toaster, inviting more play tomorrow!
You'll find that different play kitchens will have little features that will enhance the play experiences for little girls and boys; in plastic kitchens it may be realistic cooking sounds or illuminating hob rings, while in wooden kitchens it may be a clock with moveable hands, clicking knobs salt and pepper shakers or a removable sink that can be used for some light water play.
Think about the kind of features your child may value- the best toy kitchens will have been tested with child testers to ensure amazing play value.
Choosing the best toy kitchen accessories
If you think that the choice in toy kitchens is overwhelming, the selection of extra accessories, play food sets and optional add-ons is even bigger! Not only do these extra bits add a world of role play fun, but they can help your child improve their communication skills and fine motor skills.
Pots and pans are one of the most popular accessories we stock; a set of toy stainless steel pots and frying pan can be realistic details that bring the play kitchen to life for your child. Other options include an espresso machine, washing machine, toaster, baking mixer and kettle. Try to pick items that you have at home- nothing will spark your child's imagination more than making a coffee at their play coffee maker just like dad does every morning!
Budding chefs will absolutely love playing with just about any play food imaginable; from everyday favourites like fruit, veg and toast to sushi, fish and chips and charcuterie baskets. Children particularly love our cutting food set; these will feature a wooden knife along with food that sticks together with velcro. Our wooden cutting fruit and wooden cutting veg are most popular and feature chopping boards- little chefs get a very satisfying and realistic cutting sound chopping these!
Plastic Kitchen Vs Wooden Kitchen
One of the biggest dilemmas parents have when deciding whether they should buy a wooden or plastic kitchen is whether or not their child will enjoy a wooden kitchen without the lights and cooking sounds that a plastic kitchen can offer.
The best toy kitchens will spark imaginative play, and this doesn't always come with the touch of a button. When left to it, you'll find that little ones fare very well on their own, disappearing in to their own little worlds- sometimes they just make the noises themselves!
There's no doubt that plastic kitchens do offer some benefits though- the main one being that they can often withstand water play where wooden play kitchens can't. If this is a big factor for your child, you could try researching the best outdoor toy kitchen. Our Tidlo Country Play Kitchen features a plastic removeable sink, so, while water play is not recommended generally, with very careful use and care, you could add a little water in there from time to time.
There's no denying that we are biased towards a wooden kitchen- the benefits of wooden toys over "fast" toys are just so very evident. Our customers also tell us that they pass wooden toys on to siblings, they often last for decades and stand the test of time much better than plastic toys. Overall, this represents much more value for money, even if the initial cost may be higher.
Best Wooden Toy Kitchen
Our most popular toy kitchen by far is the Tidlo Country Toy Kitchen. It's made with durable wood, so is exceptionally high quality, a great size and has all the great features your little one could need for hours of pretend play. This fantastic play kitchen has a higher work surface making it great for years of play, clicking dials that kids love, and comes with oven glove, tea towel, three utensils, a salt and pepper shaker and a belfast sink featuring removable plastic sink bowl. The vintage style means it looks great anywhere in your home.
The larger size of this wooden play kitchen means its great if you have more than one child; this classic play kitchen appeals to young children as young as a year old but older kids too. You'll find that younger children will enjoy the interactive features, such as the opening door of the cupboard, clicking oven knobs and the hot and cold taps, while older children will delve more in to imaginative play.
Multiple children can play alongside each other at the same time, one perhaps washing the dishes while the other cooks on the hob rings. The pretend play options are endless! This kitchen simply has so many interactive features that keep a child entertained for hours on end, so it's no surprise that time and time again parents rate it as the best toy kitchen.
The Tidlo Country Play Kitchen was always a firm favourite in our shop, with child testers- ie customers!- running straight to it, time and time again. It's made from fsc certified wood, and we found that even with heavy daily play, this play kitchen showed little to no wear at all.
Interestingly, we found that our child testers seemed to really value the little extra features, like playing with the clock hands, pepper shakers and clicking knobs. Pots and Pans were the most popular accessories, especially the metal pots and pans. The best toy kitchens will have been well thought out to include fun features like these, that children truly value.
Our team used to find great amusement tidying at the end of the day, you could often find an interesting concoction of play food in the frying pan!
Our best compact toy kitchen
If space is an issue we love the Tender Leaf Toys pop up play kitchen. This little wonder of mini kitchen has most of the features you would get in a larger play kitchen but packs neatly away for storage. It's light enough for kids to carry and is perfect for taking on holiday.
It also comes with everything you need to get started including a fried egg so your little one can get cooking from day one. It's a great way to enjoy the benefits of a wooden kitchen without having to sacrifice space.
Once you have chosen the perfect toy kitchen and stocked it with goodies the next thing you have to worry about is keeping it clean. Check out our top tips for cleaning wooden toy kitchens here.
The best toy kitchen for boys
Make no mistake, we believe that toys are toys and that there is no such thing as "boys toys" and " girls toys". Keep in mind that the majority of professional chefs- upwards of 70%- are male. We absolutely advise our customers that they should purchase the kitchen that their child will like best, regardless of the colour or anything else.
At Baba Me we are strong believers in the value of play; play is how our children develop social, communication and imaginative skills, as well as fine motor skills and learning about colour, numbers and more. Children love to mimic their parents, so it's no surprise that toy kitchens come out tops- children love to re-enact mummy making the tea, daddy preparing dinner and the morning toast they have daily. This is entirely natural and not restricted to girls. Boys deserve all the same learning opportunities and pretend play fun as girls do!
We recognise, however, that society really does push out strong messages about colours and designs that are "girly". If you know that your little boy won't want to play with a pink toy kitchen, then there isn't much sense getting him one!
Once again, our Tidlo Country Play Kitchen in blue comes out top in this category- featuring a very understated, simple design and coloured in blue, this kitchen is most popular amongst parents looking for a play kitchen that's unisex or for boys.
On the other side of the coin, we have a pink play kitchen- the same Tidlo country play kitchen but in pink- for those that can't get enough of the colour pink! We added this option to our range in the past few years after a great deal of demand from our customers.
How to choose a toy kitchen: The Bottom Line
Our best tip- above all else, pick the toy kitchen that your child will love! There can be a lot of pressure placed upon parents about what children should and should not be interested in, but your child will learn best playing with toys they really enjoy.
You won't be long figuring out which features or accessories appeal to your little one if you watch your child in play group, their friends house or at your local soft play, if they have a play kitchen. Start our with food sets reflecting your child's favourite foods and accessories that reflect your daily routines, eg the toaster and kettle that are firm features at breakfast time in your home.
Your child will be bringing you (pretend, unfortunately) tea and biscuits in no time!