Last Updated on November 11, 2022 by admin
Here are just a few of the benefits of getting a play kitchen for your 2-year-old:
- they’re good for hours of play
- they’re used for years starting around age 2
- they come with an endless supply of imaginary coffee, pancakes, and whatever else you’d like, ma’am
Play kitchens are so popular that many, many companies have created their own models. You have plenty to choose from.
Before you look through the full list of play kitchens at the bottom of this post, though, here are some pointers.
How to Choose a Play Kitchen
Size / Width
This thing is basically a piece of furniture. You wouldn’t buy a couch or a chair without measuring for it first, so do yourself a favor and measure for this — especially if you don’t have a lot of room to spare, or you expect it to fit in your kitchen area so your kid can play alongside you.
Most play kitchens are designed height-wise for a wide range of kids. Width is the bigger issue.
You’ll generally choose from among plastic, wooden particle board / plywood and solid wood. There are even some pretty cool cardboard play kitchens — such as this one that you color yourself and can fold up and store. Another alternative: This little combo storage-box-and-mini-play-kitchen.
However, most of you are probably looking for a more traditional, sturdy play kitchen.
Solid wood is nice, of course, but a solid wood play kitchen typically costs over $300 — more than many of us are willing to spend. Plus, they can get pretty heavy, which is annoying if you plan to rotate it throughout your home.
The plastic play kitchens tend to come with more bells and whistles (light-up oven ranges, beeping microwaves), and are lower maintenance (typically pre-assembled and easy to move around).
However, I think it’s tough to beat the clean designs and the solid but lightweight build of the wooden particle-board play kitchens, which make up the majority of the play kitchens listed below.
Aesthetics and Design
Looking through some of these toys, I find myself wishing my own real-life kitchen looked as nice.
How much you’re willing to spend for a fancy, modern play kitchen probably depends on where you plan to put it.
Keep in mind that rotating toys’ locations is one of the best ways to renew your kids’ interest in them, so even if the kitchen will start out in your play room, you might eventually move it into their bedroom or the dining room.
Most play kitchens are designed to be stationed against a wall, but others are designed to be placed in a corner. Some are even designed to let kids make use of both sides of the kitchen, front and back, which is the best use of space.
Some of these play kitchens come pre-assembled, and others come in a box with a bunch of small parts that you have to put together yourself.
Generally, play kitchens come with choking hazard / small parts warnings, either because small parts could break off under stress or because the pre-assembled parts could be choked on.
You have to be careful. I almost didn’t even include play kitchens on this site because they essentially all come with choking hazard labels. However, I couldn’t just ignore them because parents are clearly still buying them for 2-year-olds and 2-year-olds love them — I see plenty of Amazon reviews confirming this.
Read the full post on the nuance of choking hazard warnings here.
Other than small parts, I’ve noticed that the heavier wooden models can pinch little fingers in cabinets. I’m also sure it’s quite possible for a little one trying to scale one of these heavy kitchens to pull it over onto themselves, so keep that in mind as you choose. Anchor any heavy, tippable play kitchen to the wall, just like you would do with furniture.
Accessories and Features
Some play kitchens come with a bunch of pretend food and cooking utensils. For others, you’ll have to purchase them separately.
I’ve found that kids will happily make lots completely imaginary food once they have the kitchen and perhaps a few plates, so don’t let a lack of accessories influence you too much. Play food or kitchen accessories make great gifts from other family members or friends who are looking for easy, smallish gift ideas.
As you’ll see below, some kitchens really go for it with a fridge, stove, microwave, sink, and storage, and other keep it simpler with just one or two of those items.
Keep an eye out for storage within the kitchen for the accessories you’ll probably end up with.