Play kitchens are a great way to get young kids interested in cooking and food prep. They also give already interested and “helpful” toddlers and children a safe place to play instead of being in the real kitchen. For most families, they’re kind of a playroom staple, so here are the best play kitchens for kids so you can get yours.
Best Play Kitchens for Kids
As a parent of five, I’ve been through a few models in my house. I also know what to look for in terms of a play kitchen. Like, what features kids are going actually to appreciate? And does this fit in with my decor if it’s going to be somewhere other than a playroom?
Why kids need a play kitchen
Kids learn through play. If you want kids to take an interest in something like food and cooking, a play kitchen is a great way to foster that in a way that lets them explore safely. By having toys like this in the house, you’re also promoting healthy habits. What starts as playing in a toy kitchen turns into taking an interest in cooking and then becoming an adult who cooks dinner instead of orders take out every night.
It also is a great way to keep kids out of the way (and safe) when you’re cooking. For a while, I had our play kitchen next to the real kitchen, so I could keep an eye on the little ones easily.
What’s the best age for a play kitchen?
It really depends on the one you buy. Some play kitchens are designed to be safe for babies and grow with your child through the toddler and preschool years. Others are best for kids age three and up, or even older preschoolers and kindergarten age. Make sure you check the age recommendations on a play kitchen before picking it up.
Height is also significant to consider. Some play kitchens are very short, and older kids won’t get as much out of them. Likewise, some are very tall, and your younger preschoolers may not be able to reach all the shelves and accessories.
Should I buy a play kitchen for my son?
It should probably go without saying, but there’s no such thing as “boy” toys and “girl” toys. We’re in the 2020s; it’s time for those types of stereotypes to die out. What’s great about this trend of gender-neutral play is that there are plenty of “non-girly” play kitchens on the market to choose from. And if you need further convincing let me remind you that: 1. Many of the world’s best chefs are men and 2. Boys and men need to know how to cook too.
What I look for in a play kitchen
When choosing the perfect play kitchen for your kids, there are a few things to take into consideration. Here are a few things to look at:
- Is it well made and durable? (especially if you have multiple kids or they play rough)
- If it’s not going in the playroom, does it look nice? Do you want something that matches your decor?
- How much space do you have? (some play kitchens can be quite large!)
- The age and height of your kids (there are play kitchens that are better for toddlers and others better for preschoolers and school-aged kids)
- What features does the kitchen have? Are there specific cooking tasks you do a lot in your home the kids will want to emulate?
Little Tikes Kitchen & Restaurant
This play kitchen is great because you can buy it for a young toddler and let it grow with your child. It also has an ample space to play that’s perfect for multiple children; you can have someone “cooking” and someone “dining” at the play restaurant. Or expand it entirely for a larger play kitchen.
- Lots of space to play
- Fun kitchen accessories kids will love like a coffee maker and phone
- Includes food and dishes so you can play right out of the box
- Made from plastic, so it’s easy to clean and durable
- Everything gets stored inside the kitchen
- Assembly is a pain
- Bulky and doesn’t fit in with most décor
- Smaller in size (not made for older kids)
Best for: Toddlers and younger preschoolers, multiple children
USA Toyz Hape Play Kitchen for Toddlers
Hape is a popular premium wooden toy brand, so it makes sense to add their kitchen to this list. It’s small for a play kitchen, perfect if you have limited space. The modern design also means you won’t mind having it out in the open as much as bulky plastic kitchens.
- Made from wood instead of plastic
- Easy to assemble
- Adorable design will look great anywhere in your home
- Very small (might be too small for older kids)
- Realistically can only be used by one child at a time
- Only includes a very basic selection of accessories
Best for: Small spaces, 2-4-year-olds
Teamson Kids – Chelsea Modern Wooden Kids Play Kitchen
If you’re looking for a modern play kitchen that’s full of stylish accents, this is it. You could easily keep this in your main living area or kitchen, or add it to a decorated playroom for a stylish addition. The gold accents just make this set! Plus, the high-tech fridge with notepad and ice maker is a nice touch, especially if you have these in your “real” kitchen.
- Available in 6 colors
- Great “working” features like the ice maker that actually dispenses ice and the burner that makes “real” sounds
- Removable sink for easy cleaning
- Super cute design
- Not as durable as other play kitchen brands
- Doesn’t include a lot of accessories
- Takes longer to assemble than advertised
- Not safe for the under 3 crowd
Best for: Preschoolers, those who value style
Step 2 Best Chefs Kitchen Playset
This compact plastic play kitchen fits plenty of activities into a small amount of space. There’s a little bit of everything, so it’s easy for kids to emulate all kinds of “grown-up” kitchen activities like cooking, making coffee, and even recycling. Plus, it’s durable enough for toddlers to enjoy too.
- Perfect for toddlers
- Multiple kids can play at once with the pass-through window
- Has realistic lights and sounds
- Durable and easy to clean
- Comes with great accessories, but no food
- Might be tough to assemble, especially if you don’t have a drill
- Quite small, so not as good for taller kids
Best for: Toddlers, space-saving
KidKraft Vintage Kitchen
This super cute kitchen will look great in your kids’ playroom or anywhere else in your house, which is great for a toy. This one is white, but you can get these in a lot of fun retro colors, too. It’s durable for a wooden kitchen but unfortunately doesn’t come with any extra accessories.
- Great stylish design
- Long enough for multiple children to play together
- Lots of kids to do while it still being “simple.”
- No batteries required
- Assembly takes a long time
- Doesn’t include any food or cooking accessories
- Designed for ages 3+ but not very tall
Best for: A family with multiple children of different ages (so it can be passed down between siblings), retro design lovers
Melissa & Doug Wooden Chef’s Pretend Play Toy Kitchen
This is a super well designed wooden play kitchen. I love that it comes in multiple color options so you can fit your own or your child’s preferences. This kitchen also has lots of opportunities for learning and customization, perfect for your kids’ creativity.
- Sturdy kitchen that includes safety tools like wall anchors
- Easy to assemble with great instructions
- Stylish design you won’t mind having in your home
- Good for kids of multiple ages
- Only comes with basic accessories, no food or cooking utensils
- Not solid wood
- Difficult to move once assembled
Best for: Preschoolers and kindergarteners (ages 3-6)
Step-2 Grand Walk-in Kitchen
If you’re looking to get the biggest kitchen you can find, this is probably it. Part kitchen, part playhouse, it’s a great addition to the most amazing playroom ever. It’s designed so kids can access some areas from the inside and others from the outside, making it a great play kitchen for families with multiple kids or daycares.
- So many great features that kids will be able to play for hours
- Includes 103 accessories
- Plastic and durable; can handle play from multiple young kids
- Dining area opens up additional play ideas beyond cooking
- Very large; takes up a lot of space
- Takes a long time to set up and requires a drill
- Storage is good but could be better
Best for: Large families, daycares
So which out of “the best play kitchens for kids,” would I recommend? It’s a tough call. I’ve personally owned Step 2 brand play kitchens in the past, and they’ve been great and durable for the kids, but a total eyesore to have around. You just can’t beat the aesthetic of a wooden play kitchen, especially if it doesn’t make annoying sounds.
For that reason, I think the Melissa & Doug Wooden Chef’s Pretend Play Toy Kitchen is the way to go if you’re looking to buy an excellent play kitchen for your kids. There are a few reasons for that.
The main one is the high attention to quality, something that can be a challenge with wooden kitchens. Their brand is reputable, so I feel like it will continue to hold up to the wear and tear kids put on their toys.
I also love the modern design; it not only looks great, but it’s also designed to be functional. There are all kinds of little additions that add to your kids’ play, too, like the clipped on the shopping list (also a great learning tool) and the different settings on the stove. It’s also designed to work well with preschoolers and older kids, so you get a few years of use out of this compared to more compact kitchens.
Honestly, the biggest downside is that it doesn’t come with any accessories, but don’t let that deter you. Melissa and Doug’s brand also make all the pots, pans, dishes, and food you could possibly need, and they make great gift ideas for friends and relatives if you’re planning to buy this kitchen for your kids’ Christmas or birthday gift.
If you have space, though, the Step-2 Grand Walk-in Kitchen is a great runner up. Really, any of these best play kitchens for kids are great options depending on your family’s needs, style, and space.
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