In this review, I will be looking at the 5 best kids play kitchens that will meet the needs of everyone! There are literally thousands of kids play kitchens on the market right now and trying to choose a good one can be quite daunting. We purchased our play kitchen for our daughter’s second birthday. She is now 9 and she still plays with it with her 7 year old brother on a regular basis. A play kitchen is well worth the investment and many are not all that expensive.
All kids play kitchens can be used to foster a child’s language development. The opportunities to build new vocabulary, in addition to many other skills, are endless with a play kitchen!
A play kitchen is my #1 recommended toy for language development and learning. If you were to only purchase one toy for your child, it should be a play kitchen!
The kitchens in this review will have different options from type of material used to space savers and more. I will also provide some suggestions for language development that can be incorporated into play activities with these kitchens at the end of the article, so make sure to check those out!
If you can’t find a kitchen that works for you, your child and your home out of these 5, make sure to read The 8 Best Toy Kitchen Sets Of 2017 Are Here!
5 Best Kids Play Kitchens
We have a Little Tikes play kitchen that seems to have been discontinued (it is close to 8 years old now). I came up with the 5 best play kitchens based on a certain need you may have. The ranking is in no particular order and the language opportunities will be the same with any kitchen you choose, therefore I will discuss those at the end of this post.
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- Little Tikes Super Chef Kitchen – Ideal for small spaces and budgets!
- KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen – Sleek, stylish and wooden!
- Little Tikes Ultimate Cook Kitchen – Ideal for a family of boys!
- Step 2 Lifestyle Deluxe Kitchen – The ultimate kitchen!
- Language and Learning Opportunities with Kids Play Kitchens
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The biggest selling point of this kitchen is that it can grow with your child as it has two height configurations. Ideally, you would purchase this play kitchen when your child is between 1-2 years old. Once they get closer to 3 you can reconfigure it to make it taller. Upon reconfiguration the kitchen will go from being wide and short to being tall and narrow, thus it will also save space as the child gets older. Take a look at the picture to see the two options.
This kitchen also comes with 26 accessories including food items such as a hot dogs and a hamburger (yes, I know, not exactly the healthiest choices, but there are many healthy options” accessories kits” you can purchase separately), plates, cutlery, pans, cups, etc. See the picture below for everything that is included.
This kitchen has some buttons that make sounds when pushed, such as water boiling on the stove or coffee brewing. The doors on the oven, microwave and refrigerator all open and close allowing for even greater pretend play options.
The chimney can be left off if height is a concern.
If you are planning on purchasing a play kitchen when your child is still under the age of 2, then the Little Tikes Cook N Grow kitchen is a great option!
Another great kids play kitchen is the Super Chef Kitchen by Little Tikes. If the space you are planning on putting a play kitchen is small, then this may be the kitchen for you (and your child). This kitchen is meant to be placed in a corner thus making it even better for saving some space. However, if a corner placement isn’t an option, you can set it up against any wall. It comes in 3 large pieces with an additional accessory pack containing: cups, plates, utensils, coffee pot and phone. There is no play food in this accessory pack, so this would have to be purchased separately.
If you want your child’s toys to fit in with your modern decor, then the KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen is for you. If you read my post The 5 Best Outdoor Playsets For Kids! you will know that I am a fan of KidKraft as we had one of the wooden play houses for our kids. I personally find that KidKraft products are built well for what they cost. Yes, there are some issues with screw holes not always matching up, but you are not paying for an extremely high end product.
Since this play kitchen is made of composite wood (and some molded plastic and metal) it will take longer to assemble than a plastic one will. There are many more pieces to put together. However the final product will look amazing in your home!
This kitchen looks very much like a real kitchen and features a fridge, dishwasher, oven and microwave with doors that open and close (although the oven and dishwasher doors open to the side rather than pulling down). There is a small chalk board on the freezer door as well as a cordless phone and paper towel holder.
Unfortunately this play kitchen does not come with an accessory pack, so this would need to be purchased separately. However, amazon has some great options. You can see them here.
Let me start off by saying that I am not one for promoting “boy toys” and “girl toys”. I think children should be encouraged to play with any toy they would like. However, due to societal pressures, boys, even at a young age, are taught that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. Kitchens, strollers and dolls are also often items that are labeled as “girls” toys. If you are a parent of boys and they don’t want to play with “girls” toys, then the Little Tikes Ultimate Cook Kitchen is for your family! As I will discuss below, play kitchens should be a staple in every household as it is one of the best toys to encourage play, imagination and language development.
The Little Tikes Ultimate Cook Kitchen is mostly blue and grey. It has electronic cooking sounds and comes with a 38 piece accessory pack, although the only food included is a hamburger and a hotdog. So you may want to look into purchasing some play food.
If you want your child to have it all and you want to really invest in a play kitchen then the Step 2 Lifestyle Deluxe Kitchen is for you! This kitchen even has an overhead light above the “window”. It comes with a 28 piece accessory pack that includes some healthy food options (fruits, veggies). It also has a cordless phone and there is even a cutlery rack in the dishwasher. This kitchen also makes electronic cooking sounds. There is lots of storage space as well! This kitchen will provide hours of fun and entertainment for both little and big kids.
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Language and Learning Opportunities with Kids Play Kitchens
The language and learning opportunities with kids play kitchens are pretty much endless. Let your imagination take you and your child wherever it may. I have broken down these language opportunities by age group.
12 months to 2 years
If you happen to get a play kitchen for your child while they are still young, they won’t use it to its fullest extent, but that is ok. It is actually one of the great things about play kitchens. It will probably be the toy you have for the longest amount of time.
Here are some ideas for interacting with your toddler at the play kitchen:
- focus on basic pretend play – stirring, shaking, cutting, washing, eating, drinking, pouring, etc.
- target early sounds/words and short phrases – eat (name of food), drink (name of liquid), stir, pour, cut, open (door), close (door), etc.
- label – state the names for some common items found in the kitchen while pointing them out to your child.
3 to 5+ years
This is a great age to get your children involved with a play kitchen! This is when children really start getting into pretend play. You will be amazed by the things that they come up with. The kitchen may become transformed into the kitchen on a space ship! Follow your child’s lead and expand on what they are already doing!
- use other props such as costumes to expand the pretend play experience
- encourage your children to make a menu to go along with restaurant play, thus working on their fine motor and spelling skills as well
- go “shopping” for groceries first and then bring them to the kitchen to prepare a meal
- set up a tea party and serve the dolls/stuffed animals or even each other
- ask and answer questions pertaining to the play
- talk about opposites – hot/cold, up/down, big/little, hard/soft, wet/dry, open/close, big/little, etc
- encourage new vocabulary – teach your child some kitchen related words they may not be familiar with (e.g. cutlery, utensils, cabinet, cutting board, whisk, etc)
Whenever anyone asks me what my Number One recommended toy that all children should have, I always say without a doubt “a pretend kitchen”!
As always, these are guidelines. If your child’s language and cognitive skills are at a different level than what is expected for their age, then read the section that applies to your child, regardless of age.
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Getting kids into the actual kitchen is also a great language building and learning opportunity. Check out 3 Fun Kitchen Activities For Kids! If your kids are already involved in the kitchen but you are afraid of them falling off of a chair make sure you read The Learning Tower Vs. The Kitchen Helper. These products were a lifesaver for my family!
I hope you enjoyed this post about the 5 best kids play kitchens and please let me know if you have any questions. If your child has a play kitchen let me know how much they love playing with it!