The kitchen is the heart of the home. For young kids, toy kitchens playset are often the heart of the toy room. Chefing up some imaginary meals (sparkle pancakes, anyone?) on a mini stove — after, of course, rummaging through the tiny cabinets for the ideal pan and spatula and toggling the burner until the cooking surface is just right — is not only ideal for imaginary play but also a pretty good way to distract kids or help kids feel as though they’re contributing as you prepare actual human food. They’re also Play Therapist approved, as toys that mimic real life allow kids to be more a part of the grown-up world.
Of course, not all kitchen playsets are created equally. Some, painted in pastel, resemble kitchen sets of 70s-era apartments; others look like the type of setup you’d expect to see in Paris bistros where a helpful rat might puppeteer a bumbling chef to success. Then there are materials: some feature sturdy all-wood designs; others are made of more traditional plastic and easier to clean. And, much like a standard kitchen, there’s a pretty wide price-range depending on which model you choose. To help you decide which is best for your home, here are seven great toy kitchens for kids.
Kid Craft Retro Kitchen
The full-size fridge, stove, and oven of this throwback unit have working doors, knobs, and rounded tops and corners that are gentler on the inevitable bumped head. But, not to be stuck in the past there is a dishwasher. The two-piece modular layout enables you to incorporate it into most any set you might have and, as it has a small footprint, fit wherever. Made from wood and plastic, with a removable sink, it is easy to clean, durable, and comes in two colors, blue or pink. Suitable for kids three and up.
Step 2 Life Style Deluxe Kids Kitchen
The oven, dishwasher, microwave, and refrigerator of this set have a faux stainless steel finish; numerous cabinets with working doors are ideal for storing the 39-pieces accessory set (including plates, pots, and baskets) that comes with it. Another nice touch: realistic sounds and built-in lights let kids feel like they are in a real kitchen. Minus the screaming sous chef, of course. Suitable for kids two and up.
Pottery Barn Kids Chelsea Kitchen
This kitchen from Pottery Barn Kids is modeled off of one of the company’s most popular full-size kitchen designs. Crafted from solid wood and medium density fiberboard it looks great but also can take the abuse sure to be meted out upon it from little hands. It has an almost three-foot-tall refrigerator with two shelves, an oven with two (two burners!), and a large farmhouse-style sink with ample storage space underneath. All the hardware comes finished in light brass paint. One downside: accessories are not included. Suitable for kids three and up.
Little Tikes Cook ‘n Learn Smart Kitchen
Built from durable plastic, this toy kitchen comes equipped with 46 different accessories, a small garden, and a light-up stove. But the best aspect is this stove’s interactive parts: When a kid cuts with the knife, the set makes realistic cutting sounds; the skillet sizzles, the pot bubbles, and the garden, well, does its thing. This tech-enabled toque zone lets you sync a smart device, which then leads tiny chefs through recipes to cook, games to play, and music to listen to all the while teaching them about colors, shapes, and letters. As a parent all you have to do is choose between toddler or preschool settings, and off they go. Good for ages two and up.
Little Tikes Food Truck Playset
Want to harness your kid’s inner hipster? Park this food truck in the kitchen. This mobile food purveyor ships with a toy car so customers can drive up as well as tables and chairs to enjoy their fine cuisine. Behind the counter, kids have a fridge, microwave, soda fountain, and oven as well as a bell to ring when the customer’s meal is ready. On top of the truck, a reversible sign lets them change between serving ice crème or hot dogs and there’s also has a chalkboard on which to scrawl the day’s specials. The plastic set comes with 40 accessories and is suitable for kids two and older.
Hape Kitchen Playset
Consider this affordable set the toy kitchen equivalent of one you’d find in a micro-apartment. Ideal for smaller spaces, its constructed in a single cabinet and complete with a stovetop, oven, and sink to work with plus a large cupboard that can pull double duty as both a fridge. It comes with a set of cooking utensils that store nicely in the overhead shelf, two cooking pots, serving plates, and a set of salt and pepper shakers. It’s suitable for kids three and older and comes in two colors — purple or orange.
Kid Craft Grand Gourmet Kitchen
This L-shaped set packs a lot of features into a relatively small space. A fridge, freezer, and microwave sit on one side while the other side boasts a stove, oven, and washing machine. Every appliance has working doors and knobs. The fridge even has a “drink dispenser” (ohh la la!) and chalkboard to writes notes upon. Pots and pans can be hung on the hooks over the sink and other items will fit nicely into the dual storage areas. Just be prepared when you go to set it up; it will take a few hours to build. Suitable for kids 3 and over.