When it comes to buying a children kitchen playset, what are the factors should you consider? Do you just go with appearance and pick the one that looks the cutest? Or should you look deeper and consider other factors like brand name, materials and features?
Below are some of the things you should think about before you put down your money on a play kitchen for your kid.
Some play kitchens are compact models. They are designed to be space efficient and ideal for those who live in an apartment or just want a set that fits into a small corner. The KidKraft Pink Wooden Kitchen and the Little Tikes Cupcake Kitchen are examples of compact kitchens. Apart from the traditional play kitchens, sets that feature grills are also usually on the small side and can easily fit into a tight space such as the Little Tikes Get Out n’ Grill Kitchen Set. Small kitchen playsets tend to have a width of about 20 to 24 inches.
Of course, there are also large kitchens like the KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen. These can be over 40 inches in width but they also tend to be much more expensive. Also, the bigger is the play kitchen, the harder it is to move it around. So, if you intend to move the kitchen into different areas of the house for your kid, then you will be better off with a smaller kitchen.
As mentioned, the bigger the kitchen is, the more expensive it would be. Also the brand name would also influence the pricing. For instance, a Step 2 play kitchen would definitely be more expensive than one from the American Plastic Toy.
Generally, you can get a reasonable quality kitchen playset for around $70 to $120 and they will come with the usual microwave, fridge, burner and oven. Compact kitchens can cost less but you would also have to make do with less features.
3) Wooden or Plastic
Wooden kitchen playsets would be heavier compared to plastics. They may also chip as most are made with MDF board or composite wood. However, they are less of an eye sore and can better match your home decor with their wooden color.
Om the other hand, plastic play kitchens like those by Little Tikes are usually more brightly colored and they will stick out visually as one big plastic structure in your home. But they can be cute with their detailing and generally, have more features built in such as sound effects and lighting. They also tend to be less expensive compared to wooden ones for kitchens of the same size.
4) Sound Effects
Some parents like to have sound effects for their kids’ play kitchen and think they contribute to the fun. These sounds usually include sizzling and boiling sounds although some would also extend to the microwave and phone. In contrast, other parents would prefer silent sets. They feel it is better to have no sound effects when it comes to imaginative play so that their kids can create their own when they play pretend.
Hence, it really depends on your own preference. However, just bear in mind that electronic toy sounds can be annoying at times and they also eat up batteries. The upside is you can always remove the batteries to stop the noises if you really have to. But at least, the choice is there whether to leave it on or off compared to settling for a playset that offers no sound effects at all.
5) Reconfiguration Option
Some children play kitchens now have a feature that allow them to be reconfigured to accommodate a growing toddler. The best example is the Little Tikes Cook N Grow Kitchen. When it is opened up, it has a lower counter height to make it suitable for a toddler. As your child grows, you can then reconfigure it into a more compact but taller structure.
This is one way to make your kitchen playset last beyond the toddler years. The other way is to look for playsets that allow for risers. The Little Tikes Super Chef Kitchen has legs provided to be attached to the base to make it higher for your kid when he has grown taller.
6) Ground To Counter Height
When we talk about size, we often think about the width because we need to see if it can fit the space that we have. But don’t forget to look for the height as well, particularly the ground to counter height. This is where the activity is with the burner and sink being a major play area. Hence, you need to see if your kid can reach it or if he is too tall for it that the toy becomes quickly outgrown.
Most play kitchens will have a ground to counter height of about 20 inches. The KidKraft Deluxe Let’s Cook Kitchen is slightly taller at closer to 2 feet and obviously, this is targeted at older kids rather than toddlers. On the other hand, their Toddler Kitchen has a counter height of only 18.5 inches. So, check out the height before you buy to avoid disappointment.
While you can get the KidKraft Vintage Kitchen in pink, nowadays, many kitchen playsets also have gender neutral colors to cater to both girls and boys. The Step 2 Lifestyle PartyTime Kitchen is a good example of a gender neutral play kitchen. Boys too like to play cook and having a pink kitchen just wouldn’t seem right for them.
So, if you are buying specifically for a girl, it may not matter so much if the kitchen comes in pink and other soft colors. But if you are thinking of passing down the playset to younger siblings down the road, having one with gender neutral colors may be a better option.
We hope this children play kitchen buying guide would be of assistance to you when you are deciding on a set for your kid. Whichever that you end up buying, let’s hope your kid will have great enjoyment out of it and there are no regrets. Good luck!