Last updated: August 5, 2021

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The play kitchen not only creates a distraction for children, but also allows them to learn various skills on their own. These include not only fine motor skills and creativity, but also a sense of responsibility and care for their own belongings. Play kitchens also avoid dangerous situations in the real kitchen and provide for shared family time in the miniature version.

With our big play kitchen guide, we want to help you find the perfect play kitchen for you and your children to create the best possible experience for your little ones. We have compared play kitchens with different functions to be able to present you with the respective advantages and disadvantages. We want to make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • Play kitchens enable children at a young age to experiment with cooking in a playful way and to take on personal responsibility. In addition, fine motor skills, creativity and the spirit of discovery are trained.
  • Play kitchens are mainly made of either wood or plastic. Depending on your preference, you can also choose between wide or high play kitchens. There are also kitchen units or play kitchens with a corner and seating area, depending on how much space is available.
  • Play kitchens vary in their equipment and functions, which allows individual adaptation to wishes and needs, such as age.

The Best Play Kitchen: Our Choices

There are lots of play kitchens to choose from. But not all of them are of high quality, so that they meet the high demands as children's toys. In the following, we have selected the best play kitchens to help you make your decision.

Play Kitchen: Buying and Evaluation Criteria

In the following section, we will show you which aspects play an important role in connection with the purchase of a play kitchen. These criteria enable you to compare the variety of play kitchens and include the following:

Adjustability

Of course, you may have asked yourself whether a play kitchen is a sensible investment, given that toddlers usually grow up quickly and may outgrow the play kitchen.

Many play kitchens are height-adjustable and thus "grow" with the children to a certain extent.

However, you should be aware that this is usually only about 10 to 15 cm.

Are you worried that the stability will suffer because of the height adjustment? No problem! There are enough manufacturers who also offer play kitchens that cannot be adjusted in height.

Possible uses

Generally, play kitchens are more suitable for indoors, as your child can play with them all year round. However, it is sometimes desired to use the play kitchen outdoors, which is of course also possible. The best thing to do is to look at the material.

Play kitchens made of plastic are best suited for outdoor activities, as they are water-repellent and will not be damaged by rain. If you want to use a wooden play kitchen outside, please note that it is varnished. This provides at least some protection against wind and weather.

Another important criterion in connection with the possibilities of use is the playability. Play kitchens can be used on one or both sides. If you have a large room available, you can use the double-sided version. Here, children have work surfaces at the front and at the back.

This play kitchen often comes in the shape of an "L", which corresponds to the term "with a corner". It is best to place this version in the middle of the room to allow access from all sides.

If you only have one wall to lean against, the one-sided version would be the best option for you. This variant is usually produced in the form of a simple kitchen unit.

Equipment / accessories

Depending on the manufacturer and brand, the play kitchens are equipped differently and come with different utensils. The standard equipment usually includes: a hob, a sink and an oven as well as often a microwave and an extractor bonnet.

With regard to the utensils included, it again depends on the manufacturer and what they offer. Usually, a set of cookware (pot, pan, spatula, ladle) is included, as well as play cutlery and dishes for eating for 2. Depending on how much money you want to invest in the play kitchen, there are no limits to your options. In the higher-priced segment, you can also find sets that include food, additional cups and mugs as well as salt and pepper shakers.

Functions

Some manufacturers add light and sound functions to the basic equipment to enhance the experience and learning effect of the play kitchen. Here, the knobs clack when moved or the cooker top lights up via LEDs. Of course, these are powered by batteries and are therefore completely safe! There are also special noodles that change colour when they come into contact with real water. These play kitchens are a little more costly, but allow for a realistic play kitchen experience for your kids.

Style

Often the play kitchen will match the surroundings in terms of colour and style. Especially if you don't want the play kitchen to necessarily stand out negatively or be distracting. That's why many manufacturers offer different designs and colours to give you as much variation as possible.

Whether country house style, retro design, vintage or modern, you can discover just about any variation in the play kitchens.

Of course, your own taste is the most important thing here. There is not much difference in price between the styles. It's all about personal preferences and what fits well in the children's room / environment.

If you want to buy your children a play kitchen, you essentially have even more variants to choose from, depending on the space available. In detail, this means that you have the choice between high and wide play kitchens. In addition to the wide play kitchens, you can also differentiate between a kitchen unit or one with a corner.

Play Kitchen: Frequently asked Questions and Answers

In the following section, we answer the most important questions about play kitchens. We have summarised the questions for you briefly and concisely so that you have a good overview of all the essential information.

Who is a play kitchen suitable for?

Play kitchens are a miniature form of a real-life kitchen for children. Both boys and girls can learn and train their fine motor skills by using a play kitchen.

Fine motor skills include turning the knobs on the cooker or turning the food in the pan. In addition, your children can also learn to share, for example when they cook together with their siblings or friends and eat the food together.

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Play kitchens are not only suitable for single children. Siblings can also let off steam together. (Image source: Michael Schwarzenberger / pixabay)

From an early age, your children can independently get to grips with various kitchen functions and learn, for example, what an oven is used for and what a microwave can do. They will also be introduced to the concept of washing up at an early age and can learn about the risks of using a cooker. Furthermore, you can easily teach your children valuable food-related lessons.

When is a play kitchen useful?

In principle, a play kitchen can already be considered from toddler age. The reason for this is that many manufacturers not only differentiate between different age groups, but also offer different sizes.

You also have to consider that some play kitchens already grow with the child, so that a play kitchen can ideally accompany your children for years.

A good guide is when your children can stand up freely or are already starting to walk. Of course, this time varies from child to child. Some can already stand at 9 to 10 months and soon start walking. Others may not be able to do so until they are 14 or even 17 months old, depending on their developmental progress.

As a parent, you can best judge when this time is and, if necessary, buy a play kitchen at a very young age and let your child discover it, at least under supervision.

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As soon as your child can stand without help, you can think about buying a play kitchen. (Image source: NeONBRAND / unsplash)

In the beginning, the little ones will mainly be busy removing and putting away the cupboards and carefully exploring the accessories. They will probably not start cooking until they are about 2.5 to 3 years old.

We would also like to draw your attention to the minimum age, which varies depending on the manufacturer. The minimum age serves to protect children in order to minimise possible dangers, such as the swallowing of small parts or other injuries caused by the play kitchen. Many manufacturers therefore recommend their play kitchens from 2 or 3 years of age.

What types of play kitchens are there?

The different types of play kitchens can best be distinguished according to the material. For the most popular play kitchens, you can choose between wood and plastic. We have summarised the most important advantages and disadvantages:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Play kitchen made of wood Durable, Stable, Sustainable, Natural, Aesthetic, High degree of realism Rather heavy, Quickly leads to small dents, Special agents often have to be used for cleaning
Play kitchen made of plastic Spatially flexible, Relatively light weight, Comparatively inexpensive, Easy to clean Plastic can be harmful to health, Exploitation of resources

Furthermore, some manufacturers use the material "MDF", which means "medium density fibreboard" and describes a certain type of wood processing. This type is characterised by its lightness and at the same time comparatively high stability.

What does a play kitchen cost?

You can find play kitchens in different price ranges. Firstly, the price depends on whether you buy the play kitchen used or new. And secondly, the price increases if the kitchen is of higher quality and better equipped or if more accessories are included. Basically, the price range is between 50 and 250 euros.

The high-priced play kitchens are made of wood and include special accessories such as a refrigerator with chalkboard, a real ceramic hob or a dishwasher in addition to the standard version. You can find such models starting at just under 150 euros. The low-priced play kitchens are mainly made of plastic and contain the standard equipment. They cost between 50 and 150 euros.

Type price range
Play kitchen made of wood approx. 150 to 250 euros
Play kitchen made of plastic approx. 50 to 150 euros

We have now looked a little further into the individual manufacturers and found out that Miele, Smoby and Chic 2000 are the cheaper options. The KidKraft brand is more in the upper price segment.

What are the alternatives to a play kitchen?

People often choose between a play kitchen and a shop. While play kitchens introduce your child to the world of cooking, a shop is primarily aimed at selling goods.

Of course, this also has its advantages, as your child becomes familiar with this concept at an early age and also has a first contact with numbers. However, it doesn't matter which alternative you choose, fun is definitely pre-programmed.

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In addition to the shop, you can also give your child a small toy cash register. (Image source: anncapictures / pixabay)

Another alternative, especially popular with boys, is a workbench. At first, this may not seem like a suitable alternative. However, it depends on what you want to achieve with the purchase. If it is important to you that your child learns skills such as dexterity and creativity, then you might as well buy a workbench.

Alternative Description
Shop A shop is a miniature shop for children. The little ones can use it to simulate shopping and selling and at the same time gain their first social and mathematical skills.
Workbench A workbench for children is a work table with small tools. Children can use the workbench for the first time to learn how to saw, polish and cut.

To find out which alternative your child would enjoy, you can simply observe him or her for a while. Does he or she like to help out in the kitchen and is interested in food? Or does he or she prefer to watch you "tinkering" in the workshop? These simple questions will help you make the right decision.

What is the best way to clean a play kitchen?

Depending on the material your play kitchen is made of, there are certain things you have to keep in mind when cleaning it. Basically, you should clean a wooden play kitchen more carefully. Plastic, on the other hand, is not so difficult to clean.

  • Before the first use: No matter whether you buy the play kitchen used or new, it is best to clean it thoroughly before the first use in both cases. We also recommend using disinfectant to give your child the best possible protection against any germs and viruses.
  • Daily cleaning: Everyday dirt can be easily removed with a wet or damp cloth. If a coarser cleaning is necessary, a little washing-up liquid can also be used. However, make sure that it is not too aggressive, as it can damage wooden play kitchens in particular. Plastic, on the other hand, is easier to clean and does not require as much care.
  • Cleaning in the dishwasher: In principle, plastic parts can be cleaned in the dishwasher. However, these should not be particularly sensitive parts or batteries. In addition, the manufacturer's operating instructions should be followed. We do not recommend cleaning wooden parts in the dishwasher.

Another thing we recommend is to clean together with your children. This teaches them at an early age that cleanliness is important. Not only for their personal well-being, but also to prevent germs and bacteria from growing. In addition, the little ones can take on responsibility as soon as possible and also learn how to clean properly. What's more, cleaning together is much more fun than slaving away alone.

DIY tips: How can I pimp / upgrade my play kitchen?

Instead of buying additional fruit, vegetables, pot holders and the like or ordering them as spare parts, you can also make these accessories yourself in various ways. This not only offers you the opportunity to save money, but also to give the play kitchen a personal touch. You can find many creative instructions on youtube.de. Below you will find a list of different DIY ideas:

  • Crochet / sew accessories: Especially fruits and vegetables can be crocheted well, as there are many different colours of yarn and wool.
  • Decorative spices in a small pot: Just as you embellish your real kitchen with basil, oregano, parsley and the like, you can also easily fill a small pot with cress or similar plants to enhance the play kitchen.
  • Hang up / stick on photos: Small photos in passport format or photo strips, which you can get from any photo booth, can embellish small refrigerators. If your play kitchen has a magnetic board, you can also attach the photos with magnets.

In addition to accessories, you can generally pimp the equipment of the play kitchen a little by building a table out of pallets and a plastic plate, for example, or by making a chair out of wood. Of course, you will need some manual skills and the necessary tools. You can find instructions on YouTube, among other places.

Conclusion

Play kitchens are produced in all kinds of shapes, colours and styles. There are also no limits to individuality and adaptation to one's own needs when it comes to equipment. Play kitchens are not only fun, but also impart valuable learning content. They are already suitable for toddlers and help to satisfy children's curiosity in a safe environment and minimise possible sources of danger in a real kitchen.

Play kitchens are made of wood and plastic. Those made of wood provide the necessary stability and durability, while play kitchens made of plastic are easy to clean and transport. If you want to keep your play kitchen for as long as possible, you can choose the version that grows with you.

Picture: 123rf / 76458682

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