Grace’s favorite toy these days, aside from her mountains of books, is her play kitchen that inspired this series. It’s my favorite, too.
I bought her a play kitchen for a number of reasons, including that it would encourage her imagination, allow her to mimic Momma and Daddy, help her to see daily chores in a fun way, and encourage her self confidence and self esteem.
If you want to get a play kitchen for your kids, you’ll have to make a few decisions.
What sort of play kitchen do you want?
Play kitchens range from very small and simple to very large and elaborate. Ours is in between.
A very small kitchen will be quickly discarded by a busy preschooler, but a large one might overwhelm a younger toddler. You have to know your child and your budget. It also goes without saying that kitchens with more features are generally more expensive.
A third option is to get a kitchen that is relatively small to start with, but has additional elements that can be added later.
What materials should the kitchen be made from?
Most play kitchens are either wood or plastic. Both have advantages. Wood kitchens are sturdy and durable for many years. They’re less likely to fade, warp, or crack over time. They may be harder to put together, though, and being more sturdy also means being heavier and harder to move.
Plastic kitchens are typically easier to clean, smaller, and lighter. Depending on where you’ll keep it, a plastic kitchen could be a tip-over hazard. In my experience, the nice plastic kitchens cost more expensive than the nice wooden kitchens.
Where are you going to put the kitchen in your home?
This is an important factor. The kitchen we purchased for Grace is four feet long, four feet tall, and about two feet deep. There aren’t a lot of areas in our home that can accommodate such a large toy.
Secondly, you probably want to choose a kitchen that matches (or at least doesn’t clash with) the decor in the room where it will reside. Kitchens come in all sorts of colors, shapes, and patterns, so you should be able to find something that you’re happy with.
How big is your child?
If your child is very small or very young, she might not be able to reach the counter on a larger kitchen. Some kitchens also have small parts that may come off and pose a choking hazard for a younger child.
Our kitchen is a nice size for Grace, but it has shelves, a microwave, and a freezer higher up than she can reach. That was okay with me, as I wanted a toy she would grow into. For now, I bought a stool so that she can reach up to the top. If that bothers you, you might consider getting a kitchen that is small enough so that your child can play with all of the cool stuff now.
How long are you going to keep the kitchen?
If your play kitchen is going to hang around for a year or two and then head off to a new home, there’s probably no need for a large, heavy, elaborate kitchen. On the other hand, if you intend to keep the kitchen for five or six years or more, you should get a sturdy wooden one that isn’t going to fade or crack with time.
What accessories will you want?
There are more play kitchen accessories than you could ever imagine. Play food, pots and pans, small appliances, bakeware, aprons, kitchen towels, utensils, and on and on and on. I’ll talk more about accessories next week, and then more about organizing all those accessories in two weeks.
And please remember – play kitchens are not just for girls. Boys like them, too.
© 2009 – 2013, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.