Are you looking for a play kitchen set for your child?
I’m here to guide you in your search, as I have also been there and could’ve used the help. Kitchen toys are great ways to develop creativity, imagination but also teamwork, problem solving, independence and fine motor skills. They are also bringing your child one step closer to a healthier relationship with food.
There are a few things you should consider when searching for a pretend play kitchen:
This matters more than you think, as age is an important criterion for the height, materials and accessories’ dimensions. You don’t want to buy a set with small fragments for a 2-year-old. Considering the age of your child, you should pick an appropriate height of the kitchen set.
Most Kids kitchen playsets are made from either plastic or wood, the difference between the two being the price, the plastic ones are cheaper, however, the wooden ones prove to be more resistant.
Most children enjoy features such as lights and sounds, and it makes the kitchen set even more realistic. If you know that your child is inclined to play with a toy that makes sounds, choose something that meets their interests.
I am certain you want to pick something that matches nicely with the rest of the room. Luckily, there are plenty of models nowadays, from bright pink to neutral colors. For example, if the room is pink and girly, I would suggest this kid kitchen set, it also has a chalkboard that can be used for short recipes or even a shopping list. This way you can include your child in small household responsibilities from a young age.
Kitchens usually come with a number of play kitchen accessories, but you can always buy more afterwards. If you do so, try to check that you have enough room for them and that their size matches with the rest of the set. I found that accessories similar with the ones that I use in the real kitchen are highly appreciated.
You’ll find below many categories of kitchen playsets and some examples to help you better navigate through this search.
1. Play kitchen set for girl
It has such a lovely retro design that you’ll wish to redesign your own kitchen. I love the space under the sink, where they can store all their pots, plates and accessories, and it also has some extra room under the oven. The design is rather simple, but very pretty, and it matches a pink room perfectly. It doesn’t occupy much space and the fact that the refrigerator is separate can count as a benefit, because you can choose where to place it. The clock on top is a cute bonus, it can help your kid to learn how to read the clock.
This play kitchen for girls is also easy to blend in a pink room, the color looks great and welcoming. This set is a little bigger than the average ones, it has a really fancy sink, a refrigerator with ice dozer, an oven and still has a lot of storage space. The downside, if I can say so is that it doesn’t have accessories, but you can also find them in the suggested section quite easily.
A fine choice, a kitchen set in a neutral color, it has a refrigerator with an ice maker, an oven, a microwave oven and a kitchen hood. Other than looking realistic, its features include frying and boiling sounds and also lights, the stove turns red and the kitchen appliances have bright light, just like in a real kitchen.
2. Play kitchen with light and sounds
A bright colored kitchen set, with plenty of accessories and very realistic features. Something that stands out for this kitchen is the interactive stove surface with spray function, I can imagine how kids react to it, they certainly love it. Another great thing about it is that you can build it with your kids, like you’d be doing a STEM activity and the end result is a kitchen set that they can use for years on.
I like about this one that it’s 2-in-1, it can act both as a kitchen and a grill, has realistic sounds and lights and it’s easy to move around, indoor or outdoor. It also has some shelves with grocery products and prices, so your kid can use it as a grocery market play as well.
3. Play kitchen with running water
This one is not an entire kitchen set per se, but it has running water, so it will be way more appreciated by a kid. The stove has sounds and lights that are also engaging the kid in a realistic role play. Being small, it helps your kid to better organize their space and promotes household responsibilities by allowing them to practice how to do the dishes.
4. Play kitchen with washing machine
5. Play kitchen with fridge
This kitchen set is the right choice for you if you are looking for a lovely retro design to best suit your little girl’s room. It has plenty of storage room and a cute clock. I consider the refrigerator coming separately as being an advantage, you can place it where you want.
Though it is similar to the previous one, this one comes in a compact form and on a neutral color. It has nice retro features and plenty of storage space for the foods.
6. Play kitchen with ice maker
A modern design and very fancy, this play kitchen has an ice maker, a display on the refrigerator door and stove timers, which makes it a smart play kitchen. Kids will most certainly enjoy playing with it.
Great for both boys and girls, with a modern and neutral design, easy to wipe surface, this kitchen play comes with an ice maker and a few accessories.
7. Play kitchen with washer and dryer
The nice retro appearance and the warm pink make it suitable for a girl’s room. It is a slightly larger version of a kitchen toy, so make sure you get your measurements right.
8. Play kitchen with microwave
9. Play kitchen with food
10. Play kitchen for older kids
I find this kitchen set to be one of the best large kitchens sets I’ve seen. You can use it for a long term, as its height is suitable for both younger and older children. The soft pastel colors make it easy to blend in any room, boy or girl, and some of the features I appreciate are the presence of the freezer and the fact that it has a lot of storage room.
Such a realistic design, it’s like a real kitchen, but at a little scale. This one has a washer attached to it and as many families organize their kitchens to fit a washer, too, I think they’ll relate to this choice. The sounds and lights are very realistic, and the refrigerator is equipped with an ice dozer. The entire kitchen is both toddler and child friendly.
I find these options to be the best there are on the market, and I tried to put together a wide range, from cheaper options to more expensive ones, from plastic models to wooden ones, so you can choose whichever fits your child’s needs and preferences. However, I totally understand if you decide not to buy one, perhaps you find it too expensive or maybe you don’t like the designs. There is another way for you to go, you can do it yourself. Although it might seem complicated at first, don’t discourage yourself, because there are easy ways to do it. You can find options that are suitable for your skills, budget and materials that you have available for this project. There are also ideas for more complex projects, that include more work, but that are not impossible to achieve. You can make it into a nice STEM project of your own, and if your kid joins you in the process, it will be an enriching experience for both of you.
What are the benefits of pretend play kitchen?
I like to call the kitchen a developmental tool, as it helps tremendously in developing some of the most important areas in child’s development.
It gives the opportunity to grow socially and emotionally, when they are playing with siblings, or even alone, as it is a complex role play. For smaller children it is efficient in improving fine motor skills and their vocabulary as well, they can actively learn vegetables,
fruits, colors, kitchen items. Playing with it enhances a problem-solving mindset, because when a problem appears, they must find a solution (when the fruits don’t fit in the refrigerator, they can arrange them differently or choose a different place to store them).
As any role play, this one helps your child develop socially and emotionally, part of it because this can be well played with other children, but also because when being in one’s shoes, they can grow to be more empathetic. Whether you have a toddler, or an older child, playing with a kitchen will enhance their communication skills, because they will learn new words or how to verbalize their thoughts and wishes. Each role play comes with the great benefit of creating difficult situations that they need to adapt to and find solutions for. This particular part is the one that expands their thinking and helps their mental development. One of the reasons why I got my children a play kitchen is because I wanted them to have a healthy relationship with food and other than offering them a variety of foods to choose from, I find it very helpful to allow them to play with food, as well. That way, they can acquaint even better with the numerous choices they have, and you can even explain to them the nutritional value for each food, that way they will understand better the importance of food in their lives.
Unlike other toys, that are appropriate for a certain stage or age, this is a long term one. Your child can use if for many years, as it doesn’t have a limit for ideas or application. I also want to let you know that playing with a kitchen toy will help your child’s independence. Every time they can to do grown-up things on their own, their self-esteem increases, which leads to independent children. Role plays, in general are huge contributors to imaginative play, so this is a plus. One of the biggest advantages remains the fact that there are a lot of role plays your kid can try and that nowadays, play kitchen are a gender-neutral toy. We are no longer buying kitchen sets only for our little girls, our boys enjoy it equally, and that promotes gender equality in households. Helping the society to change old views regarding the roles in the household should be on every parent’s priority list, we all want a better world for our children.
What is the best age for a play kitchen?
Opinions may vary, I find it a great choice for children of ages between 2 and 12. Depending on your kid’s stage of development, you can start using food play as early as 6 months old, then gradually buy more until getting a play kitchen. I have watched my own children grow next to their play kitchens and improve their team play thanks to it. They still find the same amount of joy in playing with it as they did in the beginning, and we added more accessories when they felt the need for more. Their games have also developed into more detail-oriented ones.
Are play kitchens worth it?
Yes, they are a fountain of ideas and opportunities for your kid. As I’ve stated before, I believe they are great for various areas of development, and they are so much fun. You can see it a long-term investment, because they are to be used for many years, so I believe that it’s totally worth it. I have also tried to get toys that have a wider age range or that have developmental benefits for more than one age category. Partially because I have two children and I’m trying to adapt the toys to both their needs, but also because I find this to be more efficient and I don’t appreciate having too many toys in their rooms. The play kitchens can represent as I like to call it, a play corner with many uses, for a long-term period.
Is 5 too old for a play kitchen?
No, I found children as old as 12 to be enjoying this type of play, so 5 is clearly not too old. As a matter of fact, around 5 years old they start to have more complex role plays, because they begin to grasp more social notions and have a better understanding of the surrounding world and the different jobs and roles that people have. They have also developed to a certain cognitive level, so they no longer get frustrated easily, which makes role playing more entertaining. However, children are very different, so take into consideration your child’s interests. You can also try to expose him to a kitchen toy before buying one, there are stores where they can test play with it for a while, or maybe he has a friend who owns one already. That way, you can see if he likes it and decide what to do.
Is a play kitchen Montessori?
You can consider this type of play as Montessori if you take it as preparing the child for doing it in a real kitchen. You can even adapt their kitchen set to be purposeful, as the Montessori principle states, they can model even real food, wash their toy dishes with water.
You can choose from the wooden models and allow them to use some real foods in their games, and also gently let them practice in the real kitchen as they gain confidence.
How does a play kitchen help a child’s development?
It helps him gain self-esteem, to develop social skills, to enhance their motor skills, to spark their creativity and imagination, to discover empathy and tolerance towards others, to enlarge their problem-solving mindset and to expand their vocabulary. There are few the games or toys that can support so many developmental areas.
The aim was to shed some light on this subject, especially if you’re a first-time parent, because sometimes you may feel that the process of finding and buying a toy is like an initiation into parenthood. It can be a little overwhelming and you might find yourself trying to make the perfect choice. There’s no need to put a lot of pressure on this and I believe you should go with your instinct. You’re the person who knows your child best, so be confident that you will make the best decision, and even if the experience doesn’t meet your expectations, remember it’s still an experience and that’s what matters most, because you learned something through it.
Check some kitchen role play ideas:
Pretend play chef
This is the most popular role play idea, and I believe that all children enjoy it, even if they have a play kitchen or not, as they always find ways of playing pretend cooking. Some are doing it outdoors, with the sand and leaves, some use play dough, but if they have a kitchen play, the game becomes much more realistic and interesting.
Given this period we’re living in, the fact that we use to order food more often to support restaurants, I think they will find this play relatable to their everyday life. After they cook a meal, you can give them some small cardboard boxes to pack it up and deliver it to your house’s door. Bet they’ll love to ring the bell.
Wash and cut the vegetables/fruits (suitable for toddlers)
If you have a toddler that doesn’t quite comprehend the idea of role play just yet, don’t worry, this is an idea of role play, but a very easy one. You can show him how to wash and cut the vegetables in the real kitchen and then he can pretend to be you. Their parent is always their first pretend to be person, anyways.
Kids enjoy competition, especially older children, they need it and they already learned how to manage failure and frustration, but competition is something that helps their development tremendously. The rules can be set according to your kids ages, as they’re older, the game can become more and more complex. For instance, you can use a timer and explain to them that the fastest cook wins. Or you can evaluate their food based on its looks only, whoever arranged their food in the nicest way, wins. In this game you can be the judge, or even better, if there are at least 3 children, one of them can play the role of a judge.
Cleaning and organizing the kitchen
Kitchen role play is great, we already established that. But every once in a while, it needs some cleaning and organizing. I recommend not rushing and doing it by yourself. Children enjoy cleaning stuff more than you can imagine. Give them the opportunity to do it.