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Best Play Kitchens
Updated on
January 4, 2024

Best Play Kitchens

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Best Play Kitchens.
Best Play Kitchens

There’s something magical about play kitchens that appeals to both kids and grown-ups alike. They’re a hub for encouraging creativity, fine motor skills, social skills, independent play and more. With lots of details to observe and working mechanisms to mess with, play kitchens can grab and hold a toddler’s interest better than a lot of other toys and are the perfect upgrade from a play gym or activity center when they’re old enough.

Your little one will cook up all kinds of meals and scenarios for hours of fun. They’ll be busy role playing what they see you doing in the real kitchen, even if that’s picking up the phone and ordering takeout sometimes. Trust us, the dolls and stuffed animals are going to be very well fed. (Now if only your tot could be this enthusiastic about eating broccoli in real life.)

Play kitchens have come a long way in the past 20-30 years, so to help you choose the best one for your little chef’s needs, here’s what to know:

Variety

You may remember seeing the same yellow plastic Little Tikes play kitchen in every one of your friends’ homes when you were growing up. But these days, just like playhouses, play kitchens vary widely in size, appearance, materials, options and cost. From compact table top options to mini gourmet kitchens, there’s a size of play kitchen to fit every space. And whether you want colorful or neutral, plastic or wood, battery-powered or tech-free, modern or retro, you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Investment

Play kitchens require a decent chunk of change and take up more floor space than the average toy, but it’s an investment that lasts for years. At first, your toddler may be perfectly content just banging on pots and pans. A few years later, they’ll be running a restaurant with their friends. Most kitchens are recommended for ages three and up, but one- and two-year-olds love getting in on the action too. A note on cost: Wooden play kitchens are likely to cost more than their plastic counterparts, and the more features that are included, the more you’ll pay.

Features

While every kitchen playset will come with at least one stove-top burner, there’s no end to the range of other features they can include nowadays. There are some real kitchen staples like refrigerators, ovens, sinks and microwaves, but there are also some extravagant bonuses like coffee machines, ice makers, ice cream servers and even pet food stations.

There are also battery-operated features, like lights, sounds and “working” appliances, including blenders that jostle food around and ice makers that dispense ice cubes.

The real challenge is balancing the amount of features with the amount of space they take up and the amount of money they cost.

Accessories

When it comes to play kitchen accessories, there’s always something new to add: fruits, veggies, pots and pans, cupcake sets, sandwich making kits and beyond (these are our favorite play food sets). On the flip side, there’s always something new to add. It’s easy to get carried away when equipping the kitchen. Have a good storage setup so you can quickly clean up at the end of the day to avoid stepping on a rogue soup ladle or wooden hamburger bun. For a money-saving option, keep empty boxes from granola bars, fruit snacks and mac & cheese from your real kitchen for new additions.

Play kitchens can also:

  • Help picky eaters work through food aversions
  • Boost learning about coloring, counting and more
  • Promote independence

That initial investment of money and space will pay off as your little one gains valuable skills (and you gain time to sit and have coffee while they play independently).

Here are some of our favorite play kitchens:

In Partnership With:
Tiny Land
Buy Now

Give your little one a chance to whip up 5-star meals in a luxe play kitchen with all the upgrades: stovetop, oven, microwave, a coffee maker, an ice maker and tons of storage for their chef essentials—all in a trendy cream and gold finish you’ll love, too.


Amylia Ryan

Associate Editor

Amylia Ryan is the Associate Editor at Babylist, specializing on the topics of health, wellness, lifestyle products and more. Combining nearly a decade of experience in writing and editing with a deep passion for helping people, her number one goal in her work is to ensure new parents feel supported and understood. She herself is a parent to two young children, who are more than willing to help product test endless toys, books, clothes, toiletries and more.


Rosie Colosi

Rosie Colosi writes books for curious kids and articles for parents who are counting the minutes until bedtime. Once upon a lifetime ago, she played Mrs. Claus in The Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes, but now she mostly focuses on singing songs from Annie to her two little girls.

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