Wooden or Plastic Toy Kitchen
Wooden or Plastic Toy Kitchen – The choice between wood or plastic childrens kitchens is often the first decision a parent faces when looking for a pretend playset for their child. There are some significant differences between the two materials. Knowing the benefits – and negatives – of each can help you narrow down your choices based on your personal preferences and expectations.
First, while many play kitchens mention that they are made of wood, that wood is generally MDF (medium density fiberboard) which is a really compressed wood scraps held together with resins applied under heat. While it is similar to particle board in that it is not whole wood, it is also different from particle board.
Because MDF makes use of leftover wood scraps, it has some of the qualities of a “green” product but the resins used in the manufacturer of MDF and the laminates that might be applied to any finished products have some parents concerned about formaldehydes and chemicals. Those who have a known sensitivity to MDF should avoid childrens kitchens made from MDF and instead consider whole wood or plastic options.
Childrens kitchens made from real wood are harder to find and often much more expensive than the alternative products. However, these are often most sturdy and the most likely to last sufficiently to hand down to the next generation of children.
Plastic is the third material option available for cooking playsets and very popular because of its generally low cost, ability to hold up to tough play, and portability. There are a great number of plastic playsets available on the market. Some parents also have a concern about using plastic toys where the toy is manufactured under less restrictive regulations than are applied in the US and Europe. This is more important with children who are still in the stage where it is normal to mouth their toys.
Construction time is another consideration to keep in mind when selecting whether to get a wood or plastic childrens kitchen. Plastic play sets are usually easier to assemble while wood sets might take longer because of the use of traditional hinges and handles for doors, more pieces in general, and less self-latching sections.
Finally, the third deciding factor is the age of the children for whom the set is being purchased. Both types of materials are prone to abuse. Kids will try to sit on or lean against doors that are not meant to hold their weight and these doors might break off. On plastic sets, reattachment is generally pretty easy as the sets are often designed to snap apart. Wood kitchen sets, however, may break in such a way as to be impossible to reassemble. Older children are less likely to play rough with their pretend kitchen.
The choice between wood or plastic childrens kitchens boils down to a couple of points:
- Your personal concerns about MDF sensitivities
- Personal appetite for the different assembly times required
- Age of the children who will be playing with the kitchen set
Fortunately, whether you choose wood or plastic childrens kitchens, the choices are endless in either material and you are sure to find the perfect one for your home and family.
Childrens Kitchens Better Than Ever
Childrens kitchens are better than ever before! Options for size, material, and functionality provide one suitable for any sized home and for both girls and boys. They are more durable today even if many are made of plastic. The plastic is generally amazingly sturdy and allows for quick setup and greater portability.
When I was a kid, my brothers and sister and I shared a small kitchen playset made entirely of wood with a little refrigerator, an over, a sink, a small counter space and a cupboard. We used that thing until it literally fell to pieces. It sat against the wall in our playroom and we had a little set of plastic cookware and utensils that we stored in the oven along with a small bucket of plastic food items like fruit, a milk carton, an egg carton and some meat products.
Playing with that set up felt incredibly grown up and real. Sure, we knew the food wasn’t really food and the refrigerator wasn’t really going to keep anything cold. We never tried to cook real food in the oven and we never expected to actually eat anything we pretended to prepare. (I do think we had a draining sink, though, so we may have tried to wash dishes in the play kitchen.) It was simply the exercise of acting out being in a real kitchen that made us feel so special. Kids really want to do the things they see their parents do but some kitchen equipment isn’t safe for kids of all ages. This is where a pretend or play kitchen lets kids act out the tasks they see their parents performing daily on their behalf. It’s great practice for learning life skills.
Play is childrens work. This is how they learn skills like organization, taking care of their belongings, cleaning, sharing, communicating and problem solving. There are all kinds of playsets that mimic full size rooms, garages, or outdoor structures but childrens kitchens are particularly popular because they can be used indoors and out, can be found to fit even inside a small bedroom, are available with neat, modern features like microwaves and can even resemble popular fast food drive-thrus. Kids love to pretend they’re running the show at McDonald’s!
As I mentioned, the choices are endless and the model that your child might enjoy the most may not be available to you locally. To make it easier for you to compare playsets and find the childrens kitchens that your kids will get the most from, we’ve gathered reviews, ratings, and information on the most popular, most fun, kitchens available.
This site is a work in progress and we’ll keep adding to it as we find new products that fit the bill. We hope you find this a useful resource if you are in the market for a childrens kitchen for your own household.
Where to put a Childrens Play Kitchen
Puzzled about where to put a childrens play kitchen in your house? Make believe toys like these that mimic grown up activities don’t have to be relegated just to the play room.
Children like these sorts of activity toys because it allows them to imagine being responsible for grown-up work through play. There’s no doubt that kids love to copy their parents – sometimes to the point of embarrassment (but that’s another story). Providing them a play kitchen is a great way to develop important skills, expand their imaginations, and improve their understanding of daily tasks and chores.
A pretend kitchen for children is a great addition to any play area. These kinds of toys usually inspire collaboration and are perfect for joint play with siblings or friends.
However, there are other locations where these toys can offer an even stronger opportunity for you to connect with your child.
Place a childrens play kitchen in your own kitchen and you might find it is much easier to keep your child occupied and entertained while you tend to making dinner or cleaning up your own kitchen.
Whenever I was trying to tackle a household chore, I would find one or the other of my children trying to help in their own, sweet way. Often, their help was more a hindrance than a bonus – like the time my youngest thought he’d help out with my chores by washing my wood table with Windex (which is bad for wood, just so you know). His heart was in the right place but his approach was all wrong.
Give your children their own work space where they can copy what you’re doing and they get to feel as if they’re helping and are less likely to cause additional work for you in the process. Plus, it’s a great way for you to see your child’s imagination in action. You can also use the time to catch up on each other’s day, ask your child questions, or assess how well multiple children play together.
Other neat locations for a child’s pretend kitchen might be any area in your home where you spend a great deal of time and need a way to keep your child occupied. For instance, if you have a great craft room set up and spend time quilting or making clothes, it might be handy to have a play kitchen or other play set available where your child can stay entertained while you’re working but isn’t necessarily out of your site.
The same could be said of a garage or outdoor work area, your laundry room, a home office or the living room.
Sure, we want toys for our kids that are fun and creative and there are lots of play sets that meet that objective but those that subconsciously teach life skills at the same time have long term benefits.
How to Buy a Durable Play Kitchen for Children
Every parent wants to buy the most durable play kitchen for their children but it is easy to lose sight of that objective when faced with the overwhelming selection of play sets with cool features, bright colors, and unique designs. You can, however, get a great toy as well as a great value.
In order to ensure you get the most value for your money there are five things you should always check out when considering a kitchen play set for your child:
- If you can inspect in person:
- Shake the unit lightly to see how well the pieces hold together
- Check for even footing, no wobbling
- Look for clumsy gaps where the pieces connect
- Pull on doors and drawers to see how easily they pull all the way out or off
- If you can’t inspect in person:
- Read consumer reviews
- Check with your friends to see which brands or childrens kitchens they have and how they feel about their purchase
- Read the product manual online
- Zoom in on any pictures to look for the type of assembly used on the unit
- If wood or MDF, are there uncovered nail heads?
- Look for jagged edges particularly inside unit drawers and cupboards and on the back
- If plastic, are the connections self-locking or do they come undone easily
- Going with a popular, well-known brand is not required but does give you more comfort in knowing how well your piece is likely to hold up
- Look for the top brands and check their catalogue for all options
Look for reviews online and read them looking for repeat complaints or issues.
Compare the age of your child to age recommendations of the product – Look only at childrens kitchens that match the age range of your child. Buying a piece that is meant for younger children could mean your child outgrows the kitchen quickly. Buying a piece that is meant for an older age group might mean your child doesn’t get to play with all of the features that make the kitchen more fun or may be at risk of injuring themselves.
I’m not a brand snob, per se, but my husband and I have a rule in our house about movies that I think applies to buying toys for children, too. The rule is “If you have never heard of any of the main actors in the movie, don’t get it.” This rule was developed painfully over time because his choice in video rentals left something to be desired. He was always drawn to plots and ignored the rest of the factors that make for a good movie. I’m not saying that off-brand products (or movies with unknown actors) can’t possibly be good…I’m just saying that if you can’t physically inspect and test the product yourself before you buy and can’t find sufficient, reliable reviews to help you with your choice, then go with a play kitchen for children from a brand with a solid reputation.