Involving young children in cooking and meal preparation is a wonderful way to spend time together as a family. Measuring, stirring, and cooking are all tasks that present useful opportunities to teach simple math and science concepts. Meal preparation is also a great time to discuss nutrition and healthy eating. Cooking is a useful skill and when taught to children can be the start of a lifelong interest in food. But most kitchens weren’t built with little helpers in mind.
This is where a learning tower can be so useful. A learning tower gets young children up to counter height without the risks of falling you have with a chair or step stool. Children can confidently use their hands and focus on what they are doing without worrying about balance. It also keeps young children in one spot in the kitchen when you have heat on or sharp utensils they need to be kept away from. The more comfortable kids are in the kitchen, the better learning experience it will be.
Top Learning Tower Options for Families
Guidecraft Kitchen Helper
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Little Helper FunPod
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Jonti-Craft Up-N-Down Stairs
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The Growing Step Stool
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High Rise Step-Up
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Little Partners Learning Tower has all the features needed to help your young child feel confident helping in the kitchen. This learning tower fits flush against a counter to keep kitchen projects in easy reach of little arms and the adjustable height allows for years of usefulness. With a 500-pound weight limit, this learning tower has room for two children at a time, extra fun! Because I have two young daughters, having a tower with room for two is a must. If you want to invest in some additional accessories, you can also turn this learning tower into a theater, a lemonade stand or a dollhouse.
Ages: 18 months+
Guidecraft Kitchen Helper is a perfect choice for families that need a compact learning tower they can fold up and store when they are finished cooking. The Guidecraft Kitchen Helper has a childproof, compact fold for easy storage and children’s safety. As a mom of young children in an 1100 square foot home, having a learning tower I can fold up and get out of the way is important. This tower also has a broad platform and adjustable height allowing your toddler to be comfortable and safe while helping in the kitchen.
Ages: 24 months—6 years
Step-Up Kitchen Helper has a simple design that allows young children to easily climb up and down independently. Parents can adjust the height to allow their child the best view and access to the kitchen counter. The 200-pound weight limit and easy to climb steps mean this learning tower can double as a step stool for parents or older children when needed. I love a sturdy step stool for my own use in the kitchen and I love that this can serve that purpose as well as boosting my kids up to the counter to help out and learn.
Ages: 18 months+
Okeler Kids Kitchen Step Stool allows kids to safely reach kitchen counters and sinks independently. We all know how much kids love being able to do these things themselves! I know my older daughter does. This learning tower features an adjustable height that grows with young children allowing for years of use. The platform of this tower also acts as a seat for little ones that want to rest or eat a snack while parents work in the kitchen. At my house, we can always use extra seating for the little ones.
Ages: 1–5 years
Learning Tower Kitchen Helper is handmade to be a safe place for a young child to observe and work in the kitchen. This learning tower is constructed with child-safe lacquer and materials so there is no chemical residue or smell. Learning Tower Kitchen Helper is constructed with kids in mind and is sturdy enough to hold up to years of use. When I invest in a product like this, I like knowing it can stand up to years of use by my own kids and daycare kids.
Little Helper FunPod is the only learning tower that is completely enclosed. Parents can relax while cooking with their young child in the kitchen knowing they are safe in the FunPod and won’t be suddenly underfoot. As a parent, I worry about my kids running around when the stove is on or if I need to open the oven door. I love the FunPod’s complete enclosure for the safety it would provide in the kitchen. Kids will love being able to cook and wash dishes or do crafts at the kitchen counter from their fully enclosed Little Helper FunPod.
Ages: 1–6 years
Jonti-Craft Up-N-Down-Stairs allows kids to reach counters and sinks without adult assistance. The grab handles and skidproof steps make for safe and easy trips up and down the stairs. Kids will enjoy the independence of reaching the counter or sink height on their own. A great option for slightly older kids less in need of a fully enclosed tower to be secure. This tower would be perfect at my kitchen sink when my four year old wants to help with dishes or rinsing fruit and vegetables.
Ages: 1–6 years
The Growing Step Stool can be used in any room of the house. It is lightweight and easy to move around. The sturdy construction allows The Growing Step Stool to provide a step up for both children and adults. Kids can use it in the kitchen or bathroom to reach sinks or counters, while parents can use it to reach high shelves or the top of the refrigerator. I love that this stool is lightweight enough to use in the kitchen and then move to the bathroom for use at the hand washing sink. Living in a small house, I love items that are multi-functional.
High Rise Step-Up provides extra height for kids to reach kitchen counters, sinks, or other hard to reach places in the home. Hand holds and non-slip treads allow for safe independent steps up and down. The High Rise Step Up safely supports up to 125 pounds. This stool is a great options families seeking the height benefits of a learning tower at a more affordable price. Because the back is not enclosed, this may work best for slightly older children who may not need greater supervision.
What Is A Learning Tower?
A learning tower is a safety stool that places toddlers at the kitchen countertop level in a safe way.
Toddlers and young kids may feel excluded when the family is gathered around the kitchen counter, or the older kids are helping in the kitchen, and they can’t. They’re too short in reaching the countertop height comfortably. Then they scramble onto chairs and stools or make other plans that are often unsafe. Grabbing and trying to pull themselves onto a chair may result in the chair toppling, falling onto and injuring the child.
Learning towers prevent these kinds of mishaps while assisting the toddler to stand at countertop height safely. Learning towers are also called kitchen helpers, Montessori stools or kitchen towers.
What Makes Them Great For Toddlers?
- Toddlers can concentrate on ‘helping in the kitchen’ without needing to focus on balancing themselves on the seat or chair. Learning towers allow them to stand up while helping in the kitchen.
- It’s fun scrambling in and out of a learning tower; it’s like playing on a playground set in the backyard.
- Toddlers independently climb in and out without needing the assistance of an adult or waiting until it’s convenient for someone to pick them up.
- They aren’t left on the floor while everyone is ‘up there’ having fun. The adjustable platforms make it possible for toddlers to see what is going on and to join in the fellowship.
- The flexibility allows toddlers to help in meal preparation, washing dishes, and other chores that they usually wouldn’t have been able to.
- The freedom of movement strengthens the development of toddlers’ self-confidence. They learn to do things for themselves without shattering their confidence with a nasty fall.
- By being the counter height at such a young age, increases their opportunities to develop and strengthen motor and coordination skills.
- Kids imitate the adults in their lives. Having them table top height allows them to watch and learn responsibility in the kitchen.
- Learning towers create the opportunity for hands-on learning and for toddlers to participate in kitchen activities. Learning to do household chores when it still seems fun is an excellent way to change the viewpoint on duties when kids grow older.
What’s The Age Range?
Children from 18 months to about 3-6 years may benefit from learning towers. The maximum weight is about 500 pounds.
If the toddler can climb steps, then they are probably already scrambling up onto the kitchen chair and ready for a learning tower.
How Young is Too Young?
Kids develop differently and at their own pace. Children 10-12 months old and sturdy on their feet, will likely try to reach the kitchen counter by climbing onto chairs. A learning tower would be a safer alternative for them.
Babies who are still using a high-chair are too young and don’t need the use of a learning tower yet.
When Do They Outgrow Them?
Kids outgrow the kitchen helper when they are tall enough to sit on a chair or stool and be kitchen counter height.
Why Not Use A Stool Or Chair?
Safety and peace of mind are the two main reasons why parents would prefer a learning tower to a chair or stool.
A stool or chair may place your toddler on the right level, but why risk their safety? There’s probably not a household that a child hasn’t accidentally fallen backward; often from a chair or stool. A kitchen helper prevents that from happening.
The child can safely climb in and out without falling backward or having the chair topple over while they try to balance themselves. Inside the learning tower, the railings around the sides protect the child from losing their balance and falling sideways or backward.
Parents don’t have to hover over the toddler the whole time. They can continue with the cooking and kitchen chores with peace of mind that their child is happy and safe. The safety features prevent unnecessary and unintentionally accidents that may happen in that split second you look away to grab something from the fridge or focusing on the pot on the stove.
Have you come across any learning towers that are safe and suave for your kitchen helpers? Let us know!
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Hello Turkey Toe.