Toddlers and preschoolers learn through play and are drawn to activities that mimic the adult world. Toy kitchen sets, pretend food, and cookware is perfect educational playthings for children ranging from infants to elementary age.
Look for children’s cooking toys that are lightweight and kid-sized, with no sharp edges. Plastic and metal pots, pans, plates, and utensils are popular items in toy aisles, as are wooden and plastic fruits, vegetables, and pretend pantry staples.
Find the following kitchen sets and toys, pretend cookware, and plastic and wooden food at online retailers.
A Wealth of Options at PlayKitchens.com
True to its name, PlayKitchens.com sells a wide variety of kitchen playsets and accessories in different styles, materials, and price ranges. One adorable, eco-friendly all-wood play kitchen is the Educo My First Kitchen set. At about 17 inches high, this pint-sized kitchen sits on a table or countertop and features a realistic oven and range top with turning knobs. Also included are wooden pots, pans, utensils, and pretend food. Price: $69.99. Shipping varies (PlayKitchens.com also offers periodic free shipping offers).
Red Retro Kitchen at Pottery Barn Kids
The three-piece Red Retro Kitchen Collection at Potterybarnkids.com, pictured below, is a stylish return to 1950s-era cooking. The fire-engine red icebox, stove, and sink are made of MDF with plastic and metal details. Purchase as a set or as separate pieces. Price: from $249 to $699. Shipping varies.
Party Time Plastic Play Kitchen from Target
Elaborate and detailed, this plastic play kitchen from Target.com (see photo below) includes not only an oven, a stove, and microwave, but also a telephone, clock, over head light, and 33-piece accessory set. Dimensions: 43.5 high by 39.5 inches wide by 17 inches deep. Recommended for ages 2 and up. Price: $169.99. Shipping varies.
Soft Food Toys from Oliebollen.com
German toy company HABA creates ingenious playthings for little ones, such as the Biofina Cloth Sandwich Set, available at Oliebollen.com. Two slices of magnetic bread hold together four slices each of lunchmeat and cheese, a slice of tomato, and a lettuce leaf. Appropriate for ages 3 and up. Price: $14. Shipping varies with UPS.
Sliceable Toy Plastic Food from Oriental Trading
Kids can chop up a storm with this Just Slice It! Play Food Set from Oriental Trading. The assorted fruits and vegetables are divided into two or three parts that attach with hook-and-loop closures. A plastic knife and cutting board accompany the set. Price: $14.99. Shipping starts at $6.99.
As always, when choosing a play kitchen set follow manufacturers’ age recommendations and pay attention to small items that may present a choking hazard.
Kid-sized pretend kitchens and play food have a magnetic pull on children. While youngsters “playhouse” in their mini kitchens, they improve their fine motor skills (slicing plastic fruits and vegetables), tune into social interaction cues (serving Mom and Dad pretend dinners), and develop organizational skills (putting away dishes and silverware).
And they also have a lot of fun.