If you have a young toddler, you may be considering a toddler learning tower otherwise known as a kids kitchen helper, kitchen tower or Montessori stool. They can be an investment, which is why I went back and forth for a while if I should get one. Now that I have one, I wish I had gotten it sooner! Let’s go through the ins and outs of a learning tower, and decide if it’s right for your family. Lastly, decide which is best for you from all the options. Because there are lots of different types to choose from these days!
*Updated February 2020 by adding new options and taking away some that are no longer sold. There are even more great learning towers than when this post was originally published!
What is a toddler learning tower??
It’s a stool with rails around the top so your toddler won’t fall. It’s a safe way to have your blossoming baby at counter height. It gives them the independence to climb up and down like a stool does, but with parameters that keep them safe from falling off. They can help you cook, or just watch, play with a toy on the counter, finger paint, play with water at the sink, etc. etc.
Related Post: Cooking with Toddlers- Oatmeal Muffin Recipe
What are the benefits?
Independence, safety, confidence and skill development. My second son Ellis loves loves loves to “do dishes”, meaning he fills all the cups with water and dumps them out- over and over while also soaking the counters. 🙂 He is also really attached to being held or being involved. With my first son Miles, I could give him an independent activity on the floor or his play table while I cooked and he’d be good. My second on the other hand just can’t stand not being in the mix, rightfully so.
I decided to get one for the peace of mind it gave me. I could walk away for a second or be wrapped up in a recipe and not have to worry when my son was doing his masterful dish washing. 🙂 But who knows, maybe this is the start of a wonderful and helpful dish washing son. A mom can dream!
While I bought it for safety, it’s opened up a lot of other ways we can connect. Our kids do need lots of play. But they also need to learn about the real world and the things we do on a daily basis. Since a lot of time for many families is in the kitchen, it’s a perfect way to get them involved young. In this case, the work is the play! You don’t have to worry about how to keep your toddler entertained while you prepare meals. They can be right there with you.
Ideal Age for a Learning Tower?
Right when your son or daughter are confident walkers and can climb up a few steps. Or when your child turns 18 months. It is ideal between 18 months- 3 years old. My first son Miles is a little over 3 and 1/2. He recently became a little too big for it, but he easily uses the learning tower or a regular stool easily. My second son Ellis is 18 months and uses it almost everyday.
Which Toddler Learning Tower to Buy?
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You have so many options now for great toddler towers, that are a safe option for your little ones to help you in the kitchen. The level of confidence your toddler develops when they feel safe is extraordinary. Let’s look at your top choices so you can decide which would fit your family and space best.
The original and most popular learning tower by far. Lots of benefits including a few different colors to match your kitchen, height adjustable, can fit two kids, and you can buy adjustments to make it into an easel later. Cons are that it is large! And not collapsible. As a friend of mine put it, make sure you put rubber around the bottom to protect your toes after constantly running into it. This would matter if you are in a condo or have a small kitchen. If space is not an issue, there are lots of pros for this learning tower that will last for years to come. This one is usually $199 on Amazon.
A little smaller and collapsible, which cannot be done with the Little Partners Learning Tower. Which makes it a better kitchen helper for smaller spaces so you can store when not in use. Has a chalk and whiteboard already on it, making it also an interactive toy for your toddler. Height adjustable as well! Cons expressed by owners are that the quality can be questionable and only comes in white or natural. It may not hold up for as many years as advertised. $150-$200
Some criticism about the original Guidecraft kitchen helper are that adventurous toddlers use the shape cutouts to climb. This model solves that problem as the slats don’t create “steps” for them. All depends on your child’s personality and which you prefer. This one also has the darker wood stain which the original does not. $217
This is a newer learning tower model offered on Amazon, but it already has stellar reviews. It looks almost exactly to the one I bought on Etsy that is no longer available. It’s a great price, compared to the two original learning towers listed above. Does not take up too much space, as it’s about the same size of a regular stool. Comes in white, black or natural. You can paint the natural one if you desire a different color! $89 on Amazon
This helper tower has a very cool feature of also converting into a table for your little one! Called a “step’n’sit”, has 5 color options and clasps can be gold, brass or silver. Cons are you may have to wait a little long for this item because they are made to order. It’s also not height adjustable but the table feature gives it an extra feature for your little one to use. $147 on Etsy plus shipping.
This is a very cute classic toddler tower option. It is very customizable with lots of color choices or you can buy a natural finish to paint yourself. Looks like it uses the Ikea Bekvam stool as a base, is a bestseller and has excellent reviews. I almost got this one because I loved the aesthetic and craftsmanship. Cons are there is a little bit of assembly and the height is not adjustable. $66-$89 plus 50+ shipping costs on Etsy.
This is one of the best learning towers on Etsy. What sets this apart from the other Etsy learning towers and kitchen helpers is that the bar in the back comes out. This is great for when your child gets older. You can use it a lot longer than the traditional learning tower age range. There are different wood stains and paint color options, as well as the ability to laser engrave your child’s name- such a cute feature! $129-$215 depending on color choices and how many names you want to engrave.
What makes this learning tower unique is that it is not too much bigger than a class step stool. Unlike the others of this size, this one does have 3 different height adjustments. It also ships fully assembled and the top bar can be removed when your child grows out of it. Available unfinished or 6 different color stain options. $89-$144 depending on color stain, plus $45+ shipping costs.
DIY Learning Tower Projects
You know I like a good DIY project. And I think it took me so long to buy a learning tower because I kept going back to this post and thinking of undertaking this project. But decided that I am just not at the wood cutting/power drill level of DIY yet- maybe one day! If life wasn’t as hectic and I had a garage at the time, this could have been fun. Instructions are super simple and you can see that many have made their own learning tower from this tutorial and loved it. $20-$30 to complete.
Lastly, one more DIY project. If you’re up for a little extra DIY and want a toddler learning tower that looks more like the original learning tower, this post is for you. Again, very easy instructions but doesn’t use a stool as a base so the entire piece is custom.
If you are really wanting a learning tower and these all seem to be out of your price range, make sure to look on Craigslist or Facebook parent resell groups. They are great for resale!
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