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Looking for sturdy, wood play kitchen

Nov 2012

Hi everyone, I'm in the hunt for a play kitchen for my almost 2-year old daughter. There is an abundance of options out there, and the reviews online are mixed, so I'm looking to hear of options that parents have really liked (or disliked). We want something that is:
- made of wood
- sturdy and made to last (at least a couple years of toddler play)
- fairly neutral - not super bright or all pastel colors
- affordable/reasonable for what you get ($200-$350)
- mid-sized (3-5 feet wide or so)
Thanks in advance! Anon


We bought the Kidcraft Wooden Kitchen 6 years ago when my son was small. It is the best toy we have ever bought, hands down. Not only is it well-put together an solid, its designed nicely so 2 kids can play at it at the same time. It survived daily use by my son from the ages of 1.5-5 (no kidding - daily use) and has been used by his sister daily for the better part of the last 2 years. http://www.kidkraft.com/toys-and-playsets/kitchens/kitchens/53115 genevieve
We were lucky enough to have a KidKraft-brand 'vintage kitchen' setup handed down to us, and it has been awesome. Ours is red, but they also make them in white and pink. It has lots of cabinets/shelves for storage, knobs for turning, and a phone (so much for being 'vintage') that my son has had many conversations on. It survived 2 children before it got to us and is still in GREAT shape. The price for a new one is totally reasonable - I almost had a heart attack when we saw the price for the Pottery Barn Kids one, which is very similar. Have fun! http://www.amazon.com/KidKraft-53173-Red-Retro-Kitchen/dp/B0030HBVG2/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1351794810&sr=8-7&keywords=kidkraft+kitchen Cara
We are the third family to inherit our Plan Toys Kitchen. Ours is unpainted wood, and I can't find anything quite like it online, but that was important to us. Here's a link to something similar: http://www.amazon.com/Plan-Toys-0344000-Kitchen- Center/dp/B000FZP0ZK/ref=sr_1_7?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1352433644&sr=1-7&keywords=plan+toys+kitchen Call Plan Toys and request a catalog. Just wanted to make sure you had at least two choices. Local Librarian

Train Table or Play Kitchen?

Sept 2008

My daughter is almost 2 and we would like to get her a toy that will last and grow with her. We were considering getting either a train table or a play kitchen. We don't have the space for both so which one in your experience will hold her interest longer? She always looks forward to playing with train tables at stores and seemed equally interested in the play kitchen at her grandparents house who we see only a couple of times a year since they live on the East Coast. toy help


Play kitchens can be easily improvised, and (in our experience) were just as much enjoyed as the ''real thing.'' Train tables are great because they make it more comfortable to reach and move the trains around (as opposed to laying out temporary tracks on the floor), so the kid will usually stay at it longer. In either case, however, be prepared for the kitchen or the trains to be largely ignored for the majority of the time! :-) These toys never seem to be as compelling in one's own home as they are somewhere else - that's a huge part of the attraction. anon
My daughter is a little over 2 and has a small train table and a small figure 8 style train set (not a big table). She LOVES them both. I would hate to choose. She is probably more emotionally attached to the train (she loves Thomas) but gets more pretend play enjoyment out of the kitchen. I know you say you don't have enough room for both, but maybe you could get a small kitchen (we have the French Kitchen by Educo) and a small train set that could be put away in a box when done. That way you can see which ones she likes better before investing in anything too big. Both can be expanded upon over time as she expresses an interest. But if I had to choose I would do the kitchen because of the imaginative play options. - Mine cooks food for Thomas
I would go for the play kitchen. Train tables are not really all that great to own-- sure they're nice in other places, but when your child really wants to build cool stuff with the train tracks and such, the table is just too limiting. It is way better to build trains on the floor where you can have the track be as big or little as you'd like, and not have to fit in a rectangle. My kids LOVE trains, and still play with them, but I'm glad we never got a table... We also have a tiny play kitchen (a little sink and a little stove) that they love... if I were to get it over again, we'd go for this one: http://www.bellalunatoys.com/houseplay/items/playkitchens/squirrelkitchen.htm Ours is very simple and can be packed away in the closet when we want to mix it up. But it is well worth it! We got our small play kitchen from http://www.atoygarden.com/index.cfm? fuseaction=category.display&category_ID=80 but I don't know if they carry it anymore. :) happy mama
You might consider something like Melissa & Doug's activity table. http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Deluxe-Wooden-Multi-Activity/dp/B000IMQ40U It's great for trains, but when trains get boring the table can be used for play-doh, or art, or even kitchen play....and it keeps all that stuff off the floor! We have a very small play kitchen and this table, and if I had to choose one, the table would win!
My daughters, ages 6 and 8, still use our play kitchen pretty regularly. We got it when the older one was 2. The way they use it has changed over the years, but they still seem to find creative things to do with it, even at this age. Maybe get the play kitchen now, and then get trains later, but just keep them in a box. My kids are happy to play with trains on the floor, anyhow. I vote for the kitchen
Go with the play kitchen! We have both (our kids are ages 7, 4 and 4 months) and though the train table has been a hit, it is a phase. Our 7-yr old would never play with it again. Our 4-yr old barely plays with it now. However, the kitchen has been played with since we got it. It's the one thing that is popular at play dates as well. joj
Get the kitchen. Train tables are too limiting - my son prefers to build tracks on the floor as you can get more creative with shapes, go under things, etc. The tables are very limiting. Kitchens on the other hand, are great fun and take up less space. My twin girl and nieces can play with them for hours. anon
Play kitchen! My 21-month-old finds playing with trains not that much fun -- gotta keep them on the track, and that's hard. But she loves her play kitchen! All sorts of things you can do with that... kevin
To me, the balance is in favor of the kitchen for two reasons: 1) they take up less floor space, and 2) train tables are readily available in public places like Barnes & Noble. We bought a play kitchen for our daughter when she was 18 months old. She still plays with it quite a bit at 3, and I can see potential for it to continue. How she plays with it has changes as she's grown. She loves train tables, too, but it has worked for us to go visit train tables instead of having one at home. The downside of relying on public train tables is that there aren't always that many cars available, and sharing can be an issue depending on the child's age and mood. Happy playing
My daughter had both, a train table and a play kitchen. (The train table we already had from our older son.) She, too, always played with trains in stores (still does at age 9), but didn't play with them too much at home. I have to say she got way more years of use out of the play kitchen. She and her older brother would play trains, but there was only so much they could do with them. The kitchen offered a lot more interactive, creative, and role play opportunities. She would play house or restaurant. She would make a set of menus, then get a pad of paper, a pen, and an apron, take our orders or those of our guests when we had friends over, then make up the orders with her fake food from her kitchen, and serve us. Sometimes her brother would play the short-order cook for her. It was really funny. This went on for years. She did an amazing job of emulating what goes on in a restaurant. Then sometimes, she'd just hang out with her kitchen pretending to make food for her stuffed animals. We eventually moved it outside and because it was plastic, it held up well out there. This toy got serious use for 4 or 5 years, which I think is pretty darned good. The train table got kind of boring for them. Order Up!
We have a boy so I can only speak to that, but we have both and he enjoys both but he plays with the train table far more than the kitchen. However, this I'm sure is related to placement since the kitchen is crammed into a corner of our real kitchen and the train table is open in the living room. Still, he loves trains anyway. Could just be a boy thing. Trans vs kitchens
Based on our experience, I would definitely go with the play kitchen. Our now 7 year old daughter loved playing with the train tables at stores and was a big Thomas fan between the ages of 2 and 4. In reality, though, some of her best train set-ups were just done on the floor. At the same time, we started acquiring a few play kitchen pieces which she played with then, and STILL plays with them a lot! I find that her friends also gravitate toward the kitchen stuff. They play restaurant a lot, or are in the kitchen ''cooking'' when I'm cooking, feeding their baby dolls, etc. HTH._ Alison
I got a play kitchen for my daughter when she was 2 and she still plays with it at 5 and a half. We've never had a train table so I can't comment on that. I vote kitchen
I was a train and play kitchen-loving girl. Suggest you get the trains and track (and accessories) for your daughter, improvising the train table or skipping it, thus leaving room for the play kitchen too. Some tips so that the trains don't take up so much money or space: A train table is more quickly outgrown than the trains & track. For my train-loving son, we found a free used coffee table the same size as a train table and used it as our living room coffee table, getting rid of a glass topped one that was a hazard (cut my arm badly getting rid of it too). We put bins under it just like the $195 train table, only our bins were wicker baskets which looked nicer under the table in our small living room. They don't need lakes painted on the table -- you could paint that or paint chalkboard paint on it or just leave it wood as we did. It does lack sides but that never bothered us. We received nice hand-me-down Brio trains and some new knock-off track and train sets. Ikea had some trains for $5.00. We saw Brio collections for sale in the classified ads too. People like to give them as gifts once it's known a child likes them. When I was a little girl I had both a play kitchen and the plastic precurser of Brio trains. We still have my trains at Grandma's - it's a classic. My son loves his Brio/Thomas knock-off trains and has not outgrown them at age 9 (although most kids do), but he never uses the table anymore (because the track set-ups are too large and elaborate to fit on the table). mother of a train freak
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