When Bugga was around 11 months old, I started to notice that every time I picked her up from the gym daycare she was happily "cooking" in the daycare's miniature kitchen. Because I spend my days with my children, Bugga is in the kitchen for every one of her meals, and can watch the preparation from her learning tower. As children love to mimic what they see, my little monkey naturally wanted to "cook" in a kitchen.
I found this fantastic kitchen made my KidKraft at Costco. I am starting to like this brand for the creative designs, and they offer alternatives to all that kid plastic. Anyway, once I put it together (hear the pride in that, as it took awhile, but was worth it) Bugga has pretty much been playing with it ever since.
There are also about 7 billion kitchen accessories that are on the market for play kitchens. Between what we've bought for Bugga and what she's been gifted from others (pretty much the perfect gift for a 2-3 year old of any gender), here are some thoughts on what we have:
27 Piece Cookware Set - This is another KidKraft item (yes, it is plastic). My parents gifted this to Bugga this past Christmas. She uses it every time she plays in the kitchen, and the cups get dragged all over the house. This kid loves cups. To an obsessive level. Anyway...
Green Toys Tea Set - This is what started our home collection of dishes. I'm pretty sure most of the spoons have vanished at this point, but every single other piece is still in regular rotation. And it's GREEN - BONUS.
Just Like Home Toaster from Toys R Us - Not even going to give you the link for this piece of junk. We use a toaster every morning for Bugga's waffle breakfast so of COURSE she needs one for her kitchen. This one is great in concept but is terrible. An adult needs to push down the lever and it works 1 time out of 10. And the noise is horrendous. Don't buy this.
Pop-Up Toaster by Hape Toys - I bought this as a replacement for the first one. It's made of wood instead of plastic so even better. Plus, it has this cute stick of butter that can be "sliced" - I thought this would be a great way for Bugga to safely practice using a knife.
Duktig Fruit Basket and Duktig Vegetable Basket from IKEA - So many play food sets you see in toy stores include junk food, which is not what I want Bugga to be too used to. These fruits and vegetables are soft, healthy, and they've been very helpful for helping us talk about things like what goes into a salad, onto a sandwich, etc.
Just Like Home Everyday Cookware Set - This is a great all-inclusive set of pots, pans and accessories (despite the review of the toaster from the same toy line above).
Melissa & Doug Food Groups - Last week I noticed Bugga was serving less of her "imaginary" pasta and more "butter" as a meal. Yeah, so that had to stop. So I ordered this food group set to give her some common healthy proteins that she can learn more about without limiting herself to a bland butter-only pretend diet. Ha.
The final touch: the other day I quickly made some felt bow pasta for Bugga to put into her pots and she loves it. As I expected: she eats pasta several times a week, so this is a no-brainer for a toy. And SO east to make. Let me know if you need the instructions.