There are few better places for toddlers to learn than in the kitchen. Unfortunately, most kitchens aren't exactly designed with toddlers in mind—the counter is far above their head, and dangerous things like stovetops and knives abound—but it's the perfect setting to introduce them to beginning science and math concepts through measuring, pouring, and cooking. It also sets them on a path to be helpful and involved members of the family.
Enter the learning tower. Championed by Montessori teachers and parents of enthusiastic "I do it!" declaring toddlers everywhere, these wooden kitchen helpers are the furniture you never knew you needed. (Until suddenly, you did.) Unlike too short stepstools and unstable chairs pulled up to the counter, learning towers are designed specifically for little ones to safely engage in kitchen activities, side-by-side with parents and caregivers.
Why are learning towers great for toddlers?
Standing at eye level with grown-up butts all day has to get old. But all kidding aside, providing your eager learner with the opportunity to safely get in on the action is invaluable. From 18 months on, kids are capable of pitching in with age-appropriate chores and cooking. And, the more they can reach, the more they can help. Additionally, developing these skills from an early age helps build self-confidence and knowledge that can make them truly helpful even as a toddler. (There are no rules that say you can't teach a three-year-old how to master the art of pour-over coffee. #winning)
What age is a learning tower for?
You know your toddler best, but look at it this way—if they can climb stairs, they can benefit from a learning tower. Some more open designs are better suited for ages 3+, however, most manufacturers recommend them for 18 months and up.
Are learning towers safe?
Like any furniture they can climb on, learning towers need to be used on an even surface. And while they often have a wide footprint, tipping is still a concern, so be sure to only use them while pushed up against secure structures like counters and sinks.
What are the best learning towers? Check out our top picks below!
The gold standard of learning towers, Little Partners introduced the original in 1992. Designed by a Montessori teacher and mom, the durable and sturdy tower sits flush against the counter making it easy for little ones to cook, rinse, measure and stir with ease. The roomy platform and a 500-pound weight limit means it can easily accommodate two little ones at a time.
Why we love it: With a few additional accessories, the tower can easily become a puppet theater, lemonade stand or ice cream stand!
Easy to build, super solid and sturdy, this simple learning tower is ideal for smaller kitchens. It's one of the more narrow designs we've found, measuring only 19 inches wide and features a clever folding step that makes it easy for kiddos to get in and out on their own. The platform adjusts to three different heights, however, the absence of a lower crossbar makes it more appropriate for ages 3+.
Why we love it: The grippy stickers are an excellent touch—especially for kids who love living in socks.
Why invest in just a learning tower when you can invest in a learning tower/activity table + chairs/chalkboard transformer of awesome? This brilliant design takes the concept to the next level, growing with your little one over the years. It requires very little assembly and converts between tower and table styles with a simple fold and clasp.
Why we love it: Multitasking products will always have our hearts.
Tastefully fun and cleverly constructed, this two-in-one tower is by far the coolest one around. Its lacy design gives little climbers a lot of places to grab when getting in and out, and when they're ready for mealtime or activities, it easily converts to a table and bench. (You can add a second for a friend or sibling for an additional cost.) The only drawback is that the height isn't adjustable.
Why we love it: It's a turtle with a toadstool. We're sold.
This one is more step stool on steroids than traditional learning tower, but as a short person, it's a style I can appreciate. It doesn't have railings, so it's certainly better suited for kids that are 3+. The sturdy construction can hold up to 200 pounds so if you're like me, this one could stick around until long after your kid laps you in height, sparing them the need to come help you get the mixer off the top of the fridge. (#truestory)
Why we love it: It's easy to use wherever step stools come in handy—not just the kitchen.
Made from solid wood but less chunky than other styles, this learning tower can make its way back and forth between the kitchen and bathroom fairly easily. It features two adjustable heights and extra-grippy tape on the step and platform ensuring wiggly toddlers stay put no matter how excited they get.
Why we love it: The back safety rail can be removed when your child grows.
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