This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Melissa & Doug, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board.
The first thing I noticed about our current home when we toured it was the extra front room. I immediately thought, “That would be a great area for a playroom.” I was halfway through my first pregnancy and had tons of Pinterest-worthy ideas of how we would set up our son’s future play space. I imagined open shelving, fun wall decor, and, of course, a beautiful pretend kitchen. Fast forward to his first birthday, and you can imagine what we chose as his big-ticket gift. He is now three, and all my mom friends ask me the same question when they come over and see it: “Are play kitchens really worth it?”
My answer is always “absolutely, yes, 100 percent”—but with one major caveat. Play kitchens are a long-term investment. But it’s easy for kids to become bored with a toy that they see every single day for years. Therefore, it’s important to buy one that has a variety of features that keep them engaged longer. I purchased ours without having that knowledge, so now that I know better, I’m sharing my top play kitchen recommendation and why it’s the best.
It takes pretend play to the next level
The Chef’s Kitchen by Melissa & Doug is what I wish I had purchased for my kids all those years ago. Our son was interested in our first play kitchen those first few months, but it became old news way faster than I anticipated. However, he recently got the opportunity to play with the Chef’s Kitchen now that he is 3 years old, and its capabilities pushed his imagination further than ever.
It includes features like a refrigerator and freezer with an innovative working ice maker that dispenses two included “ice cubes.” It also has an oven and stovetop with dials that turn, a microwave with a turning plate, and a sink with a moving faucet and handle. The grocery checklist, movable hooks, and ample shelving and storage for easy cleanup are also nice touches that he loved. The more realistic a toy is, the more likely my kids are to be entertained by them, which is what makes this kitchen my top pick.
The Melissa & Doug Chef’s Kitchen comes in three colors: Cloud, Charcoal, and Cupcake. Cloud is white and grey with a faux marble counter, Charcoal has darker tones and modern finishes, and Cupcake is a fun, bright pink. All of these wooden play kitchens are sturdy, long-lasting, and wide enough for multiple kids to play simultaneously.
It works seamlessly with other toys
Since my toddlers are more interested in toys that resemble everyday adult items and functions, we use a lot of pretend play sets. What makes the Chef’s Kitchen even more worth it is how you can incorporate other Melissa & Doug sets with it.
Melissa & Doug toys are exceptional at mimicking real-life scenarios, so they’re able to capture a child’s imagination for hours. You can easily use other toys with the Chef’s Kitchen like Stainless Steel Pots & Pans Play Set, Wooden Food Groups, Slice and Bake Cookie Set, and so much more.
We own every single one of these play sets and they have provided us with hours of playtime. My son “cooks” different foods in his pots and pans on the play stove, bakes cookies and pizza in the play oven, and serves us delicious meals daily. He even pretends he is a chef at a restaurant sometimes. I can only imagine the varying scenarios he and his sister will act out together once she is old enough.
The quality of Melissa & Doug’s wooden toys are heirloom-worthy, so I know they will still be in great shape for years to come. Even his 10-year-old cousin gets super excited to use our play kitchen and sets any time she comes over. That’s how I know the Chef’s Kitchen and all its companion pretend play toys are a worthwhile investment.
This post is sponsored by Melissa & Doug, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.