Should We Ditch the Toy Kitchen For a Real One?

If I had to pick a toy that’s gotten the most use from a variety of ages, it’d have to be the toy kitchen. Fun pots and pans and realistic toy foods make it a hit. Toddlers run to it, and even first-graders occasionally like to prepare us “dinner.” But what if we’d taken a different approach to the kitchen idea?

How We Montessori shows us how instead of a toy kitchen, children can learn practical life skills with a tiny real kitchen. A low table and chair provide a workspace; shelves store supplies, and a minifridge keeps cold food accessible—all without taking up much more space than a toy kitchen!

Key Takeaways
—It’s important for your child to be able to access everything they need themselves to foster independence.
—Resist the impulse to overstock your child’s kitchen. When spaces are uncluttered, they’re easier for children to use and keep organized.
—Keeping cleaning supplies nearby helps children to take pride in their space.



Becky Patouhas, social media specialist, has been a babywearing educator since 2013. Her favorite part of her job is a tie between seeing all the cute baby pictures and helping parents get that “I can’t believe I can hold my baby AND eat!” moment. A first-generation American and mom of two small boys, she and her family live in Michigan, where she enjoys volunteering with her local babywearing group. Becky loves her Zypora meh dais (she has two!) because they’re so cushy on her shoulders. She always has a Lightly Padded ring sling in her purse because she loves the soft padding, and she thinks Isle of Skye is the best colorway out there!

2 thoughts on “Should We Ditch the Toy Kitchen For a Real One?

  • February 19, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    This sounds like a great idea! I would love to see pictures of someone who has set this up. After watching some of the kid cooking competitions it shows how some kids can learn skills at a lot younger age then we expect. I would love to hear more ideas of what things to put in a kid kitchen. And ideas of how to maximize learning while minimizing mess.

    • February 26, 2019 at 8:38 pm

      I’ve been watching some of those with my kids as well! There are some pictures in the linked blog, but I think this really can look different with different families, since our homes all have different layouts. We don’t have a true Montessori approach in ours, but do have a little kid-sized table from Costco, approved foods on low shelves in the fridge, and kid-friendly plates in a low cabinet!

      For learning together in the kitchen, we definitely adjust for each kid’s temperament and our patience levels on any given day as parents. Right now, we’re focusing on knife skills, so the 4-year-old is practicing with a serrated plastic lettuce knife, and the 7-year-old is learning how to use a real knife (with a cut-resistent glove).


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