I knew I eventually wanted to get my grandson a play kitchen but after I went with him to a play group and watched him spend a good half hour putting things in and taking things out of a play kitchen, I decided he was ready for it sooner than I thought. I knew I wanted a wood kitchen for him and started researching them online. After I saw some of the prices, I decided making a play kitchen would be a perfect DIY project for Grandmom.
I looked on the web and Pinterest and found some amazing play kitchens made from nightstands and entertainment centers. I guess I’m sort of DIY because some of those projects were beyond my carpentry skills. I looked to see what I could find on Craigslist and found this cute little basic kitchen for $20 that was in decent shape structurally but pretty scratched and banged up.
I sanded the whole thing down, including sanding off the burners for the stove that were really scratched and were disproportionately large. The kitchen seemed a little low even for my 11 month old grandson so I added round feet at the bottom that I had left over from another project. I found simple 4 1/2′ round wooden discs for $1.00 each at Michael’s that I painted black and I got red plastic hardware at Ikea’s that was a packet of 6 handles for $2.99.Black blackboard paint from Michael’s was used to paint each side panel of the kitchen. I used non toxic wooden glue to attach the burners and wiped the whole thing down with a combination of beeswax and coconut oil so it would be safe for the baby. (1 part melted beeswax to 3 parts coconut oil- Melt both in top of double boiler, let cool and apply as many coats as you would like) The beeswax coconut oil mix will protect the wood from sticky fingers but is safe.
At this point, I think the kitchen is perfect for my grandson. At his age, he is not yet ready to start cooking but he loves putting things into things and taking them out. There are enough doors and shelves for him to have a great time.
I thought I was finished until I walked into Ikea and saw the top part of their Duktig play kitchen on sale for $10. My play kitchen was two inches shorter in width than the Ikea kitchen but I thought I could make it work. I got two blocks of wood and attached them to the side of the kitchen and attached the upper piece to them.
I decided to wait until my grandson is a little older before putting the upper piece on again. He is definitely too little to reach the top piece and this way he will use it more like a kitchen when he is old enough to understand the concept. it will feel like two separate toys for him. The whole project cost me about $40 total.
Now that the kitchen was finished, I got some supplies for it. I found some really ingenious toys for a play kitchen. Hape makes quite a few accessories for a play kitchen, from a set of pots and pans to a wooden pop up toaster, there are lots of things to add to a kitchen. Melissa and Doug also make quite a few wooden toy accessories for a play kitchen including a play cutting board and fruit where the fruit pieces are attached by Velcro and can be “sliced apart” with a wooden knife. Plan Toys offer great wooden foods from breakfast foods to pizza.
My grandson has started to push everything he can find around the house as he practices walking so I also looked for a shopping cart. There are quite a few from plastic to metal shopping carts that look just like the grown up version. I chose the Little Tikes shopping cart because it was sturdy for a toddler just learning to walk. My grandson pushes it around the house with his favorite stuffed money sitting upside down in it.
What are your favorite play kitchen toys?