I’ve had our learning tower for 5 years, and my kids still use it every other day! It has been a GOD SEND in keeping those little busy bodies close but contained in the kitchen. In my honest opinion, if you’ve got a budding toddler, then you should definitely consider investing in one of these learning towers for your house! But, before you buy a learning tower for your preschooler, there are a few key points to consider.
Investing in a learning tower for your toddler can keep your toddler contained in the kitchen, encourage their independence, and give you space to do the real cooking!
What’s a Learning Tower
Learning towers, or “activity towers,” are pretty much just glorified stepping stools with safety rails. The more expensive you go, the more features come with your tower. Some of the features include:
- Platforms that grow with your child
- Covers for play like a lemonade stand and a puppet show theater
- Attachments for play like a chalkboard
- Four sided enclosure for really little children
Learning Tower: Is it Worth it?
We received the Little Partner Learning Tower from grandpa as a gift when my oldest son was 2. It’s pretty much the top of the line when it comes to learning towers. But, it wasn’t my first choice. My first choice was a DIY IKEA Learning Tower from IKEA Hackers.
I asked my father (who’s been a builder and contractor for 40 years) to whip up the IKEA Hack version for my son’s second birthday. It probably would’ve taken him all of an hour to do, but he showed up to the party with the Little Partner Learning Tower.
It was an awesome surprise, and it came with some pretty nice perks! It raises and lowers as the child grows. It is a quality piece of furniture. And, the tower fits two kids at the same time!
#1 Consideration When Buying a Learning Tower
Hands down the most important factor is going to be space. (Did you think I was going to say safety or price? Nope. Space!) Learning towers are MONSTERS. They take up lots of space, carry some substantial weight, and many don’t fold down.
They’re just there for the duration.
But, you can always pimp it out like Love & Baby Steps did! Go check out how they made their’s a super fun play station for their kid! Also, here’s a great customizable version from TKP Designs if you’re looking for something a little different, too!
COLLAPSIBLE LEARNING TOWERS
If you have limited space, you may want to think about picking a “foldable” tower like the Guidecraft Classic Kitchen Helper. It’s not going to be any cheaper, but it will give you space when you need it.
Plus, this one fits two!
CONVERTIBLE LEARNING TOWERS
The Kitchen Helper Stool and Desk turns the learning tower into a table + chair combo. It’s pretty cool if you’re looking for a two-fer. We’ve had a Learning Tower as well as a table and chair set for our kids in our kitchen for years. So, this would’ve been a good choice (had we thought it through).
If you don’t like the cookie cutter stuff you’re seeing on Amazon, then check out Etsy! I LOVE this Montessori Learning Tower from Tiofi’s Etsy store. It’s a dual purpose item, and it’ll be used again, and again! Plus, it’s got that unique factor working in it’s favor. Love this one!
DIY Learning Towers (IKEA Hack)
The IKEA DIY Activity Tower (like this beautiful version on Happy Grey Lucky) is perfect for smaller kitchens. Its footprint is much less cumbersome than the larger learning towers. But, keep in mind that with a smaller frame, you can only have one kid in the tower at a time.
So, if you have two kids about the same age I can see this being a battle. Unless you plan on making two…then, you might as well get the bigger one!
Most importantly, you must ask yourself: IS THIS GOING TO BE A PINTEREST FAIL?
This thing is going to be with you for several years. You don’t want some half-baked DIY disaster constantly staring at you in your kitchen. That’s no way to start your mornings. Plus, the whole point is for it to be a safe place for kids to help (or be contained) in the kitchen. Sharp edges, rogue screws, and botched rails….you make the call.
Benefits of Learning Towers for Preschoolers & Toddlers
Connection: Your kids are going to love being able to be a part of the action in the kitchen. They love seeing what’s happening on the counter. These learning towers put them right at counter height without the fear of them falling OFF the counter. Win-win!
If you’re not interested in letting your kids “HELP” with cooking, the learning towers can still be an amazing asset in the kitchen. Let’s be honest, most of the time they don’t really want to help you. They want to be with you 24/7. This gives them a place to be out of the way, right there with you, and safe.
Sensory & Messy Play: One of the best things about these stands is that preschoolers (and toddlers) can do messy activities in the kitchen, safely. I used to lay down a towel under the kitchen sink and pull the learning tower up to the sink. My son would play with all his water toys or “do the dishes” for (what felt like) hours.
As they’ve grown, they’ve continued to do messy science and sensory play activities while in the tower. It’s been GREAT! I can let them get messy and not pull my hair out about the clean up. It’s already in the kitchen, so it can’t really hurt much if they spill or make a mess.
Check out this list of SUPER easy science experiments and sensory play activities your kids can do in their learning tower with stuff from the pantry!
Learning Towers Are Essential for Kitchens
Five years, three houses, and two kids later, I’m still happy we got our learning tower for our preschooler. We are a cooking kind of family, of course, so I want my boys to know their way around a kitchen! So, I love that they are eager to help when it’s time to cook.
REAL TRUTH: I also love that I can isolate them in their stand, so I can actually get dinner cooked!
If you have the space, then you should put this on your must-haves list this year! Take a lesson from me and ask the grandparents for a stand for your kid’s birthday or Christmas. It’s gonna be the gift that truly keeps on giving!