Involving your toddler in the kitchen is fun, can teach them great life skills, and can provide for their entertainment while you get household chores done. Having a learning tower or kitchen helper stool can make the process much smoother and safer. I spent a lot of time researching best toddler towers before buying ours and wanted to share my finds with you from the viewpoint of a Mom and Registered Dietitian!
What Is A Learning Tower? (And, why you need one!)
A learning tower is a stool with railing built around all 4 sides. It allows a child to safely work at the kitchen counter. A toddler learning tower can also be called a kitchen helper or a Montessori learning tower and is an excellent way to safely involve your toddler in your kitchen activities. It only took my toddler falling out of a chair while cooking with me a couple of times for me to decide to take the leap. It’s hands down the best purchase I’ve made for him!
The 7 Best Learning Towers for Toddlers
Ok, there are so many great toddler learning towers on the market right now. It can be overwhelming! I’ve narrowed it down to these top 7 towers that I would recommend choosing from based on you and your toddler’s needs.
We have this basic SDADI learning tower in white and LOVE it. I chose this tower due to its small footprint and lightweight structure. I highly recommend it!
NEW: SDADI now has this really similar adjustable option that looks great (read more below!)
Weight: 15 lbs
Platform Height: Not listed. But states this Little Partners tower can accommodate a child 18 months – 6 years.
Weight: 18.11 lbs
Platform Height: 10.59″, 13.18″, 15.79″, 18.39″
Weight: 28 lbs
Platform Height: 18.5″
Weight: 18 lbs
Platform Height: 12″, 16″, 20″
Weight: 20 lbs
Platform Height: 13.5″, 15.5″, 17.5″
Weight: 17 lbs
Benefits of Learning Towers
- Encourages early learning of kitchen skills. – Learning to cook, prepare food, and wash dishes are no doubt valuable skills. Most toddlers are excited and ready to help you in the kitchen. Having them at counter height certainly makes it easier to show and involve them in kitchen work.
- A learning tower is a safer option for toddlers than using a chair or stool. Toddlers do not have great balance and are prone to falling from high places. I know firsthand how scary this can be as it happened to my son several times before I finally decided I should purchase a learning tower!
- It can make cooking easier for YOU! – Yep, my tower definitely makes my job easier. Even if I’m not actively involving him in what I’m doing he loves to stand in his tower and watch or play with bowls/spoons.
- Kids are more likely to try new foods – Allowing your toddler to help with food preparation makes them more likely to try new foods. Often without prompting, my son will take bites of broccoli while helping me prepare it. This is a food that he otherwise rarely touches on his plate.
Learning Tower Options & Features to Consider
Convertible Kitchen Helper
Convertible learning towers are 2 in 1 learning towers that also double as a table and chair with one simple fold. When I first started looking into learning towers, we lived in a small apartment and I considered getting this version so that my son would also have a table as well.
The Craffox Convertible Learning Tower is a favorite adjustable tower.
Foldable Learning Tower
Some learning towers fold down which would be great if you have a small kitchen and need the extra space when your toddler is not in their tower.
If you are looking for the best foldable learning tower, the Guidecraft Classic above makes a great choice.
Adjustable Height Tower
Some towers have an adjustable height platform to allow for different ages/heights of children. This could increase the amount of time your child is able to use the tower.
Best Adjustable Helper Towers:
- SDADI adjustable learning tower
- Little Partners Explore in Store
- Little Partners
- KidWerks Kitchen Step Stool
Budget-Friendly Kitchen Helper Stools
The SDADI learning tower off of Amazon that I purchased is one of the most budget-friendly towers. I highly recommend it – we love ours. Of course, some people with the right equipment may opt to make their own while others will make this IKEA hack learning tower.
Best Age for a Learning Tower
18 months is a great age to start using a learning tower or helper stool for most toddlers. However, depending on your child and the task at hand you could start sooner if your toddler stands well. Most toddler towers seem to have a recommended age of 18 months – 3 years. Some even adjust low enough that they could be appropriate for up to 6 years old!
I started involving my toddler at around 18 months and I finally bought a tower around 20-21 months. Looking back, it would have been a great 1st birthday gift even if it took him a few months to really start using it more.
Now at age 2, he is becoming more independent with it and I find he can be entertained a good hour or more if he is “washing” dishes or helping. The tower can be used both to actively help me at this age as I teach him kitchen skills or I can set him up to work on something like dish “washing” on his own while I work in the kitchen without a toddler at my feet!
Are Learning Towers Safe?
Yes, learning towers are engineered for safety and keeping your toddler from falling out.
As with all things, you should put appropriate safety precautions into practice for your household and children. For example, keeping the tower away from dangerous things such as knives or kitchen appliances. You should come up with your own set of rules regarding your tower, but here are my main two:
- Keep the tower in a certain safe spot. In my kitchen, I have a section of countertop that is within reaching distance of nothing from the tower. I have extra counter space so it works well and I can pretty easily leave the space open for him.
- My son is not supposed to move the tower on his own. It’s safe for him to climb up in the spot I keep it on his own and he knows he is allowed to climb up in it at any point in time. However, if he wants it moved to another location a grown-up MUST be involved.
Learning Tower vs. Step Stool
Step stools can work really well for older kids, but if you want to continue to work in the kitchen and move around comfortably, a learning tower is a must with a young toddler.
Learning Tower vs. Kitchen Helper
There is no practical difference between a learning tower and a kid’s kitchen helper! They are simply different names given for the same basic concept for a Montessori Helper Tower.
Best Learning Tower for a Small Kitchen
Many families wish to purchase a learning tower for their kids, but worry about the size in a small kitchen. Perhaps choosing a tower with a small footprint, such as the SDADI learning tower which I chose would work. Or another option would be to purchase a collapsible tower like the Guidecraft Classic or Littler Partners Explore N’ Store.
5 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Learning Tower
- Where you will keep the tower. – Find a safe spot in your kitchen that you can store the tower. You want it to be convenient enough that you will use it, but far enough away from potential dangers (stove, knives, etc) that your child will not get hurt if they climb into it when you aren’t watching. (Because they will!)
- The tower’s size and footprint. – Some towers are larger than others. I chose one with a relatively small footprint and I’m glad I did. It makes it easy to move around my kitchen and I can leave it out all the time.
- Collapsible – Some towers collapse (mine does not.) Are you living in a very small space/kitchen? If so, this may be a feature you’d like.
- Adjustable height – Depending on the age range you plan to use it for this could be a helpful feature.
- Price – Consider your budget as towers come in a variety of prices depending on brand and features. You can also check Facebook marketplace and yardsales as they are often for sale on these sites!