Learning towers bring toddlers and little kids up to counter height, protect them from falling backwards with their smart design, and let the kids help cook, play, or eat up where the action is. They’re SO useful! Today, I’m sharing my favorites to fit a range of budgets and spaces.
Learning Towers for Toddlers
We love how a learning tower, which is essentially a stool with a cage on top to prevent falling, gets toddlers right into the action. Little kids love to help and be right with grown ups in the kitchen, and this is the safest way to make that happen. And since a learning tower (which is sometimes also called a kitchen helper) will likely live in your kitchen for a few years, it’s a good idea to think through:
- How much space you have
- How long you ideally want it to last
- How many kids you think might use it.
This will help you think through your budget to pick the best one for your family. From an IKEA-hack option that starts with a $20 stool to a foldable, yet durable mid-priced option, and the upper tier of learning towers, there is surely one to fit your needs and your budget!
Why can’t I just use a stool?
I mean, you can. But honestly, my kids have unintentionally fallen backwards off of stools enough times that I don’t recommend it. I 100% love the safety aspect that learning towers offer because while you of course need to supervise them in the kitchen, there are times when you may need to leave their side.
It’s so nice that you can have them help you in the kitchen, or simply play at the counter while you work, and you don’t have to stand right next to them the entire time for fear that they’ll fall.
If you want your toddler to be able to safely be at counter height with you to cook or to play while you cook, an actual learning tower is a must. This is probably the most used item in my kitchen!
Why Learning Towers are So Awesome for Families with Toddlers
- They offer a safe way for toddlers to be at kitchen counter height without excessive worry that they’ll fall.
- This allows toddlers to be part of the action when you’re cooking dinner, cleaning up, or otherwise are busy in the kitchen—and they love that!
- They’re a great spot for toddlers to safely stand when they’re actually helping you cook (if you do that sort of thing with your littles!).
- Toddlers can climb in and out of a learning tower on their own, making it something that they can take ownership of…which they also love!
- They can use one to wash their hands on their own and generally gain more independence.
Best Learning Tower, Small Spaces: Guide Craft Kitchen Helper, $149
Full disclosure: Guide Craft sent me one of their learning towers to try and while I was honestly not looking for a new learning tower, we LOVE this one. It came nearly fully assembled and it took me just a few minutes to screw on the foot stabilizers. You can adjust the height of the interior platform as the kids grow, it wipes down easily, and isn’t too big for smaller spaces. Plus, you can fold it flat for storage and it comes with a mesh back to prevent falls.
It’s also easy to move around if needed (I have felt coasters on the bottom of each foot) and is plenty roomy for a toddler to stand in and use up until 4-5 years of age. (My 4.5 year old uses ours regularly.)
- Bottomline: Priced at $149 on Amazon, this is affordable and well-made. It folds to store flat if needed, is big enough for a toddler to comfortably stand in it, but doesn’t take up too much space in the kitchen. (This has been in very low stock in fall/winter 2020. I am hoping it comes back soon.)
Best Learning Tower, Budget: DIY Ikea-Hack Learning Tower, about $50
We had our IKEA-Hack Learning Tower for 5 years and we’ve loved it—especially since it’s very compact and costs under $50 to make since you start with an IKEA stool and build a simple frame on top. It’s easy to move, easy for toddlers to get in and out of, and is the perfect height for a toddler to stand at the counter.
It worked wonderfully for our first child. But… we had a different experience with our second who is a total climber. She’d regularly try to sit on the back bar, which is a problem since she could easily topple over. (This is skinnier and narrower, so it falls over whereas the other ones in this guide are unlikely to do that due to their design.)
- Bottomline: It’s a great option if you’re on a budget and have a small space. Keep a close eye on how the kids use it to ensure that it’s a safe option. Expect your toddler to outgrow it by the time they’re 3 or 4. This is the how-to method that we used (and that my dad has made numerous times now).
Best Learning Tower, Classic: Little Partners, $199
This Little Partners toddler learning tower is usually thought of as the Rolls Royce of learning towers. Parents who have one swear by it and I’ve heard testimony after testimony speaking to how durable and useful they are for years, and through multiple kids. It comes in a few colors and they also offer accessories like an easel, a busy board, and a nonslip mat to put underneath.
- Bottomline: If space isn’t an issue and you want a learning tower that will last for years, this is a great option. (This is usually $199 on Amazon.)
Best Safe Kids Stool: Little Partners Explore n Store Kids Adjustable Step Stool, $149
This slim-design stool is similar to a learning tower, but is sort of streamlined. It would be a great option for small spaces, older kids who still need a height boost, and is super durable.
- Bottomline: If you’re looking for something that takes up less space, but is still super safe, this kids stool is a great option.
Best Tips for Using a Learning Tower with Your Kids
- Plan to start around 16-18 months and look at the accessories from each brand to see what additional safety options are available. (Guidecraft makes a mesh cover so you can seal up one of the openings for added security while the kids are in it, for example.)
- We keep our tower in a set place in our kitchen so our toddler knows where they can use the counter. And so I know where to keep things out of reach. (As in, don’t put yours right in front of where you store your kitchen knives!)
- Wipe it down occasionally since it may get dusty or sticky, depending on how you use it.
- If your child is using it unsafely—jumping on it, using it as a ladder to get onto the counter, trying to pull it over, I suggest putting it away for a few days or otherwise limiting their use to reset the behavior. They need to behave to earn the right to use it.
- Consider how to share the tower if you have more than one kiddo. There are some options for a double-wide tower, but that only works if you have the space for it.
- Use it as a place for your child to do simple activities while you cook so they can be nearby. It’s not just for cooking!