I live with my 4-year-old son Arthur (or Artie) in a relatively small apartment in Brooklyn, New York where we have only one real closet and almost every square inch is maxed out. For me, that means that every toy I buy for him has to cross off more than one box to make the cut. In a perfect world, all of his toys are fun, educational to some degree, and easy on the eyes (and ears).
With the guidelines I’ve set for Artie, I’ve put together a list of gifts perfect for kids who love food and cooking. These beautiful and functional toys and accessories may just inspire a life-long interest in the culinary arts, which I already see in Artie. Now, if only I could figure out how to get him interested in cleaning up...
1. Melissa & Doug Wooden Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter,
Melissa & Doug toys have always been a favorite of mine. Oh, and Artie's, of course. Not only are they lovely to look at, but they also encourage interaction, which is important for child development. We can’t go out for ice cream every day, but at least we can play “ice cream shop” whenever the mood strikes!
2. Opinel Le Petit Chef Kids Knife Set & Apron, $25-$74
I didn’t learn how to properly hold my knife until I was in my 20s and in culinary school! This set is perfect for training little hands to the correct grip, and Arthur loves that he gets to use a “real knife” to help mama in the kitchen.
3. KiwiCo. Science of Cooking: Ice Cream, $29.95
My favorite thing about cooking and baking is watching humble ingredients magically transform into something delicious. It never fails to amaze me, and I want my kiddo to feel that sense of wonder in the kitchen, too! This kit is the perfect gift to cultivate that spark and inspire kids to dig deeper into the science behind cooking.
4. Five Two Ultimate Apron, $25-$45
Arthur and I both get messy in the kitchen—it’s inevitable, but these sturdy aprons are perfect for both of us. The best part? The children’s aprons come with adjustable Velcro neck straps that make it super easy to get on and off—and came in very handy during Artie's photoshoot.
Most sidewalk chalk is too long and the pieces break too easily. Besides being adorable, this sidewalk chalk is the perfect size for small hands that tend to press just a little too hard when drawing. The wide, flat base makes them practically indestructible.
6. Janod Big Cooker Reverso Wooden Kitchen Playset, $263.99
This beautiful play kitchen puts the little ‘70s-style cookware set of my childhood to shame. It’s gorgeous and well-stocked. I can’t think of a better way to get kids excited about cooking—and cleaning! I wish my kitchen looked as good as this...
7. KiwiCo. Baking and Fractions, $44.95
If you don’t have the space for a full kitchen playset (and who does?), this is a great alternative. It looks terrific and has some real working parts, which is always a plus for busy little hands. It also doubles as a teaching tool when your child is ready for fractions. See, food and math—two things that can go together with the right tools.
8. Tender Leaf Toys Home Baking Set, $54.99
Are you sensing a theme here? Getting kids excited about cooking and baking is one of my life goals and this set fits right in. It’s made of wood and felt, which is so nice for kids who like to touch and feel everything, like mine.
9. Pancake Pile-Up!,
Arthur and I make pancakes practically every weekend. Now, we can keep the fun going with this adorable Pancake Pile-Up! game. He won’t even realize he’s practicing his counting at the same time.
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