Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kid Cook Gadgets: Kitchen Helper Stool

Before he was even walking, X had found his way into our kitchen. Mornings were like his own personal cooking show with his Dad as the host, X and I as loyal and hungry viewers. From frying bacon to the proper method for cracking eggs, a running commentary was provided for X while I lifted him for a closer view of the action (always a safe distance from the hot and sharp stuff). By the time he was two, he was definitely ready to play a bigger role in the family kitchen. But we weren't ready for him!
In the past, our small but efficient galley kitchen couldn't fit the one piece of equipment I think every Kid-friendly kitchen should have - a stool for your little Kitchen Helper. Luckily, our move a few months ago brought a bigger house and with it, a bigger kitchen. And so, come Christmas morning, Santa had left our Kid Cook a Kitchen Helper Stool under (well, technically, next to) the Christmas tree.
Buying this stool fell to me and I considered three different models before settling on the one we finally purchased.

The Learning Tower - $199.99 plus shipping, tax etc.from For Small Hands
The first place I looked was the Montessori school supply catalog, For Small Hands. Since the Montessori method is all about kids doin' it for themselves, this catalog has a lot to offer for the Kid, especially in the kitchen.
But looking at the Learning Tower, I wasn't that impressed with the materials, the construction or the overall look. And the price left a lot to be desired! For that kind of money, I'd really want something that adapted into something as he grew out of the need for an elevated view in the kitchen. 

The Kitchen Helper by Guidecraft - $121.88 plus on Amazon
The Kitchen Helper has "kid" style written all over. Cut-outs of shapes in the wood on the side of the stool and the addition of a chalk board near the base make this a product that is more about the kid in your kitchen than whatever design motif you may have going. That being said, The Kitchen Helper possessed one feature that got ME (the design-conscious Mom) really excited - a collapsible design. So when the Kid wasn't in the kitchen, the Kitchen Helper could potentially be folded up and tucked out of the way.

Kids Kitchen Helper Safety Tower Step Stool - $149.99 plus at One Step Ahead
Ultimately, I went to an old friend in baby/kid supply stores - One Step Ahead. We have gotten so many things for X from here over the past two years that I was on their email list and wouldn't you know it - come Christmas-time they made me an offer I just couldn't refuse. $50 off items over $100! Free Shipping! So with a collapsible design and a sturdy-looking construction, my search was over. I'd found the stool for my little kitchen helper.

But like any love-at-first-sight story, this one comes with complications. The Dad was put in charge of putting it together on Christmas Eve and though he kept his utterances of a few choice words pretty low, I could tell it wasn't going well. One of the screws that was sent to attach the small wooden triangles on either side of each leg was so misshapen that it was unusable. And even with non-deformed screws, the rest of the triangles kind of wiggled in place. And that collapsible design - not so convenient in practice as it seems in appearance. In order to keep the standing surface stable while in use, the platform is secured to the base by a single screw, which requires an Allen wrench to remove. Fine. But where do you keep the wrench and where do you keep the screw when it's collapsed? In my kitchen, they would be lost in a heartbeat! So now, X's kitchen stool sits along the far side of the kitchen, positioned over our Scooba (my robot friend!) and we pull it into place whenever he's ready to cook, wash dishes, prep, etc... So far we've been pretty pleased with its performance outside of the issues I've mentioned and for the price (with the discounts applied, of course) we're happy overall with this Kid Cook Gadget.


dan said...

Thanks for your reviews! We're just looking into these and you've been a great help. Here's a couple of possible solutions for not losing your key and screw should you choose to collapse it: If there's a screw showing anywhere then a strong neodymium type magnet could be stuck on (or glued)and the pieces stuck to that. OK not foolproof. The other would be to drill a hole large enough to take a rubber grommet into which the key is sunk and ditto for the screw but you may not wnat to drill tow large holes in your new furniture!

Emme said...

Dan - thank you so much for your ideas! I'm passing these on to the Dad - I like the magnet idea in particular!