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Perhaps it's their innate desire to stay glued to your side, but you can’t blame a kid —there’s something intriguing about all the goings-on in the kitchen. From dinner prep, to wiping down counters, and all the little experiments in between — the kitchen acts as a classroom in many ways. Thankfully, the best learning towers give toddlers an ideal view and provide protection that goes above and beyond that of a simple stool. Scary Mommy reached out to Lindsey Moore, M.D., to find out what to look for when shopping for learning towers.
Lindsey Moore, M.D. is an International Board Certified Pediatrician and Lactation Consultant who graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Biology from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She’s been working full-time as a pediatrician since August 2012.
What Is A Learning Tower?
Also known as a Montessori learning tower or a kitchen helper, a learning tower is typically composed of four sides and a step stool. It’s an ideal perch for curious hands and minds to watch, learn, play, and explore. The best learning tower is designed to help children reach the counter within a sturdy, safe structure that contains all the wiggles.
What Age Should You Start A Learning Tower?
Children generally hit the milestones that make learning towers safe to use around 18 months of age. “Learning towers are usually safe to use (and fun to use!) once children are independently standing, walking, and climbing,” explains Lindsey Moore, M.D. “These physical abilities and the natural curiosity that occurs at this age typically result in enthusiastic users of learning towers.”
Are Learning Towers Safe?
Learning towers are safe to use so long as certain safety measures are followed.
- Take note of the manufacturer’s age and weight limit. If your child doesn’t fall within the manufacturer's specifications, hold off until the time is right.
- They should always be used under direct adult supervision, Dr. Moore advises. Learning towers should never be expected to be safe in the absence of direct supervision. Parents know how quickly those little hands can move, so keeping an eye on them at all times is essential.
- Know when to remove the learning tower and start over. “If a child is noted to be using it in an unsafe manner such as sitting on the top rails or tilting it to make it unstable, the learning tower should be removed and then introduced again after a break of a few days,” explains Dr. Moore.
- Always remove any potentially dangerous items from the area. “It is important to make sure that it is never used on surfaces that can become hot,” she shares. Be mindful of nearby containers where sharp objects are stored and areas where a child could potentially pull something down on themselves.
How Do I Choose The Best Learning Tower?
There are several factors that should go into choosing a learning tower, from personal preference to safety features. Dr. Moore suggests selecting a learning tower based on stability, the durability of the material, and the height of the tower.
With all of these qualifications in mind, we’ve gathered the best learning towers below to give your toddler the safest view from the top.
1. The Best Foldable Learning Tower
The Kitchen Helper stool was designed to merge a philosophy of open-ended play with Guidecraft’s time-honored wooden construction. Tested to offer the utmost in safety and security, the Kitchen Helper includes and non-slip mat and 2 keepers (aka, screens). The tower is also adjustable, meaning it grows with your toddler. But here’s something great for families with small spaces (or for any parent who just wants one less thing in their way): the Kitchen Helper folds down for easy storage when not in use. And all the minimalists rejoiced!
PS: If you’ve got two little ones clamoring for the counter then you’ll love the double-wide version.
Age: 2-5 years old | Weight Capacity: 125 pounds
2. The Best Adjustable Montessori Learning Tower
When it comes to the Montessori method of learning, mirroring others with the goal of independence is where the magic happens. The Little Partners adjustable learning tower was designed by a mom and Montessori school educator to encourage togetherness in the home. The platform can be adjusted to 4 different levels with no tools necessary. In addition to safety requirements, this learning tower achieves Greenguard Gold Certification to avoid over 10,000 different chemical emissions and contribute to cleaner indoor air. And the roomy platform is wide enough for two children, with two built-in steps for safe entry and exit.
Age: 2-6 years old | Weight Capacity: 250 pounds
3. The Best Plastic Learning Tower
This no-frills plastic learning tower is here to get the job done. You can adjust the height to three options simply by sliding the platform in and out. There’s a rubber base to prevent sliding across the floor and four high sides for safety. The plastic construction makes this learning tower the most affordable, but keep in mind that plastic will limit the weight capacity.
Age: 1.5 — 5 years old | Weight Capacity: Up to 60 pounds
4. The Most Loved Little Partners Learning Tower
This award-winning Little Partners learning tower is adored by parents for its convenient storage features, slim, thoughtful design, and sustainable construction. With braces on the base, toddlers are safer from tip-overs, try as they might. “We really love this product and plan on purchasing a second one for our in-laws to have at their place,” one reviewer shared. “Our son will run straight for it whenever he is in the kitchen.” Slide it right under the counter for easy storage.
Age: 2-6 years old | Weight Capacity: Up to 150 pounds
5. The Best Wooden Toddler Kitchen Helper Under $100
Wooden learning towers are popular because they can handle a greater weight capacity than plastic, but they can certainly be an investment. This affordable kitchen helper with a step stool is made from solid wood and sealed with a non-toxic, lead-free coating. The railings surround your kiddo on all four sides and while this one isn’t adjustable by height, it can safely hold up to 150 pounds.
Age: 18 months-3 years old | Weight Capacity: Up to 150 pounds
6. The Highest Rated Modern Learning Tower
This learning tower features a stylish modern design that’s made of premium birch wood and comes in four different colors. You can adjust the platform to three different heights and there are anti-slip pads on all four legs. Parents love the slim design for small spaces and how the back bar leaves enough space for little ones to climb in and out on their own.
Age: 1-3 years old | Weight Capacity: Up to 100 pounds
7. The Best Convertible Learning Tower
We love a two-in-one product and this convertible learning tower certainly lives to the “more bang for your buck” philosophy. Once your toddler has “helped” prepare the meal, simply turn the tower over and you have the perfect little table. Or, turn it into activity time with the built-in chalkboard (eraser included). Parents even found this particular learning tower to unlock imagination and play in unexpected ways, like a display for toys and an anchor for forts.
Age: 18 months to 5 years old | Weight Capacity: 150 pounds