Parents understandably want the best for their children from their education to their toys. When we speak of the best toys, the price isn’t the be-all and end-all of it, although it definitely affects the overall quality of the toys. Indeed, parents also consider the durability, safety and beauty of the materials used in the toys for obvious reasons.
This is also true for kitchen playsets where parents must consider whether a wooden or a plastic play kitchen is the best choice for their kids. These are the main materials used in these toys, particularly for the kitchen unit itself, although the miniature cooking utensils, sink and fixtures are more likely made of plastic, stainless steel, and even paper.
Wood or Plastic Play Kitchen: Which one to get?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each type of materials used for play kitchens. After reading, you will then have the basic information to make a smarter decision.
Wood Play Kitchens Pros and Cons
The traditional material used for play kitchens is wood, especially before the introduction of plastic in children’s toys. Most do-it-yourself play kitchens are also made of wood, whether these are made of newly-bought wood (e.g., lumber and plywood) or of repurposed wooden furniture (e.g., dresser or study table).
The wood used in the best play kitchens have been chosen for their durability, especially the ones made of hardwood like oak and teak from repurposed furniture or thick plywood for the brand-new play kitchens. Such durability means that these playsets can become family heirlooms, if these are properly cared for.
Parents can look forward to getting the best value for their money, especially when they bought brand-new wooden play kitchens.
Yet another advantage of wooden kitchen playsets is their more realistic look and feel in comparison to their plastic counterparts. Such realism is understandable considering that traditional kitchens were made of largely of wooden components, such as in mountain cabins.
Most of the components in traditional kitchens, particularly before the advent of concrete, tiles and the like, were wood from the shelves and cabinets to the sinks and countertops.
Wooden play kitchens are also relatively easy to maintain. When spills and stains happen, just wipe them away with a clean cloth so that these don’t penetrate the wood too deeply.
When the paint starts fading, peeling, or chipping from one too many dents, a fresh coat of paint can be applied, as needed, perhaps even allowing for a change in color.
But there are also disadvantages in using wood for play kitchens. The surface can have splinters that can cause minor injuries to the children although these can also be easily removed.
Regular checking of the surfaces can significantly reduce the risk of these injuries.
The heavier weight of wooden kitchen playsets usually requires bolting them to the wall or floor so as to keep them stable, an issue common with top-heavy furniture. But it’s also an advantage in the sense that kids are less likely to topple the playset with their combined weights, such as when they climb on top.
The assembly may also be more challenging partly because of the screws involved. The replacement of broken parts also has its issues, mainly because of the prices.
Plastic Play Kitchens Pros and Cons
The overall quality of the plastic will largely determine whether a play kitchen is worth buying or not. In general, the thicker the plastic used for the play kitchen unit itself (i.e., excluding the toy accessories like cooking utensils), the more durable the toy will be.
Parents must then choose play kitchens made of thick plastic, preferably the ones made by reliable brands like Little Tikes, Melissa & Doug, and Step2.
Of course, the only way to know for sure that the plastic is strong and sturdy is to see for yourself once the play kitchen is delivered. But you can also read consumer reviews to get a general idea about this matter.
Plastic play kitchens have several benefits including:
- Easy to assemble, especially when the units are designed with click-and-lock mechanism
- Easy to clean when these become messy – a clean cloth and a soap-and-water mix will suffice
- Lightweight design makes them more portable than many wooden playsets
- No danger of splinters
- Affordable replacement pieces
But like wood, there are also drawbacks to plastic. These include a less realistic look and feel than wood kitchen playsets and less durability since plastic will inevitably crack, warp and even bend, aside from the fading colors.
Which of the two materials is the best? You, the parent, have to make the decision based on several factors including your budget, planned number of years use, and willingness to maintain the toy.
You may choose a wooden kitchen playset when you want it to become a family heirloom – or at least, it can be handed down to your child’s cousins so that it can be enjoyed for a few more years. You may, in contrast, choose a plastic play kitchen if you’re after ease of assembly and maintenance, as well as more affordable prices for a brand-new unit and for replacement parts.