Most kids love to get involved in cooking and meal prep (especially if you start working with them when they’re young). But of course, the biggest obstacle is getting them up to the counter so they can work with you. That’s why I love having a learning tower.
If you’re looking for a safe way to let your child help you cut up fruits and veggies, stir brownie mix, or do other fun tasks at counter height, a learning tower is exactly what you need. Learning towers are perfect for helping your child reach higher while staying safe from falling.
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I’m so grateful to be working with Little Partners, who sent me a Learning Tower to try out with my own family. Here’s my review of the Little Partners Learning Tower (plus everything you need to know about using one in your own home).
Table of Contents
What is a learning tower?
A learning tower is basically an extra sturdy stool that has guard rails on all four sides. That way, your child can reach the counter to help you with stirring, sprinkling, and dicing safely.
You may hear learning towers called something else, such as a Montessori learning tower or a kitchen helper, but either way, it’s a great item to have in your home.
Plus, good learning towers (like the ones from Little Partners) are adjustable so they can grow with your child. There’s an opening through the guard rails so your child can climb in.
What to think about when buying a learning tower
There are a few things you should look for when choosing the best learning tower for your toddler. First, make sure it’s adjustable. That way, you can lower it as your child grows taller.
I like how easily I can adjust the Little Partners Learning Tower base. No tools are required, you just pull up on the “handle” to fold the step.
Once you lock the dowel into the height you need, the step will be stable and can’t fall down. Easy-peasy!
Second, look for a learning tower with a wide base. That way, it will be more stable and sturdy. Plus, you can easily fit more than one kid on it (I’ve had three kids trying to cram onto the learning tower at once, but I recommend sticking to only one or two…).
Third, choose a learning tower that’s made of non-toxic materials. Toddlers (especially teething ones) are notorious for chewing on railings, so that’s why I love Little Partners. Everything they make is tested to be Greenguard Gold, no added formaldehyde, and lead, heavy metal, and phthalate safe.
If you’re looking for a learning tower that will last through your child’s toddler years and beyond, the Little Partners Learning Tower is my top pick. This learning tower features a wide, stable base, adjustable platform, and handrail guards that protect your child from all four sides. Plus, the learning tower is made from durable, non-toxic birch and poplar wood.
While I chose the soft white learning tower, Little Partners has several colors of learning towers you can choose from (natural, espresso, ebony, olive green, and red) to match your decor. All paints that they use are non-toxic.
While the Little Partners Learning Tower is a bit on the heavy side compared to a kitchen chair (as in, not at all too heavy for an adult to move, but too heavy for a 3 year old to move), that’s actually a good thing, because it’s not going to topple over (and your toddler won’t be moving it all over the place).
One other consideration: The original Learning Tower does have a significant footprint (24″ x 22″ or 61cm x 56cm) and likely won’t tuck under your counter (it’s 39″ or 99cm tall).
If that’s too much space for your kitchen, consider the Explore ‘n Store Learning Tower. The lower step tucks in under the upper one when not in use, and the footprint is only 23″ x 19.5″ (58cm x 50cm). The Explore ‘n Store is slightly shorter too, at only 33.5″ (85cm). That way, it can easily tuck under your counter for storage.
Benefits of a learning tower
There are many benefits of using a learning tower, for both kids and parents. Here are some of my favorite ways our Little Partners Learning Tower helps our family:
Allow kids to participate in meal prep and cooking easily
Kids love to help in the kitchen (especially when you start them young!). After all, that’s one of the main tenets of the Montessori philosophy – that children can and should participate in daily tasks of running the household.
But the biggest problem of getting kids involved is that they can’t reach the kitchen counter yet. That’s why the learning tower is so useful.
RELATED: Stress-free meal prep with kids
Get kids familiar with new foods
Did you know kids are more likely to eat foods they’ve helped prep?
Kids are wired to be wary of new foods. After all, that tendency kept us alive centuries ago, when we were surrounded by plants that we could put in our mouths (but could also poison us).
RELATED: 6 ways to help your picky kid eat better
By interacting with fruits, veggies, and other foods before meal time, kids become more used to them and are more likely to eat them. And let’s be honest: The opportunity to be more in control of their meal is likely a draw too.
In fact, a 2019 study showed that 5-7 year olds eat more a food they made themselves than the exact same food cooked by someone else (this was true whether they made a salad or an unhealthy dessert). Fair warning: Let your kids use their learning tower to help you fix veggies and fruit, not just cookies and brownies!
Develop gross and fine motor skills
Cutting, spreading, sorting, stirring… these are all complex movements that take practice to do well. Using a learning tower to help cook gives your child a chance to develop the same muscles they’ll need in school and play.
RELATED: Best kitchen tools for kids
Give your child a boost for chores and out-of-reach items
We often have our kids help unload the dishwasher. The only problem is, the plates and bowls are on a shelf that they can’t quite reach yet.
Once again, learning tower to the rescue! Just place it in front of the cabinets and let your kids get their chores done, whether that’s putting away dishes, towels, or even dusting furniture.
RELATED: Free printable customizable family chore chart
Fun and games at counter height
Of course, not everything you do with a learning tower has to be work (even if it’s fun work). The Little Partners Learning Tower is a great way to keep your crafty kid somewhat contained, so they don’t wander from the table over to the wall with their crayons and glitter.
Encouraging your child’s independence
Ultimately, our job as parents is to help our kids grow into fully functioning adults. They need the confidence to practice the skills they need, and to know that even if they don’t do something perfect the first time, it’s okay.
RELATED: Giving your kids a growth mindset
Maybe your kid doesn’t chop bell pepper as finely as you prefer. It’s still important that they’re trying. So comment on how pleased they must be with their work, and continue coaching the next time they get to help in the kitchen.
What age is old enough for a learning tower?
Most learning towers are recommended for kids aged 18 months to 6 years old, depending on the model. My friend’s 1.5 year old daughter tried the learning tower, and it’s just the right size for her at the tallest setting.
To be honest, I’ve used a stool for my child even as young as 14-18 months. The trick is, the child needs to be able to stand independently if they’re going to use a learning tower.
The Little Partners Learning Tower is rated to hold up to 250 lbs (113 kg), so it’s fine for older children too. In fact, my 7 year old loves it. For her, I have the step on the lowest level, but I can easily raise it back up (no tools needed!) for my 2.5 year toddler.
For kids under 18 months, I recommend Little Partner’s 3-in-1 booster seat. Instead of bringing the child to the counter, let them help you at the table. They can cut soft cheeses, stir, or sort beans while being safely contained in their seat. Once they’re older and better at standing, they can graduate to the learning tower.
How long do learning towers last?
A well made learning tower (like Little Partners’) will last for years. And as I said before, my 7 year old likes using the tower too, so if you start at 18 months, that’s over 5 years of use for just one child. You could use a learning tower for many years as each of your kids grow.
Are learning towers safe?
Yes, a learning tower is much safer than a chair. A learning tower is a tall, stand-alone structure with a platform and guardrails on all 4 sides (but don’t worry, the guardrail isn’t so high that it blocks your child from the counter).
RELATED: 7 kitchen safety tips for kids
It is designed to give toddlers and young children a safe way to participate in activities that are typically done at counter height, such as cooking, baking, art projects, and more.
Are learning towers worth it?
I get what you may be thinking: “A learning tower can be really pricey; couldn’t I just use a kitchen chair and be done?” But there’s actually some really good reasons to splurge on a learning tower:
Learning tower vs step stool: What’s the difference?
When you’re looking for a way to help your toddler safely participate in activities around the kitchen, two popular options are learning towers and step stools.
While step stools are great for older kids who are a little taller, they likely aren’t high enough for toddlers and young preschoolers. Plus, the lack of guardrails makes it easier for kids to fall.
Learning tower or kitchen chair?
The classic stand-by for helping young kids get up to counter height is to bring over a dining room chair. While that can work, there’s a lot of problems with it:
- The seat cushion isn’t a firm surface. If the edges aren’t sturdy, your child may fall.
- Chairs are easy to tip over. I’ve seen my kids stand in a chair and lean before, and it was a scary fall. The weight of a learning tower and its wide base makes it extra stable.
- Even if your chair doesn’t have a cushion, it likely is curved in for the seat (instead of flat for little feet to stand on).
- The lack of guardrails makes it so that you need to stay right with your child to keep them from falling (instead of stepping away for a spoon quickly or something like that).
So even if you’re a little nervous about it, I would say to go ahead and take the plunge on the Little Partners Learning Tower (or Explore ‘n Store for smaller spaces).
Conclusions on learning towers
If you’re looking for a safe and easy way to let your child help in the kitchen, look no further than a learning tower. A learning tower is a great way to give your child independence while keeping them safe and close by. We highly recommend the Little Partners Learning Tower because it’s sturdy, easy to assemble, and has a wide base that makes it difficult for kids to topple over. Plus, it comes in several fun colors that will brighten up your kitchen! Get your Little Partners Learning Tower today and make cooking with your little one easier than ever.