With careful supervision, they can help boost independence and motor skills.
Toddlers are often eager to help out in the kitchen, and some just love hanging out to see what their parents are up to. But when a young child needs to reach the countertop, safety concerns arise. That’s where a good learning tower comes in, as it can be a a great way for young children to reach various heights without the same worries of falling from a step stool.
“Inspired by the Montessori methods of teaching, the learning tower is designed to help kids learn and explore,” says Rachel Rothman, Chief Technologist at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Also known as a kitchen helper tower or Montessori tower, a learning tower is a unit with typically four sides and a step stool. Rothman says they’re designed to allow your child reach tabletop height alongside with you.
To find the best learning towers for toddlers, we try on ease of assembly, construction quality, stability and evaluated how easy it was to clean the unit. We also took account of any additional features, like if the learning tower had a step up, adjustable heights, attachments or other modules.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A LEARNING TOWER?
“In a busy kitchen, a learning tower can help children safely access the work surfaces and feel more on level with adults, which is good for confidence,” says Amanda Gummer, a Ph.D. in neuropsychology. “I love that learning towers allow my kids to more carefully watch as my husband cooks,” Rothman says. “We use them for science experiments and hand-washing, too.”
ARE LEARNING TOWERS SAFE?
Always adhere to the age and weight specifications provided by the manufacturer, but many have a starting age limit of 18 months and up, Rothman says. “Every child is different, and parents know best whether or not a learning tower is intellectually and physically developmentally appropriate for their child,” she suggests. “I make sure to use one with a safety net with my 18-month-old and turn the open side against the wall or counter so he can’t crawl or accidentally fall out.” And with her older toddlers, she lets them crawl in and out freely since they have the approach how to keep kids safe in a learning tower.
To maximize security when using a learning tower, Rothman recommends the following:
- Regularly inspect the unit to make sure all parts are appropriately fastened and screwed tightly and that there are no splinters or visible damage.
- Sign up for recall notifications and be mindful of what is near or within reach (i.e.: Can they hoist themselves onto the table? Are dangerous objects like knives or the stove within reach?)
- Remember that parental supervision is essential.”We remind our children they can’t move the learning tower,” says Rothman, “but alas, they do still try!”
- Make sure it provides sufficient protection for your child. There’s no point in using a learning tower if the top bar is below the child’s knee.