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I have so many fond memories of standing on a chair and helping my parents in the kitchen as a kid. Even before I had my daughter, I'd pictured baking holiday cookies and making homemade pasta sauce with my own kids helping me in the kitchen.
But those images in my head always involved much older kids — kids who can actually help in the kitchen. I never pictured a young toddler standing at the kitchen counter with me, though my daughter apparently has a different picture in her mind.
She loves to learn and is always interested in what I'm doing, so if I leave her to play on the floor while I'm cooking or baking, she's not a very happy camper. She's only 12 months, so it's definitely not safe to have her stand on a chair by the counter.
Enter the Guidecraft Kitchen Helper. It's an enclosed adjustable kitchen stool that safely puts my daughter right at the counter with me, and it's been a total game-changer.
Before I got the Kitchen Helper, I'd attempt to cook meals with one hand while I held my daughter in the other. This wasn't easy or safe, especially when I was near the stove or I needed to use a knife. Now she gets to see everything I'm doing while I have both hands free, and she's happy and entertained the entire time.
Setup and design
The Kitchen Helper took less than 10 minutes to assemble out of the box.
The entire product is made of solid, sturdy wood. The stool folds up quickly and easily when I want to store it, and takes less than a minute to unfold and set up when I'm ready to use it. I can even set it up with one hand if I'm holding my daughter in the other.
The stool comes with a non-slip mat for kids to stand on while in the stool and a mesh covering for the open side of the stool where kids would step in or out. Once my daughter gets big enough, we'll take this off so she can climb in and out on her own, but for now, it helps keep her safe and secure in the stool.
The Kitchen Helper comes in five different colors, so you can choose the one that best matches your kitchen. We chose white. I like the design because it looks more like a piece of adult furniture but still has some cute features to keep kids entertained, like shape cutouts on the sides (some cons for those later), a little chalkboard on one side, and a little whiteboard on the other side. Since my daughter is still so young, she hasn't used these yet, but I could see them being fun for her to play with when she gets older.
For now, my daughter loves watching me from the stool while playing with bowls and measuring cups. I also use the stool sometimes to feed her a little appetizer if she gets hungry while I'm still cooking dinner. I like that I can still supervise her while she's eating instead of having her run off to another room.
This stool has already made preparing meals so much less stressful, and I can tell that my daughter loves it, too. Now if I start cooking without her in the Kitchen Helper, she'll walk over to it and point at it.
When she gets older, she'll be able to use the stool to actually help me prepare ingredients and cook meals. It's so important for kids to learn the process of how food gets to the table, so this is a great product to start teaching that from a young age.
As much research as I did before buying this stool and as sturdy as it has been so far, there's always the possibility that Ellie could try to climb out or fall, so I always keep a very close eye on her. I'd urge you to do the same with this or any other product.
You also need to be very careful with what you put on the counter in front of the stool. You'd be surprised at how far those little arms can reach. Make sure you keep any dangerous, hot, or sharp items well out of arms' reach.
Potential cons to consider
The non-slip mat tends to fall off a lot when I fold the Kitchen Helper up to store it. This is more of a minor inconvenience, but it's something to consider.
I'm also not a huge fan of the decorative square, star, and circle cutouts on the sides because they're the perfect foothold for my little climber. If you're using this for a toddler, you'll need to be especially careful once they enter the climbing stage. Once she's a little bit older, I don't think this will be a problem.
The bottom line
I absolutely love the Kitchen Helper. Before I bought it, I was afraid it was going to be a waste of money, but it's been well worth it.
There are a few other options out there, including the Little Partners Original Learning Tower ($199.99), which has large openings on the side and may be better suited for older kids. Another option to consider is the UNICOO Kids Step Stool, which is under $100.
I went with the Kitchen Helper because I like how it's very enclosed compared to a lot of the other options. It's very sturdy and has already made it much more enjoyable to work in the kitchen. If you're struggling to get food on the table while taking care of toddlers and young kids, I highly recommend this enclosed kitchen stool for children.
Cons: Non-slip mat sometimes falls off during storage, cutouts on the side are perfect footholds for climbers