If you have a curious toddler, like I do, you probably spend a lot of time lifting them up and down from the kitchen counter. Or maybe you've even let them stand on a chair to help bake cookies or make snacks. If you're looking for a way to protect your back (and your toddler) from potential injury, a learning tower is the way to go.
Learning towers (sometimes called a kitchen tower) are normally a wood or plastic large step tower for toddlers and children to safely stand at counter height and be involved in daily activities such as baking, mixing, preparing food, hands-on situations, or any other fun activities. Learning towers encourage involvement, assistance, and help with self-confidence. They’re a practical investment and can be used for so many daily activities.
After testing seven different learning towers with the assistance of my 2-year-old-son, we think that the Little Partners Explore n Store Learning Tower(available at Amazon) is the Best Overall. If you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, the Sdadi Adjustable Height Kitchen Step Stool(available at Amazon) is also a great choice.
Here are the best learning towers we tested ranked, in order:
Sdadi Adjustable Height Kitchen Step Stool
Little Partners Explore n Store Learning Tower
Franklin & Emily Learning Tower
Guidecraft Tower Step-Up Kitchen Helper
Little Partners’ Kids Learning Tower
Simplay3 Toddler Tower
Craffox Kitchen Tower
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The Little Partners Explore n Store Learning Tower is a practical option for families looking for a well built learning tower that doesn’t take up much room but is sturdy and safe. It lifts your child up to counter height, and encourages interaction, exploration, and togetherness between children and parents. This 18 pound tower is made with layered birch and came in an attractive gray color which worked well for my kitchen. It has two little footprints that have a grip on them to make it easy for your child when going up and down. My favorite feature on this tower is the fold-up bottom step which makes it a perfect fit for under kitchen counters and islands. My son loved using his foot to pull down the step and I especially loved it for how little room it took up in my kitchen.
As for other features, it adjusts to three different heights to grow with your child, while many other towers only have two height adjustments. With a four sided railing and the two steps, I felt my son was safe in the learning tower but could still help out and participate in activities at counter height. The tower has a non-toxic, durable finish that cleans easily. I also loved its narrow design and the fact that I was also able to store it under my island overhang and, with the option to hide the step stool, it really did not take up any room at all.
There are not many cons, but once inside the tower there is not much room to move around because of its narrow design. The kick down step feature is great but I can see it being tricky to figure out for younger toddlers. There is also an extra wood support piece that sticks out at the bottom at the front of the tower, so unless you have an island with an overhang, there will be a little space in between the tower and the island.
Made from solid wood, the Sdadi learning tower is carefully coated with durable, nontoxic, lead-free coating. The four-sided railings provide support with your child inside and the additional base support legs attached at the bottom make sure there is no risk of tipping over. This learning tower was one of the tallest among the ones we tested out so while we were not able to store it under our island, it stood completely flush against the island and was very sturdy.
The coated finish on the tower makes spills easy to clean which I appreciated since my toddler often used the tower to eat his meals. Between the beautiful gray color, aesthetically pleasing and narrow design, I truly enjoyed the learning tower and it quickly became a necessity in our kitchen. I love how it has a built in step which makes it easy for any toddler or child to get inside safely by stepping into it. There are also anti-slip strips that are attached to the platform so once in the tower you don’t have to worry about your child slipping. While it’s sturdy enough to not fall over, my son was able to move the tower across the kitchen on his own which was also a plus. My husband and I could move it with ease and it did not take up much room in our kitchen.
As for the cons, the anti-grip attachment did tend to get a bit dirty but overall the benefit of no-slips is more important. While it may be different in other kitchens, it could be a disadvantage for some based on the fact it can’t be stored under the overhang on an island and the step stool does stick out more than other towers.
This is a perfect option for someone looking for a learning tower that is narrow in design but has the sturdiness to keep your child safe with each use.
Hi! My name is Michaela Crimmins and I live in Wakefield, Rhode Island with my husband, Matt, and two boys, Ryder (2 years) and Teddy (9 months). I work full time as a program manager for the University of Rhode Island Alumni Engagement team and am currently trying to balance work-from-home life with both kids at home due to the pandemic. My true passion lies in connecting with other moms and sharing my favorite products, which is what brought me to start my blog, Ocean State Mama. I love to share a real, inside look at what it’s like as a busy mom with two kids and share my favorite products, tips, and anything mom-related with others who can relate.
My husband and two brothers-in-law put together all seven learning towers. Box after box, it was interesting (and comical for me!) to watch them build each of the towers together as a team while I observed what the assembly process was like for each one. Some took five minutes and others took a half hour. The next morning and for the month that followed, we put a couple of the towers in our kitchen at a time for our son to test and then rotated them out.
For the testing process, we would invite our son to participate in an activity at the kitchen island and see what his experience was like when he used the tower. We looked at the following: if he had any issues getting in and out, if it’s safe and secure once he’s inside, if he can move around in it, if it has railings, if it has a step stool, can he move it around the kitchen, and if we can move it easily as well. Then we looked at the tower in general based on its design and size. We looked at how many height adjustments each one had, how tall it was, how much space it took up in our kitchen, and if we were able to store it underneath our kitchen island.
What You Should Know About Learning Towers
The size of your kitchen and how much storage space you have is a huge factor in purchasing a tower. If you have a large and open kitchen, you would be better off going with a bigger tower. The larger the tower, the more space your child has to move around in. If you’re going large, it generally would stay in your kitchen at all times since they’re harder to store, so you want to get one you truly love that works well with your space. On the flip side, if you have a smaller kitchen, I would suggest a smaller tower that won’t take up a lot of room and could also potentially be stored under your kitchen island or in a pantry.
The height of your kitchen island and counters is also something to consider before you purchase your tower. I personally like the learning towers that I’m able to store under my island overhang when not in use, and many of the towers were too tall to do that. I suggest measuring the height of your counters and island and then check it against the tower you purchase so you’ll know that it fits correctly.
Age and Weight Limit
Learning towers that are lightweight and easier to move often tend to have lower weight limits. If you're selecting a learning tower for an older toddler—or you want one that's going to last for quite a few years—you'll need to choose one of the larger models that can safely support bigger kids. Unfortunately, learning towers with higher weight limits also tend to be bigger and harder to store, which can be a problem if your kitchen is short on space.
Other Learning Towers We Tested
Franklin+Emily Toddler Tower
Franklin+Emily has built a beautiful and sustainable tower that’s both useful for your child but also aesthetically pleasing and won’t take up a lot of room in your kitchen. The Franklin+Emily Learning Tower is designed to give your little one the boost they need to explore their creativity, engage in everyday activities and gain autonomy in their learning journey. When I opened the box, I was extremely pleased to see the tower came fully assembled. All of the fastenings are hidden internally with an adjustable height platform. Some of the other towers took upwards of 45 minutes to assemble so this factor alone earned major points in my book! We pulled it right out of the box and could use it immediately. The tower is designed with clean lines and a modern design, it is constructed of high grade Baltic Birch plywood and finished with environmentally and kid-friendly finishes that can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth.
The Franklin+Emily learning tower has three adjustable platform heights at 12”, 15”, and 18” which is the standard among most on the market. At just 33 ⅜” tall, it was short enough to fit under the overhang on my island which I appreciated tremendously. It has non-marking, slip-resistant felt pads on the feet which makes it sturdy but also easy for my son or my husband and I to move around the kitchen. It has a leather safety strap on the back to provide extra security and it also adds an element of style into the design. Another feature I appreciate is that it is designed and fabricated in Brooklyn, New York. Since the towers are made to order, shipping does take approximately four weeks, but it's worth the wait.
As for the negatives, because the tower is so light, it is not as sturdy as others on the market. While I appreciate the look and design of the leather strap, my son would often hang on it when he was getting off of it so I was afraid it would rip off. While it’s a small and trendy design, there is no step stool feature so my son sometimes had trouble figuring it out at first.
If you have the space and are looking for a learning tower that can accommodate older children, the Guidecraft Kitchen Helper is a good option.The Guidecraft Tower Step-up Kitchen Helper was one of the larger learning towers we tested. Set up was a breeze and the directions were clear which gained points in my book. This sturdy step stool is designed to safely and securely elevate children to countertop height. It came in a beautiful white color and matched perfectly with our kitchen. The tower easily adjusts to two platform heights to grow with your child and has two hand-holds to assist in climbing up and down.
As for positive features, I truly liked the step up to the platform and out of all the learning towers we tested, this one was the easiest for my son to get in and out of. While it’s hard to store, it sat perfectly flush against our counters and looked great in my kitchen. Another plus is that it serves as a handy step-up for adults as well given its size which is useful for hard to reach items in your kitchen or other places among your house. It’s a solid piece of furniture and each time my son used it, I felt that he was safe and there was no chance it could tip over.
As for the cons, the learning tower is large like I mentioned. While I would recommend it for someone who has a large kitchen, it was bulky in my small raised ranch kitchen and took up a lot of space. The tower also does not have a back railing to support it so if you have a younger toddler who is not steady, there is a risk of falling off the back. My son had no issues with it, however, and once he learned how it worked, he was going up and down with ease.
If you have the space in your kitchen and are looking for a durable tower that will grow with your child for years to come, the Little Partners Kids learning tower is a fantastic choice. Designed by a Montessori school educator, the Learning Tower lifts your child to kitchen counter height to encourage interaction and togetherness between children and parents. The thing that comes to mind when thinking of this learning tower is durability. Out of every tower I tested, this one has the most stable and secure design, supporting up to 250 pounds. It’s crafted out of wood and has a beautiful design that looks great in your kitchen.
As for other features, the step stool adjusts to four different heights to grow with your child, which is the most out of any of the other towers. The tower features safety rails and handholds, and rounded edges offer additional security. Little Partners also offers add-on accessories you can purchase separately, like the Little Partners Silicone Play Mat which provides a non-slip platform to help prevent falls. You can also enhance the fun with the Little Partners Art and Education board attachment.
While this learning tower is extremely sturdy, it was the largest of the towers I tested and took up the most room. My son was not able to move it on his own, which can be a plus if you don’t want them to, however my son enjoyed moving the others to get his own snacks or choose where he wanted to go in the kitchen. I also had trouble moving it as well but that's due to its stable design.
If you are looking for a reasonably priced learning tower that is small in design and easy to move around the house, I would recommend the Simplay3 Toddler Tower. Simplay3’s learning tower is the smallest in design and lightest, weighing just 13 pounds. It was also the only learning tower made of plastic. From opening the box to setting it up in our kitchen for use, assembly was completed in under five minutes. It features three adjustable height settings to 18”, 15”, and 12”, which can be done by pulling the support out instead of using any additional tools. My son was easily able to figure out how to get in and out of the tower and it stood at a great height at my kitchen island at just 34.5”, allowing it to be stored under the counter when not in use.
As for other positive features, this learning tower is extremely lightweight and easy to store but also has non-skid pads on the bottom for added security. For a parent looking for a tower they could store in a pantry or underneath an overhang and use it when needed, this is a great option. You can easily move it all over the kitchen or take it to the bathroom for hand washing with no trouble. The plastic design makes it easy to clean if there are any messes, and it would be hard to damage it even with extreme use.
For the cons, the plastic may deter someone from purchasing if they are looking for a product that is more sustainable. Since it is so small, there is not much room for a child to move around once inside, and it was not as sturdy due to the lightweight plastic construction.
Craffox has designed a smart learning tower that has many uses for families with two pieces of furniture in one. The Craffox Kitchen Tower is a useful learning tower for toddlers and children with many features. My husband and I struggled with a few parts when assembling the tower, but overall it was fairly easy and the directions were detailed. The overall design is very cute with a picture of a bear’s smiling face on the side and I loved how it came in a natural wood. The tower weighs approximately 17 pounds, so it’s light enough to move around the kitchen or bathroom. The tower has rails on every side which makes it safe for kids to participate in an activity whether it’s washing hands, brushing teeth, or playing at the island. It is made of Baltic birch plywood, which is generally known for its durability.
As for other features, the tower is equipped with a blackboard surface for drawing which is an added bonus for kids who love to draw. When you open the clips on the side and fold down the upper part with one hand, it turns into a functional table that can be used by two children at a time Out of all the towers I tested, this is the only one that has two pieces of furniture in one. The tower stood flush against my island and was a great size—big enough for my son to get in and move around but not too large that it took up too much space in my kitchen.
As for the cons, I feel as though the tower could have had additional wood support pieces at the bottom to reinforce its sturdiness to make it safer. I didn’t feel completely comfortable letting my son on the tower without me close by. While the chalkboard is a cool feature, it did attract my son to draw on it with crayons whereas he viewed all the others strictly as pieces of furniture. Overall thoughts: Craffox has designed a smart learning tower that has many uses for families with two pieces of furniture in one and is just the right size for any kitchen.
Michaela Crimmins is a native Rhode Islander and graduate of Keene State College in New Hampshire. Working in Marketing her whole career, she was a Digital Marketing Specialist at Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski for five years before becoming a Program Manager for the University of Rhode Island Foundation & Alumni Engagement. Michaela currently resides in Wakefield, Rhode Island with her husband and two boys under age two, along with their golden retriever, Swagger. She has a true passion for connecting with other moms and sharing her favorite products. Follow her Instagram page and blog, Ocean State Mama for an inside look of her family's daily adventures and parenting resources.
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