Much as with a well-used grownup kitchen, a child's play kitchen is only as useful as its accessories, and for many kids, a play kitchen's accessories are the best parts. Once you've got the basic units - stove, microwave, sink, and refrigerator - you're ready to spice up a play kitchen with all the necessary accoutrements.
Little chefs love to whip up gourmet "meals," but they can't do that without all the right tools. Play pots and pans, cooking utensils, bakeware, dishes and silverware are must-haves for every well-stocked play kitchen. Today's play cooking utensils come in a range of pretend and realistic materials, too, including plastic, stainless steel, enamel, silicon, wood and porcelain. Many are dishwasher safe so your kids can experiment with real food, and others are battery-powered to simulate grownup kitchen electronics.
If your kids aren't quite ready for real food, the world of play food is brimming with options suited to every taste. Wooden and plastic play foods are available in a variety of sets, and some do double duty as puzzles or food-group sorting games. Re-create the feel of a grocery store with wooden grocery items, or let your kids' kitchen be truly modern with wooden sushi sets.
Finally, outfit your children for culinary success with kid-sized aprons, oven mitts and chef hats. These items are practical for older, adventurous kids, and they'll come in handy should you invite kids into your adult kitchen to help prepare a family dinner.
For now, plastic utensils and food, and chef's hats and aprons may all seem like fun and useful play kitchen accessories. They also may be preparing your child for the day he can become "Mom's little helper" in the real ktichen.