Pretend play kitchen sets interest many children from toddler years into their school years. Children as young as 1 and as old as 8 may love to pretend to cook, but these ages have very different needs from their kitchens. A toddler may require only a few utensils and an oven to stay occupied, but an older child may feel that a complete kitchen allows for more realistic play. Younger children love toys that feature their favorite story and television characters. There are several plastic kitchen play sets designed for infants and younger toddlers that offer iconic characters and kitchen equipment in one package. Kids can enjoy playtime in the kitchen with Disney princesses, Dora the Explorer, Minnie Mouse, or Sesame Street characters. For older children who continue to express an interest in kitchen play, toys such as an or a may be appropriate for use under supervision. This may also be a good age at which to introduce children to the real kitchen, where play time can transition into a useful life skill.
Play kitchens seem a natural gift option for female children, but they are perfectly suited to males as well. Boys enjoy cooking up fun just as much as girls, and because so many successful chefs are men, parents and educators may wish to encourage imaginative kitchen playtime for boys as well. Several manufacturers offer pretend kitchen play sets that fit both boys and girls. Some feature bold primary colors, and others are painted blue, black, or gray for a more masculine look. A family wanting a pretty kitchen in which their princess can bake up royal treats will find no shortage of girlish play kitchens. Several options in shades of pink, purple, and red make finding a female-specific kitchen play set simple. However, neutral patterns are also available. These are perfect for families who have several children of separate genders who would enjoy playing with a kitchen. Many colors and patterns have a gender assignment that children recognize very early in their lives, so selecting a white, yellow, or brown kitchen may effectively eliminate the stigma that sometimes accompanies playing with a "girls' toy" or a "boys' toy."