A safe way to team up with your toddler in the kitchen.
By Kate Harvey
Research & test writer
Since my boy turned two, I’ve learnt to second-guess myself when there’s something I want to buy him.
There’ve been so many duds – the playmat that couldn’t be machine-washed, the thermometer he won’t let near him, and what was I thinking with a nasal aspirator? However, the Arc Assistant Learning Tower isn’t one of them.
The Learning Tower lets little ones stand up at the kitchen bench so you don’t have to hold them or perch them on the bench. When it popped up in my Facebook feed, I had visions of chopping veges while little Ed watched on. But I also wondered whether I could just pull his high chair up to the bench.
Alas, the marketing messages were too strong. The website claims the tower will “help increase your toddler’s daily brain development simply and seamlessly every day during their first three years when 80% of their brains develop”. Take my money!
The confirmation email said my Kiwi-made Arc Assistant would be going into production tomorrow “to be crafted especially for you” and would be with me within a fortnight. The package arrived well within the two weeks, before I’d even been sent the tracking number.
I waited until my husband took Ed out for a play at the park, so I could tackle assembly with no interruptions. My goal was to get it done before they’d be back in an hour (kitset furniture and I don’t have a good history), but within five minutes it was ready. No Allen key or screwdriver were necessary, all the pieces just slotted together.
Safe, secure and still a hit
As I lifted Ed up into the Learning Tower he looked very nervous, but after he realised he was standing up high a smile spread across his face. He gave it (and my nerves) a good shake test. It passed. He then tried to get up on to the kitchen bench, but there was nowhere for him to put his foot to climb. He was stuck. Perfect.
It’s been four months since we started using the Learning Tower and it’s become a special part of our kitchen. When it’s breakfast time, Ed runs over to be lifted up so he can help me put the peanut butter on his toast and watch me cut his fruit. I bake while he does little jobs, such as putting the muffin liners in the baking tin and blueberries into the batter. And I like that he can watch me cook dinner rather than me doing it while trying to keep an eye on him playing in the living area.
The downside that's also an upside
It’s heavy, something I despise when it’s time to mop the floors and I have to move it. I have to kind of pull it against my thigh and shuffle it where I want it to go. But it also gives me peace of mind that it’s not light enough that Ed could pull it on himself or topple it while he’s in there. He has it on the highest of the three platform heights at the moment. As he gets taller I’ll just need to lower the height – it’s good to know he’ll get a lot more use out of it. It comes with safety bungs that you put in the holes for the other platform heights so it can’t be climbed from the outside.
Cleaning is as easy as a wipe down with a soapy cloth. Crumbs do fall through a gap and sit on a piece called the front door lock (it’s a panel that slides under the standing platform). This can be easily pulled out and given a wipe too.
Despite my initial scepticism, the Learning Tower has become one of the best purchases I’ve made over the past couple of years. There’s something special about my boy being right up at the bench that wouldn’t be the same if he was just in his high chair and pulled up close. We can share the same bench space and he’s up higher, so can see everything that’s going on. It feels like we’re a team when he’s in it and there are more opportunities for him to learn.
Price: $269 + shipping Weight limit: 80kg
Fits under most kitchen benches
Flat packs for storage
3 adjustable levels
Made from marine-grade moisture-resistant fibre board with laminate
Buy from arcnzbaby.com
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