Mud kitchens are effectively a mockup of a real kitchen often made from wood. It should have many of the features of a normal kitchen including taps, a hob, sink and perhaps even an oven. Depending on the size of the unit there will also be various prep surfaces that can be used for all sorts of things.
Mud kitchens encourage children to use their imaginations and enjoy water and mud to create and develop in many different ways. dont worry if you dont much like the idea of your kids getting super muddy, they can easily be used with just water or sand and water (and a whole host of other things - check out our messy play guide for ideas).
Imaginative play has the benefits of fostering creativity by allowing children to act out situations they wouldnt be able to in real life (not just yet anyway!)
It also helps with their problem solving and self regulation skills. For example a child may be playing with their friend and one of them has to decide what they are 'cooking'. This allows them to take turns and allow others to go first. Perhaps if they don't get their choice this time, the next time they play they can choose the recipe. A lesson that will serve them very well in later life.
Because there are so many potential benefits for your child from this style of play it is well worth making sure you do a bit of research in picking the perfect mud kitchen. As with buying any outdoor toy there are a series of specifications and criteria you will need to observe in order to find the perfect mud kitchen for your little one.
Choosing the right size
This may seem like a simple one but its really important that you buy the right sized mud kitchen for your child. This will help you enjoy the product more.
Look at the overall dimensions of the product and most importantly the surface height. Its not going to be much fun if your child is eye level with the sink (for example)!
We are commonly asked to recommend our mud kitchens based on age ranges. However, it is much more important to consider their height. Use a tape measure to establish a suitable playing surface height for your child. just above their elbow is a good starting point - this means theres room to grow, although if they are taller (or a sibling is) they wont lose out if they are a bit taller!
The overall dimensions are important for fitting the product into the area you want to use it in the garden. You also get an idea of how big the surfaces are for putting your pots, pans and mixtures on. The great thing about the mud kitchens is they do go flat up against a wall/fence or boundary so you can fit them in some of the smallest spaces.
Aside from space considerations, the size of your mud kitchen is also important for how many children can comfortably play with it. Our Triple Mud Kitchen for example can easily accommodate three children, whereas the single is better suited for one or two. Your child may have siblings or friends over to play with the kitchen so make sure you take the time to give this some thought.
Its also important to recognise that some mud kitchens have extending surfaces. Make sure you measure up so theres plenty of room for the slide out surfaces to extend fully!
Next you need to look at the features and areas the mud kitchen is divided into. Depending on your budget you will get more features and a larger playing surface as you go up in the range.
Quality mud kitchens will come with a working tap which you can connect to your garden hose. It is also great if it features a separate water dispenser and basin. The use of water in your play sessions is really important, so make sure these parts are substantial. Ideally the tap needs to be made of brass or a similar durable material.
Cupboards and Storage
So you are buying the kitchen as a fun play experience for your child. Have you considered the practical storage solution this can offer to you and your family as somewhere to keep all their little play bits? All the pots and pans, cups, chalk, watering cans and anything else that may otherwise be strewn around your lawn? Having shelves and/or cupboards in your mud kitchen can keep your garden or play area much tidier than it once was. So this is not just for the kids after all. Having lots of places to put all their bits and pieces right inside their play kitchen also means it is much much easier for them to find everything they need when they are outside playing - win win!
The basic areas such as the hob cooking surface are also an important consideration. Generally you will have two rings on your hob as standard with a small surface area to place objects on. However larger products will feature four rings - giving lots more surface area to have lots of different containers on the rings at once. Its also a nice feature to have knobs for the hob which gives for a more immersive experience when cooking up muddy mixtures.
Sliding drawers and play surfaces are also a fantastic feature. They allow more room to play by extending the kitchen surface. This makes them more suitable for multiple children to use. Sliding surfaces allow for the product to adopt a more compact size when the product is not in use. Many units will also hide the sink of the product when the panel is retracted which discourages children from using it when playtime is over.
Mud kitchens with chalkboards have an added element of imaginative play. They allow you to write down recipe ideas, shopping lists or your own creative drawings. Chalkboards are even more fun if you use several colours of chalk. Liquid chalk is also great for the more artistic - but slightlly harder to clean off!
Decorating your kitchen
It is also important to give thought to the overall appearance of the product. Ultimately you want your child to engage with the mud kitchen and stimulate their imagination. The appearance of the product needs to be appealing in order to get them to buy into this idea.
We would suggest when you have your choices narrowed down, show your child pictures and see which one they engage with. This isnt of course a requirement for surprise presents!
Our own mud kitchens are made from premium heat treated fir wood. This gives them a classic natural wood look which you will see from our photos looks terrific in the garden. It also serves as a blank canvas to paint the kitchen in any colour you wish. Our customers find it is easiest to do this before assembly.
Gettng creative with the overall design of you mud kitchen can further enhance the creative and imaginative skills of your child as they pick the colours for the main body of the kitchen and can even have the product inscribed with their name. There are so many Etsy sellers out there who can make personalised signs if you arent feeling like having a go at inscribing the house yourself!
We think the products already look great but you may find the process of decorating your kitchen with your child as engaging and enjoyable a process as the playtime itself.
Mud Kitchen Summary
There are three types of mud kitchens depending on size/features and they get bigger as you go up the price brackets. They are categorised as single, double and triple sized products.
The table below illustrates the sort of features you can expect from each of these categories to help your decision.
Mud Kitchen Type
69.5 x 63 x 37.5cm
87.5 x 80 x 45cm
110.5 x 90.5 x 43cm
Playing Surface Height
Cupboard and Storage
Shelves and Cupboards
To find out more information about any of the mud kitchens featured here, or any of our other mud and messy play range - click the button below.