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The One Toy That Every Child Needs - A Play Kitchen

20/05/2013 14:48 BST | Updated 20/07/2013 10:12 BST
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It's a dream of private schooling in the future or toys to play with now! Well, that's how I see it. Parents these days are struggling to make ends meet. It's harder than in our parents' days. So, with that in mind every purchase has to be a considered one. I have only bought a few toys for Alexander. I say 'few' but his bedroom is filling up far too quickly anyway!

He is now 18 months old, unbelievably. I worry about everything. Does he have the right toys to help his development? Does he have enough toys? Should he still be playing with the toys that he's had for the last year? It's ridiculous of course and I know it!

After much research and lots of input from my au pair on what he plays with most at the drop-in we settled on one very big and important acquisition - a kitchen. Some of you might be a little surprised. No workbench? Something more masculine? Well, it is a blue kitchen. It's actually a beautifully designed and made, wooden blue kitchen from one of my favourite shops the ELC, not just because it contains the words 'early' and 'learning' in it's name but because I trust them. I know that whatever I choose from there I can be safe in the knowledge that it has already been carefully vetted by their buyers. It stops me from buying every shiny, plastic thing in sight for my previous little one and keeps shopping more focused! Well, someone needs to!

Now, a word of warning for all parents buying a kitchen and I'm sure that will include the vast majority because we all secretly want a Nigella or even better and more relevant in my case, a Jamie Oliver, in the family -ok, he's annoying but he does 'good' and has a huge business empire to support his ever-expanding family (and waistline)! If you choose to go with the authentic  and truly gorgeous-looking wooden kitchen, the one that is beautifully crafted and almost a real kitchen in miniature, then you need to hire a kitchen fitter! I'm joking, don't worry but you will need a good half an hour or more to put the kitchen together so manage expectations of excited kids wisely. We offered the box that it came in as a boat and Alexander sailed the high seas very happily whilst Mr Pregnantcitygirl got to work with his drill. Watching this kitchen come to life was a real joy. The craftsmanship really is spectacular and all the adult couldn't wait to see it up and ready to be played with, let alone our toddler.

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The Early Learning Centre offer a vast selection of children's kitchens. All with the same aim in mind, to aid in a child's development. It spurs their imagination, helps with confidence and gives an opportunity to interact thus being great for communication skills. our one has a hob, an oven and a microwave, a chalkboard, a chopping board and work surfaces- just like a real kitchen. The retro-styling of the wooden kitchen means that it isn't too garish and will wear well for a few years to come, It also has loads of storage for the brilliantly designed and beautifully crafted wooden or plastic accessories that you can buy to go with it; tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and fish-all velcroed together so that your little one can learn how to cut them with the knives in the sets. So let the cooking begin!

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