Giving Your Kids A Step Up: Comparing Our Two Favourite Step-Stools Towers
Whether it is washing the dishes or cooking, small children always want to be around their parents, to observe and participate in whatever activity is going on. Unfortunately for those little ones, standard counters and tables are too tall, causing frustration and often hyper-activity. The two children’s step-stool towers we review and compare in this article are fantastic solutions to this very common problem!
The Learning Tower, designed by Little Partners is by far the most popular model available on the market. Like most step-stool towers, the platform is height adjustable (four different positions).It uses a simple peg and notch locking system that only takes seconds to re-adjust. One of the advantages of this product is the use of a lip surrounding the platform to better prevent children from accidentally slipping out, particularly if water is spilt inside. While we like the intention behind this design feature, it should be noted that when using the highest level there is only a small 0.5” tall lip which is practically ineffective and actually could become a hazard for tripping or stubbing small toes.
Another notable difference from the other designs is the location of entry for the child. By incorporating the front and back horizontal panels, little room is left for a child to comfortably step onto the platform from the backside (as is common with many similar products). Each side has two foothold cut-outs and a large opening for easy access – the vertical sides of the large cut-out conveniently double as handrails when climbing. The unit also comes with a pair of support feet which improves the overall structure, but be careful not to trip on the protruding pieces; several customers have reported this being an issue.
The one major flaw of this design is that children sitting on the middle platform can easily fall out of the large side panel openings, expecting to lean back against a solid wall but instead falling backwards. This increased risk of head injuries is not only dangerous by easily avoidable by attaching fabric straps across each opening to catch a potentially leaning child.
Another small improvement we would like to see is the addition of felt foot pads due to the unusually heavy weight of this product. This would let parents and kids slide it around with little difficulty.
Available in multiple colours: Natural, White, Green, Brown, Black
You get what you pay for when it comes to quality with this product, as would be expected with its hefty price tag. All of the panels are entirely made out of high quality Poplar and Baltic Birch, which is a higher grade of plywood used in consumer products. The use of two solid side panels, large front and back stretchers and attachable feet make this design rigid, reliable and strong enough to support up to 500lbs!
As mentioned earlier, the retail price of this unit is significantly higher than its competitors, but still remains the most popular. The lowest available price is $209.99 on Amazon.com which is approximately $80 more than the next model.
The Kitchen Helper by Guidecraft has a slightly different design approach than is shown in the above model by Little Partners. Retaining most of the same functionality, this step-stool tower has the added benefit of being foldable for easier storage. As is with most folding furniture an unfortunate side effect is that the general structure of the piece is somewhat lessened. This is due to the two-part side panels not having the same strength as solid walls. The result is that the unit may feel a little more wobbly at times, even though the actual strength of the piece is still considerable – holding up to 125lbs.
Moving over to the front and back panels, you will find a large opening and single foothold for direct access to the central platform. The height of the foothold is just a little high for smaller children (18”), and should either be lowered or have a second one below. The standing platform can be adjusted to one of three different heights. Adjusting the height on this model is substantially more work when compared to the Little Partners model, due to the eight bolts in the platform that need to be unfastened manually. We see no obvious reason why a peg and notch system could not also work on this kind of design – apart from improved rigidity.
Some of the other features unique to this model that we enjoy are the fun shape cut-outs on the folding panels and the mounted chalkboard and white board on opposing sides. The drawing boards allow your child to customize their step-stool and provide another form of entertainment.
Available in multiple colours: Natural, White, Green, Red
Made from solid Beech and Birch plywood, you get a surprising amount of high quality materials for a considerably lower cost. To the dismay of several customers however, the quality of the hardware is not equivalent to that of the body. There have been multiple reports of bolts stripping and latches not holding the two divided panels securely in place – making the body rack from side to side. We would also like to see some felt pads on the feet.
Currently being sold on Amazon.com for only $129.95, this product is very competitive, despite the flaws that we have pointed out. When compared to other simple step-stools, the price is only higher by $30 on average; however this unit has many additional features. We would have easily given this piece 10/10 if the price were closer to $100.