Once your child is old enough to begin managing things by themselves (think going potty, washing their hands), it’s time to let them have a bit of autonomy with a step stool. This could be anything, such as going to the toilet alone, then washing hands afterward — experts recommend using them during toilet training. Perhaps they want to help out in the kitchen, making some cookies or decorating a pizza.
What features of a step stool does my child need?
While the main factor is picking a stool that’s sturdy and safe, don’t forget that you need to match it to intended tasks, and even aesthetics. Either way, a step stool will give your toddler those extra few inches to reach new heights. Let’s go over a few features first, before you drop everything and rush out to buy one.
While most people only think of stools for the bathroom, toddlers love to flex their independence and do all the things adults do throughout the home. A step stool can be used to lift your child to counter top height while working in the kitchen, give independent access to items in closets or storage, give them access to turning the lights on and off, help them in and out of a larger bed, and of course, use the big toilet and sink.
Pairing the stool with your goals is a good way to make sure you’re picking the right product in your home. Depending on the space available in your home, you may find that owning more than one stool is a better investment — keeping them dedicated to specific areas (i.e. bathroom vs. kitchen vs bedroom vs playroom).
Safety is, of course, a top priority, especially when it comes to our babies. Toddlers often act as though they have ants in their pants — wiggling or jumping. Fortunately, most step stools for toddlers do come with the following safety features.
A step stool for a toddler should feature non-skid feet, support the child’s weight, be sturdy and ideally have rounded edges at minimum. Toddlers like to do everything themselves, and are also prone to impulses, like jumping up and down or moving too quickly in socks. Thus, additional safety features like non slip surface included are great, but you can also add non slip stickers to a step stool if the one you like doesn’t include it.
- Non-slip surface: This is important as it keeps your toddler from sliding off. You can find this on the top surface where they place their feet. It’s generally some type of rubber — some can be difficult to keep clean, but they’re worth it.
- Non-skid feet: Yes, toddlers wiggle, a lot, and the stool may glide under their feet, sending them crashing to the floor. The non-skid feet are the same concept as above, they’ll keep the stool from slipping away.
If assembly is required, be sure that there aren’t any raw edges or exposed screw or nail heads which can lead to scratches. And any pieces that must be connected should fit snuggly to prevent wobbling which can cause a child to lose their balance.
Lastly, many families like fold flat step stools like this one. However, the top isn’t the most sturdy if a toddler decides to jump on it, and little fingers may get pinched when folding and unfolding it.
Height and Stability
When choosing a step stool you need to consider the height you’re looking to comfortably lift your child too, as well as their height, and whether or not you want the option to adjust the height as your child grows.
In general, for toilet use, a 10.5″ step stool is typically suitable for short toddlers but may be a little too short for independent sink access, and a 5″ step stool is suitable for taller toddlers on the toilet, but they may need a taller one for sink access. For counter tops, like at the sink or in the kitchen, a good rule of thumb is: 18″ for children 28-32″ tall, 15″ for children 32″-38″ tall, and 12″ for children 38-44″ tall.
Folding vs. Permanent
If you’re tight on space, opting for a foldable step stool may be a good option. However, if you have the space, we recommend a permanent structured step stool for the additional safety.
- Fold flat step stools can pinch little fingers, and they also have more “weak points” that can break or cause injury with toddlers who can be a little rough or wild at times.
- Permanent step stools can be just as lightweight as foldable ones, at comparable prices, but with much needed sturdiness to support a toddler’s urges.
While not a requirement, if you don’t like the idea of purchasing multiple stools around your home, looking for a stool that can work in more than one location in your home is a good idea.
This might not be practical for everyone depending on varying object heights across your home, but it can help to save space if you have a smaller home. For example, an adjustable-height or multi-step stool that can pull double duty for potty training for a toddler, used as a squatty potty for adults, then used as a bench for getting dressed, or in the kitchen to lift toddler to counter top height can be a smart investment.
A toddler step stool often becomes a permanent fixture in the home, so taking into account the aesthetic, just like any piece of furniture, can create a nice environment. Beyond that, you’ll want to consider the style of the step stool functionally speaking. Does it have 1 step or 2 steps? Can it be stacked or folded? Do you want handrails or low enough to slide under a toilet bowl?
Additionally, some step stools include storage which can be helpful in small spaces with limited storage solutions that gives a toddler independent access to their items.
Other Points to Consider
If you live in a bigger house or apartment, it’s probably better to invest in two-step stools. That way, a tall one can be in the kitchen and a shorter one in the bathroom. You won’t have to drag it around and it’s always there when you need it — problem solved. You should also make sure it isn’t too narrow for your child to stand on safely, or too wide to fit in confined spaces.