The Unexpected Baby Gift That Became My Favorite Thing in My Kitchen

published May 3, 2021
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(Image credit: FamVeld)

When my first child was born, my husband’s coworker gave us a wooden step stool as a baby gift. It was a beautiful: solid wood, about 12 inches tall, white with lavender treads and our daughter’s name carved in it in a sweet font. That’s nice, I thought, but why would anyone ever gift an apartment-dweller such a large gift?

Well, obviously she was an experienced mom!

Fast forward about a year, and it was probably the most-used item in the kitchen for my pint-sized sous-chef, who was always curious about what was going on up on the countertop and full of offers to “help” with whatever I was doing. We used it all the time, and some of my favorite kitchen memories — baking Christmas cookies, the time I asked her to toss the kale and she literally threw it in the air — have that step stool front and center.

So when my second child was about to turn one, it was time to get a second step stool (a recommendation from another experienced mom: always have two of everything!). We searched high and low for the exact same one, but it had been discontinued. I was upset. I wanted the girls to have matching stools! We went for the next best thing: a plain white one. We painted the treads a shiny bubble-gum pink so it would go with, but not match exactly, her sister’s lavender version. I intended to paint her name on it, just like the other one, but haven’t gotten around to it yet (that was five years ago).

These days, both step stools are pretty beat-up. The paint’s chipping off at the corners, and they’re never totally clean. But they’re still both in heavy rotation. My 6-year-old grabs a stool to work the salad spinner or put away dishes. Now that she’s 8, my older daughter’s tall enough to work at the counter, but if she’s really cooking — and these days, she has a few things she can make on her own — she pulls out her stool. And every time we bake, we park the stools at the corner of the kitchen island, so they can switch off with the mixer. 

What started as an unexpected gift turned out to be my favorite thing in the kitchen, because it allowed my growing girls to be my helpers and companions and learn their way around the kitchen, too.

Last year, my baby nephew turned one, and we knew just what to get him: his own wooden stool, treads painted teal-blue to match my sister’s kitchen island. We hope it brings her little chef as much joy as it’s brought my family.

Here are some other stools that we love:

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: How a $40 Target Find Became My Favorite Thing in My Kitchen