Toddlers: they’re cute, cuddly, and … short. They can’t reach the sharp scissors on that high shelf (which is probably a relief for you, anyways). But, they also can’t reach the sink to wash their hands and brush their teeth, or the kitchen counter-top to help you bake cookies.
Yes, you could technically have them stand or kneel on a chair, but that’s definitely not the steadiest or safest of perches for them.
Enter the step stool: a cheap, simple piece of equipment that most parents wouldn’t want to be left without.
There are plenty of varieties out there for you to choose from, ranging from colorful plastic step stools emblazoned with your kid’s favorite characters to sturdy wooden step stools that’ll last for years to come.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the key considerations you should think about when in the market for a toddler step stool, as well as discussing several options we think are worthy enough for you to have a look at.
Compared to pricier furniture, such as your child’s crib or the glider you use in the nursery, a step stool purchase might barely seem worth thinking about.
However, given that it’s likely to be in use multiple times a day – and that a tumble could have some very nasty consequences – you do want to be sure that you’re getting something both effective and safe for your child.
Ready? Let’s kick this off by having a quick look at what we believe to be some of the best toddler step stools of today!
Best Toddler Step Stools – A Quick Look At Our Top 7 Recommendations
- Handy Laundry Folding Step Stool
- Nickelodeon Paw Patrol Skye and Everest Step Stool
- Nickelodeon Paw Patrol Step Stool
- KidKraft Wooden Two Step Children’s Stool with Handles
- Guidecraft Classic Kitchen Helper Stool
- Potty Toilet Seat with Step Stool Ladder, (3 in 1) Trainer for Kids & Toddlers
- Fantasy Fields – Froggy Thematic Kids Wooden Step Stool with Storage
Note: When clicking on any of the above links, you’ll go to the product listing pages on Amazon, where you can read further information, see current prices and read customer reviews.
What Is a Step Stool?
Ordinary stools are designed to be sat on, not stood on. They might be great for your kid’s play table, but they could easily slip or topple if a child were to stand on them.
Step stools, on the other hand, are specifically designed to be stood on (obvious from the name).
Some are a single, flat step, while others have both a lower step and a higher step to them – which can be handy if your child needs to reach something quite high at times.
You can get both plastic and wooden step stools. If you’re on a tight budget, the plastic ones tend to be cheaper, but you may prefer the classic look and feel of a wooden one if you can afford it.
Why Should I Get A Step Stool For My Toddler?
If you’re still on the fence about this purchase, there are a lot of situations in which a step stool can come in very handy.
Reaching High Things Safely
If your child has books or toys on a shelf that they can’t easily reach, standing on a step stool is much safer than tottering on their tippy toes (or dragging a chair or side table over to stand on).
“Helping” In The Kitchen
Most toddlers love to stir cake mix, crack eggs, and generally get as involved (and messy!) as possible. Makes for some good entertainment for them, and you as well (if you manage to keep your sanity).
While some parents are happy for their toddler to stand on a low chair, this isn’t a good approach. A step stool is a much safer option.
Using The Toilet
Once your toddler is ready to graduate from a potty to the real thing, it’ll be much easier for them if you have a step stool they can use to safely get onto and off the toilet – and to rest their feet on while they’re using the toilet.
If their legs dangle in mid-air, that makes it harder to have a bowel movement.
Washing Their Hands
Whether it’s in the bathroom or the kitchen, your toddler will need a good boost to reach the sink and turn the taps on and off.
Getting children into the habit of regular hand washing is an essential part of teaching them all about proper hygiene practices.
Plus, it might make them more co-operative about toilet training! You never know.
Climbing Into Bed
Once your toddler has transitioned into sleeping in a bed rather than their crib, it may well be too high for them to easily clamber in without your help.
In this case, a strategically placed step stool could make all the difference in helping them become more independent about getting into bed.
Resting Their Feet While Sitting
Some toddlers and young children don’t like the sensation of their legs dangling in mid-air.
If that’s the case for yours, you could place a step stool in front of their chair when they’re at the dining table or watching TV, so they have something to place their feet on.
Speaking of which, you have baby-proofed your TV, right? Just checking!
Less Stress For You
Also, as far as what’s in it for you goes, a step stool can help cut down on the number of times you need to rush to your child’s aid and be there for them to get things done.
If they can reach that jigsaw without calling you for help each and every single time, or get onto the toilet independently, that could dramatically reduce the time you spend rushing around the house.
When is My Child Ready for a Step Stool?
Obviously, you’re not going to be introducing a step stool the moment your child has taken their first few tottering steps. You’ll want to wait a little longer until they’re a fairly confident walker.
There’s no point leaving it too late either, though. By the time your child is through kindergarten, the use you’ll get out of a step stool is going to be limited.
At some point between 18 months and 2 years is likely the best time to get your toddler a step stool. With that being said, you’re the parent here and you know your own child best. So, if you notice they could use one a little earlier than at 18 months of age, there’s no harm in doing that – as long as you follow safety guidelines, of course.
Look at guidance for specific step stools. Some will state, for instance, that they’re suitable from 18 months onward.
Also keep in mind that step stools will have a maximum safe weight that shouldn’t be exceeded. This tends to be fairly high, so that even older children (and small adults) are still likely to be safe using the stool. However, do make sure you read the manufacturer’s guidelines just to stay on the safe side and not take any chances.
What Should I Look For in a Toddler Step Stool?
You definitely don’t want a step stool that’ll skid across the kitchen or bathroom the moment your child tries to stand on it, or a stool that’ll slip easily if your toddler is as wriggly as most toddlers are.
If you’ll be using the step stool on a hard surface rather than on a carpet, look for one that has non-slip feet so that it stays exactly where it should.
Most ones on the market today do, but always double check first and never assume.
Simply having a step stool that stays put won’t help if your child goes flying off the moment they stand on it in their socks.
Most plastic step stools have a specially designed non-slip surface (with raised bumps) to reduce the risk children falling off and hurting themselves.
There’s no point having a step stool if your child refuses to stand on it!
You might well want to involve your child in the purchase and let them choose their own stool, or even decorate it with stickers.
Easy to Clean
If your step stool will be used in the bathroom or kitchen at all, it’s particularly important that it’s easy to clean – or else it’s going to feel like a time drain you most certainly won’t enjoy.
Look for one with a wipe-clean surface that you can safely use disinfectants on.
You don’t want a step stool that’s going to wear out after just a few months of use, and you certainly won’t want to buy one that your child will quickly grow out of quickly – whether that’s in terms of size or design.
Even if it means investing a little more money up front, buying a step stool that’ll last for years to come is better than having to continuously replace a cheap one.
Suitable for You Too
If you occasionally need a step stool too – to reach high shelves in the kitchen, for instance – then why not look for a stool that’s suitable for both you and your child?
This probably means choosing a stool designed for children, but with a high weight limit.
Just like your child should never do this, don’t be tempted to stand on a chair or anything else that could topple. Doing this not only sets a bad example for your child to follow, it also puts you and your child at risk of injury.
What Should I Avoid in Step Stools For My Toddler?
Broken or Missing Pieces
If you’re buying a step stool second hand or are having a friend/family member pass a used one on to you for free, be very careful to check it thoroughly for any broken, damaged or missing pieces.
Obviously, the same goes for new purchases as well, particularly those that are shipped to you. Make sure you look them over for any defects or damage before putting them to use.
Ones That Have Been Recalled
It’s not uncommon for step stools to be recalled from time to time due to safety concerns.
This SquattyPottymus stool was recalled in 2017, for instance, after reports of a couple of children falling and getting injured when the plastic “hat” detached from the top step.
It’s not just plastic stools that can be dangerous, either. Back in 2011, this two step wooden step stool was recalled by Target after causing numerous injuries to both adults and children when it collapsed under their weight.
Difficult for Child to Move
Sometimes, you’ll want a step stool that stays put and holds its ground well.
Perhaps you’ve positioned it by your child’s bed, for instance – or in front of the toilet – and you don’t want it to be moved.
Usually, though, you’ll want your child to be able to easily lift or drag the step stool to where they need it. So, make sure that you’re choosing a step stool that’s lightweight enough so they can easily move around.
Designed for Adults, Not Children
There are lots and lots of step stools out there for you to choose from – there’s certainly no shortage of options.
Some are specifically designed for adults rather than children.
While some of these may still be suitable for a small child, others (like the mini-step-ladder variety) are unlikely to be designed with a child’s needs in mind.
If you want a stool that can be used by both you and your child, look for a step stool that supports your weight too.
What Different Types of Step Stools Can I Choose From for My Child?
There are plenty of different types of step stools out there for you to choose from, and it’s worth shopping around to find something that will be a perfect fit for both your child’s needs and yours.
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of step stools that you could choose from.
Stools with One Step
The simplest type of step stool has a single rectangular step and can be stepped on from either side.
It’s normally symmetrical in shape, and it could be made from plastic or from wood.
If all you’re looking for is a simple stool to help your child reach the bathroom sink, this is probably what you should opt for, as you likely won’t need anything more advanced or complicated.
Stools with Two Steps
Two step stools have (obviously!) two steps, but at different levels. Your child can step onto the lower step first, then onto the higher step.
These are ideal if your child needs to reach higher places, such as the kitchen counter-top, perhaps.
Very young children might find them a little tricky to use, though, and you might not want to risk having them toppling from fairly high up.
There are plenty of step stools out there that fold flat – usually meant to save space when not in use, or to make it easy for you to pop them in the trunk of your car when going to grandma’s or heading on vacation with the kids.
These are best avoided for small children, though, as it’s very easy for fingers to get trapped while folding/unfolding the stool. They also tend to be less sturdy than solid models.
These stools are designed to fit around the base of a toilet – they’re U-shaped, with space for your child to rest their feet.
If you want to keep a stool readily available to help your child climb on and off the toilet with ease (and give them something to steady their feet against while using the toilet), this could be a great solution.
They won’t really work anywhere else in your home, though!
Stools That Grow with Your Child
Some step stools are designed to be adjusted as your child grows. You can move one or more steps to a higher or lower position as needed, or convert between one and two steps.
If you want something that’ll last for years and your little one won’t outgrow anytime soon, this might be a good option to look into – though it’s likely to mean a higher initial outlay.
The “learning tower” is a slightly different type of step stool than the ones we’ve covered so far.
It has a larger footprint than a normal step stool, and has a wide bar at the back (or sides that your child can grip) to make it extra safe – even for young toddlers who aren’t always steady on their feet.
This also means the tower can be fairly high, with two or three steps, whilst still remaining safe.
It’s a Montessori concept, but you don’t have to be following a Montessori educational philosophy to use one! It can definitely be one of the pricier options, though – that’s for sure.
Best Toddler Step Stools – A More Detailed Look At Our Top 7 Recommendations
Give your little one everything they need to reach those hard to get to places – while doing so safely and securely – with these toddler step stools.
Handy Laundry Folding Step Stool
This simple budget-friendly step stool can support both kids and adults, making it a great all-round option if you want to use it to reach the top shelf of your closet or the top of the cupboards in your kitchen.
In other words, it’s not just something your toddler can use for help, it’s also something you can use for help as well.
It’s light but strong, and you can easily fold it and stash it out of the way when it’s not in use. So, it’s also a good step stool to get if you’ll only want to use it every now and then.
If your little one needs a boost to help Grandma in the kitchen, for instance, this could be a handy purchase to keep at her house – as opposed to something you always need to take with you whenever coming over for a visit.
It’s 9” high, which should be enough to give your toddler or preschooler a good boost without being so high that they can easily fall.
There are three different colors available for you to choose from as well: black, pink, and white. All of them come with a spotty design on the top that provides extra texture to help prevent slips and falls.
- Budget-friendly buy – great if you need to keep costs down, or if you only want it for occasional use.
- Lightweight and easy to carry around.
- Folds neatly and can be stored in a narrow space (e.g. in a closet or between kitchen cabinets).
- If you’ve got a large diaper bag, you could potentially fit this inside to make public toilet visits easier for your little one.
- If you’re looking for something that was exclusively designed for toddlers and kids, you’ll likely be better off considering another option. This is more of a one-size-fits-all option for the entire family, adults and little ones alike.
- Could easily trap little fingers (or your own fingers!) when folding.
- Doesn’t lock open, so could potentially collapse while in use, especially if someone heavy stands in the center.
Nickelodeon Paw Patrol Skye and Everest Step Stool
This cute step stool is bright pink, and includes Skye and Everest from Paw Patrol – perfect for a Paw Patrol loving little girl (or a little boy who happens to be into pink).
It has a rubber top with a textured pattern to prevent your little girl from slipping off, and there are also rubber feet to ensure that it stays firmly anchored to the ground.
It’s lightweight and easy to carry around, so even a young toddler will be able to move this on their own – which is pretty essential if you have a little one who likes to be independent (or you just don’t want to have to help whenever they need to use it).
Because it’s designed for toddlers to use independently, it’s not especially high (just over 5”). This means that it’s perfect if your little one just needs a small boost.
On the other hand, if you’ve got a short toddler and a high sink, for instance, you might need something a little higher than that.
Although it’s definitely designed for kids, it’s also suitable for up to 200lbs in weight – so you might well be able to use it yourself for a little boost too!
- Slightly curved, making it a great option to fit around the base of a toilet.
- Strong and sturdy enough for a child (or even a smallish adult) to stand on safely.
- Has non-slip feet and a non-slip surface to keep your little one safe.
- Great choice for Paw Patrol fans, as it features characters Everest and Skye.
- Affordable option – particularly good if you don’t think you’ll be using it for very long.
- Fairly low (5”), so do make sure that it’ll be high enough for your toddler to reach if they’re using the toilet or standing on it to reach the sink.
Nickelodeon Paw Patrol Step Stool
This bright red Paw Patrol stool features Ryder and the pups, and just like the “Skye and Everest” stool, it’s slightly contoured so it can easily fit around the base of your toilet.
It’s a great choice for boys or girls who love the Paw Patrol characters.
It’s the same size as the pink stool, too: a touch over 5” high, making it a great choice if you don’t want your little one tottering around on something high up.
The top is covered with blue textured rubber to help stop your child from slipping off, and there are rubber feet too, which help this stool stay where it’s put.
The stool itself is a good size for toddlers to stand on: they can shift around a bit without falling off, simply because it’s fairly big.
It’s also suitable for weights up to 200lbs, so you can use it yourself if you’re under that weight limit.
As of this writing, you may find that it comes in a little cheaper than the pink Paw Patrol stool, so if you’re on a very tight budget, you might want to opt for this one instead.
With that being said, and seeing that prices can change anytime, please double check the prices yourself to make sure this is still the case.
- Strong stool made from thick material that can support up to 200lbs of weight.
- Bright, colorful design with Ryder and the pups from Paw Patrol on the front.
- Contoured so that it’ll fit around the base of a toilet for potty training.
- Textured non-slip surface and non-slip feet will prevent falls.
- Budget-friendly option if you don’t want to splash out on a pricier step stool.
- Not very high (5”), so may not work well if your toddler is fairly short – particularly for them sitting on the toilet
- Not the most durable option, as it might break quite easily if it’s dropped.
KidKraft Wooden Two Step Children’s Stool with Handles
This attractive wooden two-step stool makes it easy for little ones to reach things that are quite high up.
The top step is 13” high and the lower step is 6”, so it’s a good option if you want your child to be able to help in the kitchen or easily reach a sink (or similar).
The classic white design wouldn’t look out of place in any home, so you won’t have to worry about it ruining the decor and general look in just about any room its in.
Also, there are handles at the side so your child can pick it up and move it on their own. It’s worth noting that it’s fairly heavy, though, so you may find yourself moving it for them if they’re still quite small.
It comes flat packed, but isn’t particularly challenging to assemble. All in all, you should be able to have this ready to go in under half an hour.
The manufacturer recommends that you add non slip pads beneath if you’re using it on a tiled or wooden floor, so keep that in mind for your child’s safety!
- Made of wood rather than plastic – which you might prefer for environment or aesthetic reasons.
- Classic, plain white design that would work with any décor.
- Has two steps to help your little one stand high enough to reach pretty much anything that you’ll want them to reach.
- Designed to be easy to clean – and you can fairly easily add non-slip pads, too.
- No built-in slip protection on the feet of the stool, and no textured rubber surface at the top. So, you may have to add non-slip pads and tape.
- Back of the stool is angled for stability, which is a good thing – but that does mean there’ll be a fairly large gap between the top step and whatever the stool is placed against.
Guidecraft Classic Kitchen Helper Stool
This folding step stool has an adjustable platform (15” or 18”) plus sides and a bar at the front so that your little one can’t slip off easily.
The sides allow your child to grab hold if they feel wobbly or just want something to grip onto. They have cut out shapes so your child can easily grab hold of them when getting up and down from the step stool.
It’s definitely not the cheapest toddler step stool out there, but it’s designed for exceptional safety in mind, with a platform that fixes into place with a clip, as well as a large non-slip base.
There’s also a “keeper” that you can fix on the back for toddlers (or any child who still needs the highest platform setting).
If you’ve ever come across the Learning Tower or have tried it before, this is quite similar, but not quite so large. Plus, you can fold it up for storage.
It’s easy to assemble, and you could potentially fit anti-slip pads to the top if you’re concerned that your little one might wobble around too much on the smooth wood.
Your child should be able to climb in without help, even if they’re quite small, so if you struggle to lift them, that could be a major advantage. Just make sure they don’t try to climb up the outside of the Kitchen Helper!
- Safe for even quite unsteady toddlers, as unlike most toddler step stools out there today, this one has sides to grip onto.
- Folds up for easy storage when not in use (a feature which other similar stools don’t have).
- Fairly lightweight (given its size and design) – which makes it easy for you to slide or carry around.
- Interior platform can be adjusted to two different heights, so you can lower it once your child is tall enough.
- A budget-friendly option when compared to many similar designs and toddler step stools with similar features.
- If you’re specifically looking for a cheap toddler step stool, this might not be it. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll be sacrificing added safety and other useful features when opting for many other inexpensive toddler step stools.
- If not careful, it might be possible for a small child to slip out of the open side.
Potty Toilet Seat with Step Stool Ladder
This isn’t just a step stool, it’s a toilet seat too!
You can adjust the step part (to two different levels) so that your little one can easily rest their feet on it while using the toilet – and there are handles for your child to grip onto as well.
If you’re potty training and want something that you can use at home and on the go, this is well worth a look.
It’s lightweight and folds up, and since it incorporates both a toilet seat and a step at the same time, you won’t need to carry around two different items with you.
You’ll need to assemble it, but that should be a fairly straightforward process. It’s suitable for all standard-size toilets (between about 13.8” and 17”).
There’s also a very useful “one hand collapse” feature so you can easily pop it down when it’s not in use.
- All-in-one design with a toilet seat, handles, and a step for your little one to use.
- Great way to promote independence and confidence during the potty training stage.
- Easy to take around when you’re travelling, as it’s light and folds up.
- Bright and colorful – and easy to wipe clean.
- Good price, especially given that it serves a dual purpose.
- Might feel a little flimsy, and the step can be quite narrow. To stay on the safe side, you’ll want to stay with your child and keep an eye on them while they’re using this.
- Won’t necessarily fit every toilet, as it’s not exactly “universal”. So, if you have a high or oddly shaped toilet, this might not necessarily work well for you. Make sure you get all your measurements right before purchasing this.
Fantasy Fields – Froggy Thematic Kids Wooden Step Stool with Storage
This fun and colorful wooden step stool has two steps at different levels to help your little one climb up and reach high things.
Besides the fact that it’s a great step stool, this is also suitable for use as a chair – and you can open up the hinged lid to store toys or other bits and pieces inside, too!
The top step is 12” off the ground, which is high enough for your little one to reach pretty much anything you’d want them to get to.
It’s definitely not a budget buy, but it’d look great in just about any room you’d put it in (particularly in a bathroom, due to the “pond” design scheme) and could make a lovely gift for a friend or family member you know might need one over at their house.
If you or your child are not too keen on the froggy design, you’re not stuck with just that one – there are other options available too. For example, there’s the Dinosaur Kingdom, Enchanted Woodland, and Sunny Safari (all of which use non-toxic paint).
With each design, the wood is sealed and coated so that it’s easy to wipe off any dirt or spills.
You’ll need to assemble it yourself, but it should be pretty easy to put together, and is not a complicated task to do at all.
- Several designs to choose from, all beautifully painted. If you’re anything like me, you’ll likely want to keep this for years just to look at it and smile.
- Coated to resist spills and water damage.
- Has a storage compartment under the back (higher) step for you to keep toys and bits and pieces in.
- Two-step design makes it easy for your child to safely reach things on high shelves, the bathroom sink, etc.
- Strong and well-built: will hold up to 100lbs, which should last your child a good while.
- Stool won’t sit flush against walls or cabinets, due to a wooden stop behind it that prevents the lid from opening too far.
- Sometimes, the screw holes may not be well aligned, though the seller is known for their good customer service and should be able to replace any defective products promptly when informed about them.
How Many Step Stools Should I Buy For My Toddler?
Since most step stools are quite inexpensive nowadays – ideally, you’ll want one for each floor of your house. In other words, you want at least one for downstairs and at least one for upstairs.
You might want to buy different types of step stools for different rooms as well. Perhaps an easy wipe-clean stool for the bathroom, an attractive wooden one for the living room, and a two-step stool for your child to use when reaching the high kitchen counter.
Tips on Using Your Toddler’s Step Stool Safely
Tip #1: Ideally, don’t let your toddler use the step stool unsupervised, especially in rooms like the kitchen where they could access food, drink or cleaning products that are supposedly out of reach.
Tip #2: Don’t leave the step stool somewhere you can easily trip over it. If your child uses it in the kitchen, for instance, make sure it gets stowed away before you catch your foot on it while cooking dinner.
Tip #3: Your child should only sit or stand on the step stool – not jump, rock, hop, or anything else. Make this a firm rule from the start and, if your child is old enough to understand, explain why you’re setting these rules. (Hint: it’s for their own good!).
Tip #4: Don’t let the step stool be used as a toy. If it’s turned upside down on the living room floor as a “bed” for the teddies, it’s not going to be easily accessible when your child needs to use it to wash their hands.
Tip #5: Clean the stool regularly, especially if it has a “bobbly” non-stick surface where dirt can easily get caught in the crevices. This obviously goes double for a step stool that’s used in the bathroom: you’ll want to disinfect it on a frequent basis because of all the obvious reasons.
Tip #6: Regularly inspect the stool for any cracks or loose parts. The more complex the design, the more carefully you’ll want to check it.
Tip #7: Store the stool safely when not in use. If it’s the folding type, keep it out of reach and only allow adults to unfold/fold it. It’s very easy for your child to get their fingers caught in a folding stool.
Tip #8: Never place the stool on top of anything else (e.g. on a table or stacked on another stool) to reach even higher. Don’t encourage children or any other adult to do this, as it isn’t safe and could easily result in a nasty fall.
Tip #9: Don’t allow older children or adults to use the stool unless they’re under the weight limit set by the manufacturer. Keep in mind that even if it holds their weight without breaking, it may still have been weakened by them standing on it.
Wrapping it Up
The right step toddler stool could make a surprisingly positive difference to your family life.
If your toddler can use the toilet and wash their hands independently, that could free up your time, result in less stress for you and give them a real sense of pride in what they’re able to do on their own.
If they can help in the kitchen without you having to shift everything off the counter-top and down to their level, you might even be able to enjoy having a “helper” a bit more often!
Although toddler step stools can be bought for just a few dollars, going with the cheapest option you can find is not always the smartest move to make.
It’s worth having a good look around – and potentially spending a bit more – to make sure you get something that’s the perfect fit for your child, and even possibly for you too!
Product photos: © Amazon.com
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