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In 2021, we hacked our IKEA play kitchen into a functioning kitchen for Mila as her big Christmas gift!
Don’t have access to an IKEA? Or already have a play kitchen? This hack can be done on almost any kitchen! Make sure the sink is able to hold water, and that there is a space underneath the sink to house the water containers (I like it to also have the containers behind a door so it’s not accessible by my toddler). This kitchen from Hape should work, too! However, as I do not know the exact product dimensions of every kitchen out there, your kitchen may require different accessories! But the general idea remains the same.
Build your kitchen as instructed (if you haven’t already). But do not install the faucet it comes with or the shelves behind the door under the sink. There will be 2 holes on the kitchen counter directly behind the sink that you will use to feed the water pump tubing through.
Drill holes in your sink! Make sure they’re small enough that your child can’t throw things down them, but large enough that water will pass through at a fast enough pace that your sink won’t fill with water and overflow. Our sink required multiple holes to be drilled in it!
Fill one jug with clean water, and leave the other one empty. Place the 2 large water jugs underneath your sink. The jug with clean water should be placed in the back and the empty jug should be placed under the sink to collect dirty water. This method works well if you’re using your kitchen as a functioning space (to wash hands, help clean fruit for snacks, fill up glasses of water to drink, etc.), but does require you to refill the fresh water jug more often. You can use only one jug and have the water recirculating if you’d like for longer periods of play (pictured). Just know that this water gets dirty fast!
Place your funnel on top of the front jug, underneath the sink. The funnel is large so it should cover the entire base of the sink, to ensure that all water is caught and returned to the dirty water jug.
Feed the tubing from the water pump up through the holes on the counter and attach to the bottom of the pump. The tubing underneath the sink should be placed in the back jug (if you’re using it), or directly in the jug under the funnel (if you’re recirculating it)!
Attach the child lock to your door so your child cannot access the large containers of water under the sink. We’re using gallon glass jars under there…trust me on this one!
Press the button on top of the water pump, and play!
Pro tip: having a large beach or bath towel handy to set on the floor will save you a lot of clean up time after your little one is finished playing!