And she loves it.
I have been cooking dinner with Bean at my feet for a while now. She has a set of play food and play pans and access to the tupperware cabinet. But as she gets taller and more inquisitive, I've been getting more and more nervous about her roaming the kitchen below hot pans and near a hot oven. Her dad doesn't get home from work early enough to help distract her during this window of time, so I needed another solution.
I read about the Fun Pod on Liz Lamoreux's blog recently. Her daughter is just a little older than mine and at about the same developmental stage. A couple of local mom friends with slightly older toddlers have the Learning Tower, but I was worried about the open sides. Bean isn't quite walking yet, and I was afraid she'd slip and fall out. Or climb in when I didn't want her to have access to the counter. Also it has a huge footprint and I do not have a large kitchen.
The Fun Pod was exactly what I was looking for. It allows Bean to be up at counter height with me, safely, and only when I want her there because she can't climb in and out on her own. It is sturdy and stable, but small enough that I'm not tripping over it. It is short enough to fit under the counter when not in use. The Pod can be adjusted as she gets taller so it should be useful until she is several years old.
Our kitchen isn't arranged in a way that allows her to be very close while I'm actually cooking, though I have let her play in the sink behind me once and I imagine it will be great for her to help me clean up when she's a bit bigger. Usually I set her up on the opposite side of our penninsula, in the dining room, but facing me. She can color, play with blocks, or eat a snack while I cook. She's not underfoot, is safe from the hot stuff, and can see me. She also asks to get in throughout the day so she's in and out of the thing all day.
I'm cheap when it comes to baby stuff. With the exception of her car seat, I've managed to source almost all of her big items free (from friends or freecycle) or used and cheap. But I'm really glad I invested in this item brand new. We use it so often, and will be using it for years.