The How-To Guide for a Baby Proof Kitchen

When Baby Starts to Explore

With anxious anticipation we watch and wait for the day that our baby starts to toddle, then walk; with good reason: it's an exciting world to explore.

Then, we live in fear when the cute wobbly toddle develops into an all-out full-speed-ahead run; with good reason: it's a dangerous world to explore.

Keep your baby safe inside your home by baby-proofing the most dangerous areas of your home: the bathroom and the kitchen. Our focus here is on the kitchen, but many of the products and ideas apply to the bathroom, too.

How to Baby Proof Your Kitchen

The most common dangers in your kitchen are not electric outlets and sharp corners, like the coffee table. The kitchen becomes dangerous when baby opens those doors.

Here's a list of some of the best products for keeping baby out of the cabinets and appliances.

Keeping the Doors and Drawers Closed

NOTE: Any reasonable guide to baby-proofing should start with the big, or obvious, reminders: Never leave baby unattended in the kitchen; always secure any free standing shelves or cabinets to the wall to prevent tip-over; keep appliance cords from hanging off the edge of the counter.

Now, the crux of a baby-proof kitchen: the drawers and cabinet doors.

The best products for securing the cabinet doors in your home have one purpose: keep baby out of the cabinet. Seems simple enough, right?

Well, there are products out there that claim to do that, but instead provide just another way for baby to be hurt. We aren't going to go into detail, but be aware of products that allow the cabinet door to open just a little bit - just enough to smash baby's little fingers, and be aware of products that might cause choking.

Fear not, proud parent, there are several excellent products that provide safety for your adventurous little one. Each of these safety products is available for under $25, so it won't break the bank to have security in your kitchen.

Safety 1st SecureTech Cabinet Lock

A low tech, actually, cabinet lock that works best on doors with knobs rather than handles. Available in single or multipacks.

Munchkin Xtraguard Dual Action Multi Use Latches

These latches are straps that stretch from door to door or from door to door-frame. They can be used on the refrigerator as well as cabinet doors. Available as a two pack.

BabyKeeps Adjustable Child Safety Locks

These latches use reusable 3M technology to stick to the front or sides of your cabinet or refrigerator doors to keep baby out. Find them in white or brown.

Safety Baby Magnetic Cabinet Locks

Using 3M technology, these cabinet locks are hidden inside the cabinet door and are opened with the magic magnetic key. Here's a set of four with one key.

Safety 1st Magnetic Cabinet Locks

These magnet powered safety locks are installed to the inside of the cabinet, so remain out of sight in your kitchen. They are opened with the included magnetic key. Here's an eight pack of these locks.

Reviews of the Best Child/Baby Safety Locks

Safety 1st SecureTech Cabinet Lock

These simple easy to use cabinet locks fit well on cabinets with single post knobs, but can also be used on cabinets with handles—if the handles are far enough from the cabinet for the latch to pass through. The lock is easily opened with one hand, and can be locked back with one hand as well. The SecureTech cabinet lock fits cabinets with knobs between 2" and 5 ½" apart.

SecureTech's low-tech design is perfect for rental homes, where you don't want any permanent fixtures. They are moveable and reusable, and work well on older cabinets that are not flush to the frame on the inside.

We found them more durable than the rubber bands had used before—and much less likely to become a choking hazard. Safety first for a baby proof kitchen.

Things we liked

  • Ease of use - one handed
  • Simple, low-tech solution to cabinet security
  • Not a permanent installation

Things we didn't like

  • Won't work on larger cabinets with distance between knobs
  • Not a solution for drawers
  • Our three year old figured out how to open them

Munchkin Xtraguard Dual Action Multi Use Latches

The Munchkin Multi-Use latches truly are multi use. The flexible straps make it easy to baby proof your appliance doors, trash can lids, toilet lids, drawers and more.

These latches work like the buckles or safety straps in a car seat. The latches require dual button release, so little hands are not likely to manage to open them.

They come with an adhesive backing, so no tools are required for installation, and there's no damage to the surfaces.

We especially like that the strap is flexible enough to secure around corners. We weren't limited to the flat surfaces of cabinet doors.

Things we liked

  • Super easy installation
  • Worked to keep doggy door closed
  • Also kept doggy out of trash can

Things we didn't like

  • Wish straps came in longer lengths
  • Adhesive sometimes leaves residue
  • Our three year old mastered the dual button release

BabyKeeps Adjustable Child Safety Locks

The BabyKeeps Safety Locks are similar to Munchkin latches in that they are straps and install with adhesive. The similarity ends there, though.

The BabyKeeps straps are adjustable and the lock, while super easy for an adult, is very tricky for children. The 3M adhesive technology means tool free installation in minutes and security for the long term. Without damaging the surfaces of the cabinets.

In addition, these locks come in white and in brown, to minimize their appearance on darker cabinets. The BabyKeeps company is so sure you'll be satisfied that they offer a money back guarantee. Baby proof and satisfaction guaranteed—what more can we ask for?

Things we liked

  • Adjustable and flexible strap
  • 3M adhesive is a familiar brand
  • Our three year old still can't get into them

Things we didn't like

  • The brown locks have white straps, so aren't completely invisible
  • The straps can't be adjusted after installation

Safety Baby Magnetic Cabinet Locks

Want to lock your cabinets invisibly? These Safety Baby Magnetic cabinet locks do just that. The mechanism is hidden inside the cabinet door.

With the 3M adhesive, these locks are easy to install and can be removed without damage. Since they are hidden inside the cabinet, why would you want to remove them?

Like magic, the magnet activated locks open with the wave of the magnet key; one key for multiple locks. The product even comes with a handy mountable magnetic base for the key so it's never lost in the junk drawer.

One of the best features of this baby proofing lock is the "disengage" feature. You can actually turn the locks off if you don't need them for extended periods of time.

Things we liked

  • Hidden locks keep the kitchen looking good
  • The magnet key is powerful
  • We could hear the locks engage with a click

Things we didn't like

  • The possibility of losing the key
  • Can't use on appliances

Safety 1st Magnetic Cabinet Locks

Like the previous magnetic locks, the Safety 1st Magnetic cabinet locks are invisible to your children and guests. The baby proof lock is installed on the interior of the cabinet or drawer.

These locks have a "off" switch, to turn the locks off when you want easy and repeated access to the contents of the cabinet. This feature is also handy when your little one outgrows the need to be protected from the pots and pans.

The installation requires a measuring tape, pencil, drill, and screwdriver. Once mounted properly, these locks are here for the long term.

Wave the magic key in front of the locks, and, click, you can hear the lock moving to the open position. The magnetic key is easy to use and easy to store up high out of the reach of curious little ones.

Things we liked

  • Screwing the locks into the door removes chance of adhesive failing
  • The locks are safe and invisible
  • We can turn the locks off

Things we didn't like

  • Measuring, drilling, screwing
  • Only one key per 8 locks

How to choose baby proofing locks for the kitchen

There's no question that will need to baby-proof your kitchen. There are far too many risks to consider: cleaning supplies, sharp objects, even heavy canned goods all pose potential danger to babies and young children. It's not if you should baby proof, but how you should baby proof.

Which type of lock or latch?

Which product is best for you? That will depend on your specific needs. Maybe you'll need more than one kind of baby proof lock for your home. For example, do you want to secure the refrigerator, microwave, or dishwasher? Appliances require a different kind of lock than cabinets.

Questions to ask yourself:

How are my cabinets/drawers constructed? Are the handles or knobs close together or far apart? In our kitchen the lower level cabinets' handles are only inches apart, while in the bathroom the handles are in the center of the door. (Weird, I know.)

Do I want visible or invisible locks? There are benefits to both styles: the exterior locks provide a visual deterrent to busy children, while invisible locks may train toddlers to think that ALL cabinets are impenetrable.

Do I want to install permanent fixtures? There is no way to remove the locks that are installed with screws without damaging the cabinet. If you rent your home, permanent installation may be in violation of your lease. Check into that.

Conclusion

I remember that when I was little, my mom secured the cabinet doors with a fly swatter: she'd swat any of us that dared to go near a door. Apparently this was effective, since we all survived, but I also remember that my mom spent almost all of her time in the kitchen.

Times have changed. Today's moms (and dads) are not tied by apron strings to the kitchen, so it's necessary to provide security that doesn't rely on you being right there. Cabinet locks keep baby out of the danger zones. No fly swatter needed.

Of course, the perfect product for you will depend on your circumstances. Of the three types and five models of baby proofing locks reviewed here, there are two clear winners, each satisfying a different need.

BabyKeeps Adjustable Child Safety Locks are strap style latches that work on appliances and oddly shaped cabinets and drawers. They are sturdy and resist even the most determined toddlers. The 3M adhesive is strong enough to withstand use but can be removed, when the time comes, without damaging the surface.

Safety Baby Magnetic Cabinet Locks are our choice for traditional cabinets. These locks install without power or hand tools, and like the BabyKeeps locks, the 3M technology is strong but removable. The hardware of the lock is sturdy and appears stronger than similar locks. To be honest, though, the positive reviews of the company's excellent customer service weighed heavily in on our decision.

A combination of these different style locks will make it easy for you to baby proof your kitchen and keep your little one safe—without a fly swatter.

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