There are lots of unexpected challenges to becoming a parent: potty-training accidents, food issues, pet allergies, getting up to speed on Disney movies, moderating screen time, the lack of sleep (you never guessed it would be this bad!), imaginary friends. The list goes on. One thing that all parents face when their child becomes mobile is baby-proofing the house. Suddenly, the home that you have always associated with warmth and safety becomes a brimming cesspool of potential hazards to your child. Stairways need to be closed; sharp objects and poisonous substances need to be out of reach; electrical outlets need to be sealed.
It’s enough to drive anyone slightly batty. One way to calm the madness is to come up with a practical plan of attack. Although you definitely need to childproof your entire home, the rooms with the greatest potential for danger are likely your bathroom and your kitchen. The cabinets in both rooms (especially the kitchen) are likely to contain a trove of sharp objects and chemicals that are harmful to the touch, not to mention lethal to ingest.
So, what is the best way to childproof my cabinets?
The best way to childproof your cabinets is the way that strikes a happy balance between safety and ease / common sense. That’s not to say that safety isn’t the most important thing when it comes to your children. But if all you cared about was safety, then the “best” way to childproof cabinets would be to bolt them shut, throw away the key, and call your nearest locksmith every time you needed to open it. Then, once the locksmith opened it and you used the knife or chemical you needed, you would be bolting the cabinet shut again just to call your local locksmith all over again the next time you needed access.
Of course, no one would recommend such an extreme method of childproofing, except perhaps your locksmith!
So, what’s the next best way?
First, make sure you talk to your children about safety rather than simply making everything off limits to them. Education is an important part of childproofing, not to mention child rearing. After all, accidents happen. In the event that you or someone else inadvertently leave out a knife or harmful detergent within your child’s reach, the only “childproofing” that will work are the lessons you have taught your kids about the potential dangers in these objects. When you see them try to open a kitchen or bathroom cabinet or handle sharp objects, firmly explain that these things are dangerous and off-limits.
Next, and obviously, this is crucial, come up with a method of childproofing that renders safety hazards inaccessible to your young children while still allowing you to access them with relative ease. The best way to do this is to install childproof locks in your cabinets. Some childproof locks involve adhesive mounts or employ a sliding mechanism, but toddlers may figure these out. Traditional locks require a regular key and often work well. To avoid last-minute calls to an emergency locksmith the next time you need your laundry detergent, you should store the key somewhere that is outside of your child’s reach but easy for you to find. For example, you can keep the keys in an upper cabinet that your child can’t reach.
If you would rather not have to keep track of additional keys, don’t worry. There are lots of key-less options out there. Some childproof locks are PIN-operated or work with an electric sensor tied to your phone or another electronic device. Most toddlers, thankfully, have a hard time remembering PINs (but be sure to keep the number a secret, just in case your child is a prodigy!). You can also install a magnetic locking system. This does require a magnetic “key,” but magnetic keys tend to be larger, and therefore harder to misplace, than traditional serrated metal keys. Magnetic locks are often the best solutions aesthetically because the “lock” (e.g., one side of the magnet) goes on the inside of the cabinet, so the cabinet looks the same from the outside.
Once you’re done childproofing the cabinets, get to work on the rest of the house!