If toddlers have one special gift, it’s breaking all the house rules in the most cheerful and non-malicious way possible.
Part of this is down to their unique and broad sense of possession. You know the old saying: if it’s theirs, it’s theirs; if it’s yours, it’s theirs; if the dog’s having fun with it, it’s theirs…
If it’s behind a locked door, it stands some chance of staying out of their sticky, curious little hands.
This is just as well, since nearly a million babies and toddlers are admitted to the ER every year, having gotten access to a cupboard with medicines or cleaning fluids. That scenario is the stuff of nightmares.
If your baby is just about sitting up, then this is the time to start fitting those locks. It might seem early, but they will be crawling before you know it, and your lower drawers will become a forbidden toys playground.
There are a lot of baby-proofing cabinet options out there, so we’ve picked some of the best across a range of designs. You might want to double up as they serve very different purposes.
After showing you our five favorites, we’ve given you a little buyer’s guide to help you figure out which combinations best suit your home. Finally, we’ve answered a few frequently asked questions about making your home safer in general.
|Vmaisi Adhesive Magnetic Cabinet Locks (12 Locks and 2 Keys)||$29.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Adoric Sliding Cabinet Locks, 4-Pack U Shaped Baby Safety Locks, Childproof Cabinet Latch for...||$8.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Child Safety Cabinet Locks 10 Pack – Babyproofing for Drawers, Doors and Closets with Super Strong...||$11.70||Buy on Amazon|
|Baby Proofing Child Safety Locks (12 Pack) by Skyla Homes - The Safest, Quickest and Easiest 3M...||$15.95||Buy on Amazon|
|Kiscords Baby Safety Cabinet Locks for Knobs Child Safety Cabinet Latches for Home Safety Strap for...||$9.99||Buy on Amazon|
Now that you’ve seen what’s on offer out there, you might already have a good idea of which child/baby-proofing solutions suit you best.
To help you decide which combination or set of locks is best for you, we’ve pulled together a list of things to take into account before you hit the ‘buy’ button.
If you’ve already spent your worldly cash on baby buggies or prams, then you’ll want something plentiful, inexpensive, and which can be fitted anywhere. In which case, the adhesive straps might be your best bet.
They’re the only locks which can be applied around corners, and they’re robust enough to protect your toddler as well as your crawling-alarmingly-fast baby.
Kids are getting taller these days. This generation of babies will most likely be five feet tall by the time they’re 10. That’s a little scary, isn’t it? If you’re not the tallest of moms, then you’ll have to stand on the naughty step to make eye contact with them by the time they’re 12.
And although they remain cute for a long time, they do not remain tiny.
So, if you have a tall baby, or one who is spookily good at learning from watching, then the spring-based locks may only work until they’re about 18 months old. And then you’ll have to opt for something more complex.
However, if you have a shorter or more chilled baby who isn’t inclined to open a door just because it’s shut, then this kind of lock has a longer operational life. The Adoric U-lock, likewise, is complicated only if you don’t know how to work it.
The design is intended to be difficult for little fingers, but a smart older toddler, with hands strengthened from shaking baby gate bars, could get to grips with how these work before their fourth birthday.
Just have a think about how fast your baby is likely to evolve into a proficient escape artist, and plan ahead if you think those days are coming within the next year.
You can always double up on magnetic locks and exterior straps if need be.
Sometimes it’s not just the babies and toddlers you need to protect.
Children with special needs between 3-7 years old can be as strong as they are inquisitive, and they’re not easy to coax out of investigating a closed-off space if they’re worried that they’ve lost something that’s been tidied away.
In which case, you’ll want an ‘invisible’ solution which doesn’t draw attention to itself, and something which is going to stay put, even when significant pressure is applied. If you’re not planning to move home any time soon, then your solution may be to use the magnetic locks but reinforce the strong adhesive with screws.
After all, what’s a few screw holes in a kitchen if you’re not trying to sell the place on? At least they’re still discreet.
If you have an upscale home with expensive or antique furniture, then you’ll most likely want to stick with the locks which do not include any kind of fixings or adhesives (the tie-cords or U-tube solutions). These are also the most portable form of child-proofing, and they’re great for grandparents whose kids and grandkids visit often.
As someone who wants their home child-proofed part time only, you won’t want to battle with spring or magnetic locks until they’re necessary to use.
The magnetic locks included in our choice are designed to stick into place with just a minute’s positioning prep for each one.
If the cabinet space is awkward for seeing what you’re doing while applying tiny screws, then you might want to double up: use two keys at top and bottom of the cupboard instead of trying to find a cordless driver with a magnetic tip and LED light so you can see what the heck you’re doing.
Or perhaps there are only a couple of cupboards in the whole place that you want to protect now, and the others are best placed on kitchen white goods to protect your child from immediate and serious danger. In which case, the semi-permanent straps will come to your rescue.
Overall, just weigh up the likelihood of the special cupboard or drawer being breached against the longevity of that solution. Where possible, keep your back to your child when you’re opening the lock to defer the day when they figure out how to do this themselves.
And as soon as you suspect that they’re close to cracking the code of getting that door open, then change the locks. Don’t leave anything to chance.
Getting locked out when you’ve literally taken two steps to grab the paper can make for the beginning of a totally awful day. There are two solutions to this; firstly, make sure you never move two feet without keys.
This is easier said than done—grabbing your keys is not automatic before seven in the morning. Secondly, make sure that your door has a latch. If it has a fixable latch, then you will have to train yourself to click the safety into place before stepping outside. Ever.
However, if it’s a simple press-down door handle, then get a thick rubber band (or stretchy hairband) and form an X across the latch, securing it into place using the handles on either side of the door for tension. It’s temporary and not ideal, but it may stop you being stranded on the doorstep.
Some moms make a mold of the latch gap in the door casing and then shove a rubber bung into that hole if they’re just stepping outside for a few seconds at a time.
Okay, now that you’ve secured your DVD cabinet, locked the X-box and controllers away, and you’ve got any alcohol magnetically secured, there are other things you can do to keep baby from harm. The trick is to get down low and see things from your baby’s point of view.
Where are the sharp corners? Are there any edges they could graze themselves on? Straighten out rugs. Make sure that the cabling for your TV or media center is bound tidily, and, if possible, out of sight. Gently rock furniture; does it stay put?
Adjust, fix or ditch unstable bookcases which will rebound off the wall and into your child if they toddle into them at speed.
You can use an old credit card to scrape off the immediate residue, and then gently dab the area with nail polish remover/acetone/rubbing alcohol, which releases the adhesive bonds.
If you’ve attached an adhesive strap to wood, then it’s safest to use a commercial cleaner that’s made specifically for the purpose.