Childproofing Kitchens

Making your kitchen child-safe in order to protect them is important for homes with young children and toddlers, as they have not yet learned how to protect themselves. At the top of the list are the hazardous substances common to most kitchens. Detergents, household cleaners, pesticides and any other toxic chemicals stored in cupboards near the floor should be removed and relocated to shelves out of reach, in lockable cabinets. Your local poison control center can supply you with a complete list of substances that should be kept from children.

Even after removing dangerous substances, undercounter cabinet doors should be fitted with childproof latches. These latches take the form of rugged plastic tabs that attach to the inside of a door; the tab’s end fits around a screw projecting down from the inside of the cabinet. The tabs length allow the door to be open just enough so that an adult can slip in a finger and unhook the tab, thus fully opening the door. A child’s hand is not strong enough to flex the stiff plastic tab, so even if they figure out how it works, the latch will keep the door closed. Additional protection can be provided on double doors whose knobs are side by side; just slip a strong rubber band over both knobs.

Sharp Objects

Kitchens, of course, are full of things with sharp edges. Any knives or implements with sharp cutting edges such as can openers, peelers, dicers, etc. should be cleared from counters, walls and backsplashes and stored in lockable drawers. Wall switches for garbage disposals or other appliances should have childproof switchplate locks installed on them.

Any edges or surfaces of countertops which project into the air where a child could bump their head on them should have foam rubber strips attached to sharp edges or corners for protection. Child-friendly corner protectors are available at home supply centers.

Do not underestimate the ability of a curious child to climb up above countertops. Upper wall cabinets should also have childproof latches installed on them, particularly any cabinets where glassware, vitamins, pharmaceuticals and china are stored.

Shelves above a stove should be cleared of any colorful knickknacks that could attract a child’s attention and entice them to climb up on the stovetop. Stoves should be equipped with security brackets which anchor them to the floor to prevent them from tipping over. Stovetops can be fitted with burner fences which encircle the stovetop with protective bars and preventing children’s hands from reaching burners, pots and pans.

On the floor, pet food, pet dishes and litter boxes should not be left unattended. Do not leave garbage containers out in the open either; they belong under the sink behind locked or latched cupboard doors.

If all the preceding precautions seem over restrictive and troublesome, you can consider the alternative of blocking access to the kitchen area with a childproof gate. This is not always feasible however, since many kitchens also contain a dining area or nook where the child is fed and often spends time playing