Parents everywhere are all too familiar with the “mad-dash” that happens in the kitchen when their little ones are ready to explore and conquer during dinner prep. Running to close cabinet doors, hide plastic bags, and keep knives away is a normal scenario in a kitchen that is not baby-proofed.
The kitchen is not only the coziest part of the home, it can also be the most dangerous. There are countless hazards to be mindful of such as stored cleaning supplies, heavy kitchen appliances, electrical outlets, and the list could go on. Baby-proofing your kitchen is essential to a worry-free and hassle-free lifestyle when raising kids and you can do it in 5 simple steps.
- Start with Smart Storage
The best place to start is to think smart when it comes to storage. Having easy-access to the things you need in the kitchen without creating risk for your children takes some thought. Cleaning supplies should be stored in cabinets that are high-up and not in reach for the kids. Choose a cabinet or space for your cleaning supplies that can’t be reached, but also an area that doesn’t pose a risk to contaminate your child’s dishes, food, or other supplies. Another option is to purchase and install magnetic locks for your cabinets. They can only be opened with a magnetic key and this way it’s easier to keep the things you need within easy-reach.
Avoid storing kitchen-knives in sliding drawers as children have easy access to these drawers even if they are higher up. Just a quick pull-up of a chair, or stretch of their tiny fingers, and they can grab what’s in reach. In order to baby-proof your home from the threat of cuts, keep your knives in cabinets or drawers that can’t be reached even with a little extra effort from your child. Be sure to leave knife-sets on the back edges of the countertop so you’re curious explorer won’t be able to grab the first thing they touch.
As with all hazardous items, sometimes the best way to baby-proof your kitchen and store dangerous supplies is to keep them out of view altogether, and if necessary, in a different room.
- Clean and Manage as You Go
One of the simplest ways to baby-proof your kitchen is to clean as you go. While you’re preparing meals, clean and put away knives, cutting boards, and other objects as you finish using them. Doing so will ensure that your little one can safely enjoy their way around the kitchen as you work. If they want to help you cook, make it a priority to put away heavy appliances like blenders after use so there’s no chance of serious injuries.
Don’t forget to monitor and maintain stovetop safety. Pot and pan handles facing outward over the edge of the stove are risky business. Rotate all handles on the stove so that they are facing inward and away from the quick grasp of your child. Avoid any further jeopardy by keeping anything that easily boils over on the burners at the very back end of the stove. Baby-proofing the stove, oven, and appliances like the dishwasher and fridge is essential to kitchen safety.
3.Cover Outlets and Sharp Corners
There is possibly nothing more enticing to a young mind than an electrical outlet. If you’re going to baby-proof anything in your kitchen, make sure the outlets are immediately covered. Buy and use plastic covers that are easily removable when you need to plug something in. It’s a quick-fix that’ll give you peace of mind and protect your inquisitive adventurer.
Other potential hazards are the sharp corners of cabinets when they are opened, and the pointed edges of countertops, tables, and chairs. A simple way to keep “boo-boos” at bay is to keep all cabinets closed, and baby-proof the sharp corners. With a little creativity, anything is possible. Pool noodles cut in half are a cheap and effective way to slide cushioning over the danger areas.
- Tackle the Trash
As the old saying goes “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” This couldn’t be more true for youngsters. Keep them from exploring the garbage can by using trash cans with latches or locks. If that isn’t an option, keep garbage cans in cabinets that can be locked. If your trash is free-standing, find a secure spot so there’s no chance of major spills.
Plastic bag safety goes hand in hand with baby-proofing your garbage can. Remove all trash bags, and other plastic shopping bags from your child’s reach. They are a choking hazard and it’s best to keep them out of view. You can store your plastic bags by tying them in knots. This complicates the process of opening them so there’s no chance of using them for play. Keep them in a storage area that isn’t easily accessible.
- Educate on Safety with Fun
One of the most simple and cost-effective ways to baby-proof your kitchen is to consistently educate your children on safety. When they are babies, repeat short phrases that will alert them to potential danger. A gentle “don’t touch” can go a long way. Or, come up with your own way of letting them know they could get hurt, but be sure not to scare them. The kitchen should always be a welcoming space in the home for every child. Along with reminders, model what you are teaching by working safely in the kitchen. As they grow, continue to reinforce safety education in the kitchen.
Incorporate fun ways to distract them from hazards by using colors and toys to get their attention. Place magnets on the fridge to occupy their time, but make sure they aren’t small enough to be swallowed. Purchase some cleaning toys like plastic vacuums, brooms, kitchen utensils and appliances. This will make your tiny tots feel like they are your biggest helper. You’ll be worry-free and they’ll safely “help” you clean and make dinner. You can even consider assigning them a lower cabinet that is all their own. Fill it with kitchen toys or other zero-risk items they can safely play with. Empty plastic spice-containers are the perfect distraction.
Baby-proofing your kitchen is simple if you’re thinking a few steps ahead. Prepare as much in advance as you can and adjust as you see fit. There’s nothing like safely sharing and enjoying the comfort of the kitchen with your children.