Babies and toddlers are naturally curious. They want to explore and touch everything. In the kitchen, this can mean danger. It’s not always practical to keep the kitchen completely out of bounds. Sometimes, you are alone, and you need to keep an eye on your baby while you cook. Luckily, it’s possible to babyproof your kitchen to make it safer for your baby.
We put together 12 simple steps you can take. It’s important to note that how you approach babyproofing is really down to you as a parent. Some parents will go all out; others will just take care of the essentials. Whatever you do, I’m sure you will find it worth the effort. So, let’s start!
1 Keep counter edge clear
How often do you absent-mindedly put your coffee cup on the edge of the counter? Now is the time to change this habit. Babies and toddlers can reach further than you think. They can tiptoe or climb the drawer handle to get ahold of whatever they have their eyes on. For this reason, don’t leave anything near the edge of the countertop or tables.
2 Mind the small appliances
This is very important to make your kitchen baby-proof, and it’s free! When not in use, unplug electrical appliances like toasters, blenders, coffee makers, and kettles. It’s advised to put them away as soon as you are finished with them. It’s not always practical, I know. The other option is to push them to the back of the counter so that they’re beyond your baby’s grasp. Don’t forget to tuck in the cords. Your little one can easily pull the loose cords, bringing everything down tumbling onto their head. If you need to, use cord shorteners to take up the slack in appliance cords.
3 Babyproof your oven and stove
Babyproofing your oven and stove isn’t that tricky. I broke it down for you into easy steps:
- If your stove knobs are out front where your child can reach them, remove the knobs when you’re not cooking or cover them with covers. Stove knob covers are really easy to fit and remove. You’ll still be able to use your stove but most importantly, your child won’t fill out the house with gas.
- Install a stove guard to make sure your baby can’t reach the stove. Look for something of high quality, adjustable length and that can be easily washed.
- Secure oven door with an appliance latch. This will help your baby from pulling the oven down, especially if something is cooking in there.
4 Practice safe cooking
Here are a few changes you can do while you cook and that can go a long way in protecting your child:
- Use back burners whenever possible. If you have to use the front burners, turn cookware handles away from the front of the stove, so your baby can’t reach up and grab them.
- Don’t hold your baby while cooking at the stove. Babies squirm and fidget, which can land you in trouble in a matter of a second.
- Be careful when opening the door of a hot oven if your child is standing by. He may try to touch the inside of the door or may get a face full of very hot air.
- Clean up spills as soon as possible to avoid you or your baby going for a tumble.
- Keep your baby contained. A contained baby is a safer baby, provided they’re secure and can be seen. Baby gates, highchairs and play yards all do a great job of keeping babies and toddlers in one spot and out of another.
5 Keep chemicals locked
Keep cleaning products, laundry detergents, pesticides, and any other toxic household chemicals out of reach from your little one. Put them in a high cabinet. Alternatively, secure the cabinets with safety locks so that your baby cannot access them.
6 Keep sharp or breakable objects out of reach
The kitchen is crammed with fragile glassware and sharp objects such as knives, forks, peelers, graters, and food processor blades. Keep them in drawers or shelves that are beyond the reach of your little one. If that’s not possible or practical, babyproof the cabinets and drawers with safety locks.
7 Babyproof your appliances
Fridges, dishwashers, and washing machines are all fair game as far as an adventurous toddler is concerned. Each appliance poses unique hazards.
It provides your baby instant access to detergent, sharp knives, and breakables. Luckily, it’s easy to childproof your dishwasher with a simple safety lock. In addition, follow the below tips:
- Keep the dishwasher closed and latched,
- Place sharp utensils facing down,
- Add the detergent just before running the load,
- Remove sharp objects and breakables as soon as they are washed.
- Secure your fridge with a safety lock to prevent your little one from rummaging through the contents.
- Be mindful of small refrigerator magnets. Children can choke on small items, and colorful refrigerator magnets are particularly enticing.
The washing machine
You might not think of the washing machine as dangerous. Your child might get himself trapped inside a front-loading washing machine and suffocate because of lack of oxygen. Keep your child safe around washers by following the below tips:
- Use a childproof safety lock on a front-load washer’s door to prevent your child from opening it.
- Keep the washer door shut when kids are around,
- Engage the washer’s lock-out feature. Check out the washer’s manual to find out how it works.
- Be especially cautious with detergent pods. They are made up of a highly concentrated formula that can do a lot of damage if ingested. The worst is that they look like candy and children are attracted to them.
8 Create a play cupboard
Designate one floor-level cabinet for your baby. Keep it unlocked and fill it with plastic storage containers, wooden spoons, lightweight saucepans, and other items your baby can safely play with while you’re cooking. Make sure they’re not too close to the oven. Change the contents occasionally to give your baby a surprise. That should keep your child happily distracted.
9 Put a lid on trash
Children are attracted to trash cans. They have lots of colorful items to pull out. Keep wandering hands out of dirty trash cans. Use a child-resistant trash can or keep your trash behind closed doors in a locked cabinet. Alternatively, you can install an adhesive-mounted safety latch to secure the can.
10 Be mindful of plastic bags
Babies and toddlers love nothing more than the rustle of a plastic bag. Sadly, the plastic bag could find its way onto their head and lead to suffocation. Suffocation is caused by the fact that plastics do not let through any air and breathing becomes impossible. Babies under the age of six months are particularly vulnerable because they are mobile enough to fall or roll onto a bag but not sufficiently coordinated to get off of it. For this reason, don’t leave plastic bags lying around. Don’t forget the boxes of plastic wrap. Those are especially dangerous because they are so thin.
11 Don’t forget your dining area
Whether you have an eat-in kitchen or a separate dining room, observe the following:
- Shove chairs back in place against the table when not in use. Don’t let them stand out from the table where they may be treated as steps for a toddler to climb. You can consider using chair locks also.
- Check for protruding nails, splintered wood, and sharp edges. Get down on all fours and take a look at the undersides of your tables and chairs.
- Don’t use placemats or tablecloths because your child can pull them – and what’s on top of them – down on himself.
12 Soften sharp edges and corners
Check for sharp edges and corners where your child could bang his head and injure himself. Install protective guards or cushioning. There are plenty of options available in the market.
In a nutshell
When it comes to babyproofing, your kitchen requires extra attention. Now that you’ve taken steps to make sure that the kitchen is a safer place for your little one, remember there’s no substitute for your supervision. It is important also that you educate and discipline your baby as to what is off-limits.
We hope you found our tips for childproofing your kitchen useful. Check out our other baby proofing tips for the bathroom.