Baby-proof latches for frameless or inset cabinets

cloud_swiftFebruary 10, 2008

For those with frameless or inset cabinets what are you using for babyproof latches? Our granddaughter and her parents are living with us and she is just starting to walk (10 months) so it is getting to be time to do something.

We tried to install the first ones we bought on our under sink cabinet (where baby-dangerous things like DW detergent live) and found that they were too long and hit the sink. We got a shorter kind - that doesn't hit the sink but it also doesn't let us open the door far enough to get a finger in to operate the latch. I guess this would be easier with partial overlay framed cabinets because the door wouldn't be butted up against the panel above.

It looks like the drawers are going to be a problem too. We only plan on putting locks on the few drawers that have sharp knives but with frameless we need to put them on the side of the drawer if it isn't a top drawer. We mounted one test one and find that we can still open the drawer by pulling it a bit to the side without depressing the latch. If we put one on a top drawer, it will need to be pretty long to open the drawer enough to get a finger in because of the counter overhang.

We might have to do the magnetic latches but I'd prefer not to have to keep track of the key so I'd prefer not to use them.

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Will your granddaughter really be spending much unsupervised time in the kitchen? I would definitely move the detergents to another cabinet (perhaps up high in the laundry?) and move the knives to a block on the counter or a magnetic strip on the backsplash. Any breakables put in high cabinets. Other than that, let her bang on the pots and pans and stack the tupperware. I think babyproofing is unnecessary if you just rearrange the kitchen to be baby-friendly.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 6:45PM
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I think there are some people who would prefer to babyproof rather than reorganize their entire kitchen. :) Personal choice.

Cloud - what sort of pulls and knobs do you have? If you have pulls could you simply run something through all of them - it's a pain to open but at least they're locked. What I did was used locks with adhesives on the ends similiar to the last two items on this page : adhesive locks
and yes it ruined the finish on my cabinets but they were old anyway.

Also check out Safety 1st. they have a lot of unusual locks:

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 6:56PM
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I forgot to point was that possibly you'll have better luck finding something to use on the outside of your cabinets or knobs/pulls rather than the inside. :)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 6:58PM
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We've been through a lot of child-proofing products lately. I linked some of our favorites below. Until this remodel, we actually kept the children out of the kitchen unless they were eating in the high chair. This isn't by far a comprehensive list, but it's something. :) The first few items are from the website mentioned in one of the earlier posts.

In our house, variations on this are most effective for two cabinet doors. We don't have a good solution for drawers:

Cabinet Flex-Lock

Push 'n Snap Cabinet Lock

This is great for bi-fold doors:

Bi-Fold Door Lock

This for doors you don't want opened (difficult if you have anyone with arthritic hands):

Door Knob Covers

This for doors you don't want closed:

Finger Pinch Guard

These plugs are great if your grandchild is a Houdini with the usual covers:

Safe & Secure Outlet Plug Cover

Something like this if you have a raised hearth (the ones for tables, that are corners only don't work as well, in our experience):

Hearth Guard

And this gate is amazing (slightly more expensive, but easiest to operate that we've tried. no falling over it, and it has extensions. not good for at the top of stairs):

One last thing - we didn't use this version, jerry-rigged our own; but if your little one climbs bookcases or could tip a heavy piece of furniture over on herself:

Furniture Straps

We never did find a great solution for locking the medicine cabinet... Oh, and pond netting works okay if you have big indoor plants, from which she might start pulling out handfuls of dirt. Just okay.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 7:56PM
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Can't you just learn to say NO?

I'M TOTALLY KIDDING!!!!!! But someone always adds that snarky answer when I post questions like I thought I'd do it first.

Now I need to scroll up and read the answers because I can't say no often enough...and I have inset cabinets going in LOL

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 9:23PM
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Kids figure out how to bypass every kid latch except the magnetic kind. We screwed an eye-screw into the "lock" and fastened one of those colorful coiled wrist straps designed to hold keys (available at the Container Store), and "hung" it on something magnetic (usually one of our electrical outlets, up high).

We also used a toilet seat latch, and put a pull-down bolt on the top of our exterior doors to the backyard.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 9:52PM
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My kids are past the age of needing to be locked out of cabinets. However, a few years ago we brought home two kittens who tried to get into everything. I knew it wouldn't be long until they started opening our base cabinet doors. My DH installed magnetic catches (not locks) on the inside of all doors that hold the doors shut and requires much more force to open the cabinets. In fact, he installed two magnetic catches on the doors to the undersink cabinet (where our garbage is) and whenever someone new visits and tries to access the garbage, they tell us the doors "won't open" because it takes quite a bit more pulling power to open them. Once they've been shown, however, it's not a problem. This worked beautifully with our cats, as they tried a few times and gave up on the cabinets, and we never had to bother with anything more complicated.

Now I'm not saying that this would be sufficient for insuring the safety of your beloved granddaughter. I'm really not certain whether a toddler would be able to open our cabinets or not, if sufficiently motivated. I do know that it would, at least, slow down a child who was trying to get into the cabinet. We've had children visit frequently who have not been able to open any of our cabinet doors on their own---but there's a huge difference between a child who is visiting and more closely supervised and one who is living in a home.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 10:48PM
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lightlystarched, I expect our granddaughter will normally be supervised, but I'm not willing to leave some things to chance - we are all human and sometimes get distracted for a moment. The laundry room would be too far for going every time we wanted to start the dishwasher or use cleanser on a pan. Since I'm short, the number of upper shelves I can reach easily is limited and they are already in use. I also wouldn't trust moving the knives to the counter top as safe enough - some kids figure out how to push a chair over and climb up. A reasonable amount of baby-proofing makes more sense for us.

igloochic, lightly starched already covered that kind of response.

cate, that push'n snap lock looks like it would take care of the undersink cabinets for us. (The prep sink cabinet doesn't have anything that dangerous in it but there is a very heavy mortar and pestle so we might want one on it.) Before I had only seen the type that slid through the handles and have to be put somewhere when the cabinet is open. This looks like it could at least be opened with one hand which is a plus.

For the knife drawers I'm still stuck. We may have to do the magnet locks on them. We have a little time since she is barely walking at this point and can't reach into the top drawers yet.

While we aren't in a likely earthquake area, we are close enough to earthquakes that my cautious husband already had installed straps on the tall bookshelves and entertainment center for general safety so that one is covered. For the raised hearth, we had a heavy pet blanket that we used to pad it. We have been pleased with how is working - it stays in place very nicely and pads the sharp edges nicely.

gizmomike, the doors to the back yard are something we will have to tackle by summer I expect. I'm too short to operate a top bolt myself. I've started looking for temporary fencing that could be put around our pool and spa - our backyard layout doesn't make this easy. We might put those really loud alarms on the two doors that we use rarely and fence access from the two other doors to the pool.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 1:38AM
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As someone who had 3 in under 4 years, perhaps I can help ;). I still have an exterior lock for the under sink cabinet. My older two have figured it out, but the little one is still safe from the cleaners, unless he bribes his sisters. I have my knives on a magnetic strip on the backsplash. I keep a fishtank on the opposite counter, so that's always been a bigger target. I have seen my kids climb the cabinet pulls like a ladder. I did give them hell for that. My range is commercial and hot. I just took each of them pretty close to it at full force. They have a healthy fear of it. Fortunately for me, our kitchen is central, so they're usually supervised. Occasionally, one slips away and gets into trouble. Yesterday it was baby powder on my son's floor. I didn't even know we had any.

I think a lot of the posters who advocate watching children instead of childproofing are past the years in the trenches. I'm hoping to be able to put some of this out of my memory, too. I would say that my house is about 30% safe. The most toxic chemicals are put away, but other things are exposed. I want them to learn safety in a fairly safe environment, so they can go out into the world (or to grandma's house) and not be clueless.

Cloud--the most important thing you can do for her is fence in that pool/spa. Our doors beep when open so we know where everyone is. That might help.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 6:18AM
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cloud I promise I was kidding :) And honestly I thought lightly was trying to offer nice suggestion, but with a 2 year old, I do understand how you feel. Moving it all up is just temporary...they grow...and gad forbid, they start climbing!!!

I'm putting in the same type of cabinets so I'm interested in the responses. I'd agree with you...the knife drawer is my biggest concern as well. That and the range, but I think the range is easier since it has a nice bar that keeps him away from it if he did manage to turn on a burner.

I'll watch this thread and check out the options myself as well :) I really am interested given the change to inset cabinets that we just made.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 8:57AM
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What great ideas. I'm sending for a couple of items on Cate's wonderful list right now. Our two 16- and 17-month-old grandsons are real monkeys. A mix of approaches--whatever works!--seems sensible to me and to their parents. Both families allow their boys into most of the lower cabinets, and the babies know perfectly well that if they drop a can of tomatoes on a foot it's going to hurt. :)

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 10:07AM
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Good Morning, cloud_swift. You and your granddaughter are so lucky to have this time together -- I'd love for my children to be close to their grandparents.

I don't know where you are, but this is the link to the International Association for Child Safety, and they have a list of childproofers throughout the world.

Before we moved into our (CO) house (from CA), we found a childproofer on this site to come out and take care of us in this house. We'd never lived in a multi-storey house (with children) and so were unsure which type(s) of gates to get. Well, in less time than it is taking me to type this our childproofer assessed our house and installed all kinds of goodies. He'd seen it all before and knew exactly what to do.

I've no doubt that your local childproofer could do the same for you with the inset cabinets and anything else which was affected by your remodel.

Good luck, and enjoy this special time together!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 10:49AM
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I'm so glad some of the items I linked in could help. I just realized I didn't paste the gate link:

Hands Free Gate

I'd done a search a couple of days before your post (great timing!) for knife solutions for children. It'll be a real pain for us, as I wanted to keep knives and prep tools in one large drawer. I can't find a way to lock and separate them in the drawer conveniently. (There are locking carrying cases.)

My mother-in-law used the magnetic strip. Works until the kiddos climb on the counter.

I have a small triangular cabinet by my prep area and was thinking about attaching this to the door, then putting a child lock on that door only:

Knife Rack

Or maybe in my broom pull-out, beside the refrigerator, if I can figure out a way to keep everything sterile.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 11:26AM
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Yeah, I guess I'm past the "years in the trenches". My 4 and 7 year old call me old, lol. I only had one lower cabinet that needed to be latched and that was the sink base since we keep the garbage there. I just found it easier to rearrage the kitchen for a year or so instead of messing around with all those latches. My parents put some on their cabinets (when my kiddos were at that stage) and within a month or so they were misshapen and useless.

The place I missed babyproofing was my makeup drawer. A 2-yo with a lipstick can do lots of damage. =)

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 12:27PM
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If you can, the easiest way to babyproof the entire kitchen is with a gate. I did use gates to keep my toddlers out the kitchen while mopping or cooking something dangerous.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 12:32PM
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Lol lightlystarched! I once made mashed boiled eggs for DH (he was around 1 at the time). They're mashed with butter, salt, and pepper. He was sitting so nicely eating, I left the room, came back, he was walking around still eating - no problem - I left the room, came back... he wasn't eating. He'd shoved half the mixture in his mouth and was wandering around smearing handfuls on my furniture. *shudder*

OK, will try to control my wandering wits and stay on topic...

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 12:51PM
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Cate - Isn't it nice to be able to laugh about it now? I was so livid at the time. The same daughter spilled milk all inside the crevices of a leather sofa. It was unnoticeable until a few days later..... yuck! Of course that was the "forever" sofa we bought before we had kids.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 1:36PM
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Cate -- Wow, you were cooking for your DH when he was 1?! You go girl!! lol (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek as I know you meant DS)!!

Sorry for the hi-jack but couldn't resist!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 2:25PM
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aw crud. LOL! You caught me. Hee hee, I guess most of my stories about "disaster" usually go with "DH!"

At least we're keeping cloud's question on the first page!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 4:40PM
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Even if I was willing to have knives on the counter and count on the baby not climbing up their, a knife block or magnetic strip wouldn't be very feasible for us. We keep kosher so we have separate knives for meat, dairy and parve (neither meat nor dairy). On top of that my favorite knife is a chinese chef's knife (shaped like a cleaver but lighter). I don't have enough available backsplash to put all those on a magnetic strip.

mkitchen, I did find a listing for a baby proofer around here. I'm a little concerned that if we get one out, he will want to over-do it. Did you find the suggestions reasonable? And how much did it cost?

lightlystarched, what kind of latches did your parents put in that got misshapen and useless after a month? We used latches on a few doors and drawers when our kids were little and they lasted for years.

We have put latches on the low doors and drawers in the entertainment center because that is where we have her play area set up and we didn't want to be saying "No" all the time there. My DH and DDIL prefer that we say "only look" or "only touch" if it is something that she can touch but shouldn't put in her mouth to tell her what she can do instead of "no". I prefer to leave "no" or "only look" for the things that she might damage like the vertical blinds and secure the things that could quickly damage her badly.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 9:32PM
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cloud_swift -- any reputable childproofer will a) suggest everything they see (and they'll see LOTS -- that's their job, to try and prevent every single thing, big and little) and will also b) respect your wishes to ONLY do what you wish. If you get any pressure from the childproofer then it is time for them to leave your house. (my opinion)

We felt the fee was absolutely reasonable for what we had done and the fact that we ourselves didn't have to do a thing. We were overwhelmed (with moving, etc.) and it was a h-u-g-e relief to have it all done at once and to have it all done at once correctly. When this whole remodel is done we'll have him come back out to do all the new things, and again, for my peace of mind it will be worth it.

If your sole concern is latching the inset cabinets, then the childproofer should be happy to do just that for you. Because they do this for a living, day-in and day-out, I figure they should have a quick and reasonable solution for that. Like for us, it was how to get tripless / auto-close gates on our stairs. We'd spent a while researching it and finally I realized: "I'm calling a childproofer!" Presto, as soon as I started to explain to him what I wanted (over the phone as we were still in CA at the time) he said "got you covered." And they're perfect!

Anyway, that's why I thought a childproofer could be the ideal solution for you. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 9:48PM
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I have two kids under the age of 4. Since I have as much trouble with child proof locks as the kids, I moved the frequently used things like scuba cleaning solution and dishwasher detergent to the top shelf of our pantry/cabinet. We have knobs on the under sink cabinet and put a child proof lock that has a loop around each knob and a square - you have to press and pull at the same time or something like that. We also have baby gates for the kitchen doorways. Our biggest thing is remembering to close the baby gates. We clap and say "good job" when they see an open gate and close it. We though about getting things for our cabinets but we didn't want to drill our new cabinets and I am not a big bang the pots and pans person so we try to distract them with other things in the kitchen. What has helped is having magnets on the fridge - animals, alphabets etc. They will press the button and dance around to the songs or try to match the animals or letters etc. Very happy we went for the titanium finish so we could have magnets.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 10:16PM
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I have twin 3 year old boys who are into everything! I use magnetic latches in my kitchen (which are the best for frameless kitchens) and they work great. Occasionally, I unlock the magnetic latches because I am doing a lot of cooking. I must say that my boys still do a "security inspection" at least once daily to see if any cabinets are unlocked! Frequently they will come to me and say "Uh, oh- this drawer is open!" I don't think that they actually realize that the latches are to keep them out!

I also don't keep anything dangerous in my base cabinets- cleansers, knives, etc. are in the upper cabinets. I am careful, but it just adds one more level of safety if my older son leaves something open.

I do recommend the magnetic latches. They can be unlocked if you don't need them, but can be locked if you have a grandchild who loves making big messes! I just keep two magnetic locks on my refrigerator, and they haven't gotten lost yet (I also keep one more in my bathroom just in case).

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 11:34PM
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