Baby and toddler-proofing your kitchen

A few months ago I was nursing Zach on the couch, in the middle of a phone call, when Eliza escaped the room and returned moments later with cracked eggshells in both hands that she had fished out of the trash.  And if you’ve read the “My Little Mimic” post, you know she’s pretty good at breaking glasses.

Every mom probably has stories like the ones above.  The question is not whether you will deal with incidents like them, but how often.  I believe the “how often” is directly proportional to the amount of “learning freedom” you want to give your child.  So, you might find it hard to believe, but I STILL have not put a lock on the cabinet under the sink where the trash can is located.  I want Eliza (and Zach, eventually) to have access to it so she can be helpful and learn to clean up after herself.

With that in mind, here is what I’ve done to our kitchen to baby and toddler proof it:

1) We have a lock on the silverware drawer and Greg has installed magnetic locks on two lower cabinets: the one next to the trash where some cleaning supplies are kept, and the one that holds the most stuff.  I have not locked up my pots and pans or measuring cups or even the drawer with my grater in it.  When she used to reach for the grater, I taught her it is sharp by gently rubbing her fingers against it.  She has stopped playing with it.

2) Growing up, I broke way too many of my mom’s plates and cups (and thus started way too many arguments and fights) to want to have my children frustrate me in the same way.  So I have replaced our every day plates and cups with good quality plastic ones.  I searched long and hard for both, and I can highly recommend Bentley extremeware plates and bowls ( because they are dishwasher safe on the bottom AND microwave safe, and the Williams-Sonoma DuraClear glassware (

3) When we renovated our kitchen three years ago, we bought new appliances that include locks on the cooktop and oven.

That’s it (for now – I’m sure a refrigerator lock and a pantry cabinet lock are in my future).  I have heard friends say they put locks on all their lower kitchen cabinets except the one that holds tupperware so their kids can play with it.  I think that’s a great idea if you want to better control what your children can access in the kitchen.  But I must say, it is really nice to be able to hand Eliza some trash, ask her to throw it in the garbage, and watch her little silhouette strut away, hear the cabinet door open, the swish of the trash hitting the bag, and the door closing.  And only rarely does she fish out something she finds interesting.  It’s worth it to me.

Do you have any safety suggestions for the kitchen?

3 thoughts on “Baby and toddler-proofing your kitchen

  1. The breaking of dishes and glasses happened more frequently when they were being washed by you when you were older. You typically objected to the task of doing the dishes because your older brother was perceived as getting off easy where household chores were concerned. I remember your favorite mantra, “It’s not fair!” That exclamation was accompanied with the stomp of one foot (for dramatic emphasis). Chip, chip. . . crack, crack. . . crash! Get the broom and dust pan!

    Your recommendation of the using the unbreakable dishes and drink ware is fabulous–even for the older children as mentioned above. The ones you selected are lovely.

  2. One more thing—

    Keep chairs and stepping stools out of the kitchen. They are liable to create access to the cabinets above the counter tops.

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