How To Baby Proof Your Home With Cabinet Locks And Straps

A guide to the different locks and straps available for babyproofing your cabinets.

Most parents eagerly anticipate the day when their child begins to crawl but soon learn that their child's newfound mobility can expose their child to a world of dangers. Children love to explore and a closed cabinet door will peak their natural curiosity. In most households cabinets contain cleaning products, insecticides, medications and other products that could be harmful to your baby if ingested or inhaled. In addition to these harmful products, cabinets themselves pose a threat to your child. They can slam shut or pinch your child's fingers. That's why it's important to babyproof your home before your child becomes mobile. There is an assortment of consumer products available to secure your cabinets from your baby's curious fingers including adhesive mounted locks, screw mounted locks, magnetic locks, and locking straps.

The first step to babyproofing your home is to determine just how many cabinets you need to secure. The best way to do this is to view your home from your child's level. It's easy to overlook cabinets that are within your child's reach as you walk through your house. Crawling through your house will put you at your child's eye level and prevent you from overlooking cabinets that would be within your child's reach and may pose a threat to your child. Once you have determined just how many and what type of cabinets you need to secure you can begin to explore the various options available to you to determine what type of lock will work best in your home.

Adhesive mounted locks are ideal for securing cabinet doors in situations where drilling into the cabinets is not possible such as in a rental situation or with glass or metal doors. The advantages to this type of luck are that they don't involve any tools for installation and they are able to removed without damaging the doors. These locks operate with a spring-loaded hook and catch type system where the hook is installed on the back of the cabinet doors and the catch is installed on the door frame. This system allows the cabinet to only open about an inch unless the latch is pushed down before hook engages the catch. These type of locks prevent a child from fully opening a cabinet but the disadvantage is that the cabinet is able to open slightly with the lock engaged which could result in the child's fingers being pinched.

Screw mounted locks work very similarly to the adhesive mounted locks. They also operate with a spring loaded hook and latch system. The difference between the two is that these are mounted to the cabinet with screws. This makes installation slightly more difficult and also results in permanent screw holes being left behind if you decide to remove the lock. The advantage to this type of lock is that the cabinets cannot be opened unless the latch is pushed down before the hook engages the catch. Since many young children lack the dexterity to do this, the locks are effective for keeping a child from opening the cabinets. The disadvantage to these locks is that they do allow the cabinet to open slightly when the lock is engaged with can allow a child to sneak a finger or two into the cabinet and potentially either remove small items from the cabinet or have the cabinet close on their hand or finger.

Magnetic locks utilize the power of magnets to prevent your child from being able to open cabinets. The advantages to this type of lock are that once it is installed, the cabinet can only be opened with the use of a key and also that the lock is completely concealed when the cabinet is closed. Another advantage is that these locks include a disengage feature so that you can shut off the safety lock when it is no longer needed instead of uninstalling it. The disadvantage to this type of lock is that it can be tricky to install. It is crucial that you align the magnetic portions to the back of the cabinet and the frame so that the magnetic lock will work properly. It is recommended that if you use this type of lock, that you purchase two keys in case you misplace one or inadvertently lock one in the cabinet.

Locking straps are ideal for keeping cabinets and appliance doors closed. They secure to two sides of the cabinet or appliance with adhesive or screws and have an adjustable strap with a buckle that holds the door shut. The advantages to this type of lock are that it is effective because most young children lack the dexterity to open the buckle and that it is easy to install. The disadvantage to this type of a lock is that it is highly visible because the straps are mounted to the outside of the cabinet. Another disadvantage is that you need to install straps at both the top and bottom of the cabinet to prevent the door from being partially opened.

While most commercial cabinet locks available are highly effective, none of them are a substitute for closely supervising your child. Even the most effective lock can fail to keep a curious and determined child out of a cabinet. In addition to installing cabinet locks, parents should also take other precautions to ensure their child's safety such as storing potentially harmful products in cabinets that will be out of your child's reach and never leaving your child unattended in an environment where their curiosity can lead them into a dangerous situation.

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