5 Kid-proofing Musts for Your Kitchen

By: Chris Obenschain

The kitchen can be a fun place for a child to learn and interact with you, but it has quite a few dangers lurking around every countertop and cabinet. See more pictures of kid-friendly recipes.
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Kids get into everything. Regardless if your little one is a model infant or the most troublesome toddler, you can never be too careful in the kitchen. Kitchens are filled with dangerous -- even deadly -- items, and, statistically speaking, this room is one of the most hazardous areas for your child to be.

In the United States, more than 4.5 million children are unintentionally injured every year in the home. The majority of those injuries, both fatal and nonfatal, occur in children 4 years of age or younger, and many of these accidents happen in the kitchen [source: Riley Hospital for Children].


In this article, we'll go over five of the most important techniques for making the kitchen a safer place for your kids. We'll explain why you might want to forgo using a tablecloth, and we'll help you find a safe place to store your cutlery. Click over to the next page to see why it might be a good idea to move your fancy china into the garage.

5: Move Hazardous Chemicals Out of Reach

If your tot is mobile, be mindful of where you store your cleaning products. Small children are attracted to the often sweet-smelling, brightly colored bottles of soaps, pesticides and chemical solvents many of us keep underneath the sink.

While standard childproof locks on cabinet doors keep out very young children, enterprising toddlers can often get past these simple deterrents and put their hands on toxic products in just a few seconds. Therefore, it's important to take preventive measures to ensure that your little one stays out of harm's way.


Instead of keeping hazardous chemicals underneath the sink, move them -- and the childproof locks -- to a higher cabinet. If you're short on shelving space, move lesser-used items, such as china, out of the kitchen completely. Find space for china in a hall closet or even in the garage. Relegating the fancy plates to the shelf above the lawnmower may be inconvenient when the holiday season rolls around and you're using them more frequently, but that's an easy sacrifice to make for your child's year-round safety.

4: Put Sharp Objects in Storage

Your child has no idea how to handle a knife properly. So, keep them out of reach.
Your child has no idea how to handle a knife properly. So, keep them out of reach.
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Knives present the most obvious threat to children in the kitchen. They are an integral part of everyday cooking, but can cause severe or life-threatening injuries if they fall into kids' clumsy hands. However, there are proactive measures you can take to prevent any cutlery-related mishaps.

Children are extremely curious and surprisingly mobile -- many are even adept climbers -- so say goodbye to the convenience of having a knife set resting on your countertop. Instead, all knives need to be kept in a special childproof drawer.


While cooking, be sure to place the knives you're using toward the back of the counter (away from the edge and any investigating little fingers) with the blade facing the wall. Similarly, when washing knives in the dishwasher, keep them point-down in the silverware tray, and promptly return them to their allocated drawer after the cycle is completed.

3: Forget the Tablecloth

Sometimes, when you have children, you give up the dream of your home ever looking like the ones in interior design magazines. Toys litter the living room floor, there's a permanent juice stain on some area of the carpet, and your custom-designed kitchen cabinets are clamped shut with plastic locks. Your eat-in kitchen will also lose a bit of its glamour with this tip. A tablecloth may add a nice finishing touch to your elegant table, but if you have a small child wandering around, this seemingly innocuous linen can be extremely dangerous. All it takes is a single tug, and your tablecloth, as well as everything on it, can come crashing down onto an unsuspecting child. Knives, plates, heavy pots and hot pans may be resting on your table at any given time, so simply not using a tablecloth can prevent many potential accidents. Your table may not look particularly fashionable, but that's a small price to pay to keep your little ones safe.


2: Hide the Cord

Little hands love to grope around on tall counters. Ensure that no dangling cords lead to disaster in the kitchen.
Little hands love to grope around on tall counters. Ensure that no dangling cords lead to disaster in the kitchen.
Diamond Sky Images/Getty Images

Kitchen appliances often lack child safety features, and because many of these devices, such as coffee makers, toasters and blenders, are used frequently or even on a daily basis, they're typically stored on the kitchen counter. These machines pose a significant risk to small children, so it's important to keep them unplugged with their cords safely stashed away. That way, the devices remain inoperable and can't be pulled down by curious, unwitting little hands. Even when these machines are in use, you should make sure no part of the cord is hanging over the edge of the counter or anywhere a child's tiny fingers can reach.


1: Use a Safety Gate

There are countless ways to reduce the risk of child-related injuries in the kitchen, but the surest method to keep curious youngsters out of harm's way is to simply prevent them from entering the room in the first place. Baby-barring gates are available in a variety of sizes and price ranges, so you never have to worry about your little wanders embarking upon unsupervised exploratory kitchen expeditions. You can get standard safety gates that you have to step over when entering or exiting the room, or you can get one that acts as a miniature, adults-only doorway that you can open, but your baby or toddler can't get past.

If you'd rather not be constantly stepping over or opening a baby gate, another option is placing your tot inside a portable, gated play area within sight of the kitchen. This way, you can keep an eye on your little one while you cook. You'll be able to move around freely, and the fact that you're still visible will hopefully prevent him or her from shedding any tears.


Lots More Information

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  • Babycenter. "Childproofing Your Kitchen." 2009. (Sept. 16, 2009).http://www.babycenter.com/0_childproofing-your-kitchen_755.bc
  • Bronstein, Alvin C., Daniel A. Spyker, Louis R. Cantilena JR., Jody L. Green, Barry H. Rumack and Stuart E. Heard. "Clinical Toxicology: 2007 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 25th Annual Report." Dec. 22, 2008. (Sept. 16, 2009).http://www.aapcc.org/DNN/Portals/0/NPDS%20reports/2008%20AAPCC%20Annual%20Report.pdf
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Protect the Ones You Love: Poisonings." 2009. (Sept. 16, 2009).http://www.cdc.gov/safechild/poisoning/default.htm
  • City of Phoenix. "Kitchen Safety." 2009. (Sept. 16, 2009).http://www.ci.phoenix.az.us/FIRE/kitchen.html
  • Drago, Dorothy A. "From Crib to Kindergarten: The Essential Child Safety Guide."What's Cooking? Safety in the Kitchen." 2007. John Hopkins University Press.
  • Riley Hospital for Children. "Room-by-Room Checklist." 2009. (Sept. 16, 2009).http://rileychildrenshospital.com/parents-and-patients/caring-for-kids/roombyroom.jsp
  • Whitford, Fred, Amy Brown, Lynn Ballentine, Bill Field, Kelly Pearson and Arlene Blessing. "Children and Poisoning: Seconds Matter." Perdue. 2001. (Sept. 16, 2009).http://www.btny.purdue.edu/pubs/PPP/PPP-53.pdf