Baby kitchen safety is important for every parent to consider. Learn 5 crucial ways to keep your baby or toddler safe in the kitchen.
I knew the “baby” days were over when I set my eldest down on a blanket, turned to fetch something, and saw he had crawled to the other side of the room.
Long gone were the days of laying him in one place and knowing he’d stay put. Now he was more mobile—and more curious—than ever.
One of my biggest concerns was our kitchen. Many parents, myself included, spend a ton of time in the kitchen and its multitude of electrical appliances. We’re also often focused on something, from reading a recipe, loading the dishwasher, or putting food away.
We don’t always have the luxury (or the desire) to hover over our babies every second.
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Baby kitchen safety tips
That’s why I’m a fan of making the home environment conducive to your baby. This doesn’t mean turning your home into one large padded room with baby monitors galore. Nor does it mean we don’t keep an eye on our kids—supervision is always a must. Instead, it’s about allowing her to explore without your constant hovering and giving her the autonomy and space to explore safely.
When it comes to the kitchen, I have a few tricks to do exactly that. After having three boys who wanted to get into just about everything, these tips are a must to keep babies safe and honor their curiosity:
1. See the kitchen from your child’s point of view
Take a look through your kitchen and it’s easy to assume everything is safe, with the plugs covered, hot foods covered, and the knives out of reach. But dig deeper to see what the kitchen looks like from your baby’s point of view.
Maybe you have your kitchen knife resting on a chopping board… the same chopping board that happens to be sticking out over the edge of the counter. One little bat of the hand, and not only can that board come flying down, but the knife, too, and anything else on top of it.
Just because he can’t access it the way you do, that doesn’t mean he can’t find other ways to get a hold of it.
Be mindful of your counters and what he can reach. Can he pull on the blender or toaster cord or reach the pot handles on the stove burners? Is there a basket of plastic bags within reach? Can he open the knob to the cabinet that contains potential hazards like chemicals or liquids?
From trash cans to small appliances, out of sight may not always mean out of reach.
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2. Sweep and mop kitchen floors often
Is your baby tempted to put things in his mouth? From coins to old food bits to forgotten grains and beans, your kitchen floor may have items he could potentially put in his mouth. A bean can remain hidden from you tucked under a corner, but not always to him.
Not only that, but kitchen floors aren’t always the cleanest when neglected. Think about all the things that fell on the floor before making their way to the trash, or the juices from raw meat as you transferred it from sink to counter.
And since babies love to crawl, the kitchen floor can be that much ickier when you don’t regularly sweep and mop.
3. Block the kitchen off with a safety gate
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One of the easiest ways to make sure your baby stays safe in the kitchen is to block it off in the first place. I used safety gates to keep my babies and eventually toddlers from entering the kitchen.
Maybe you need to concentrate on cooking and can’t keep an eye on your baby, or you plan to keep the oven on for several hours. If you don’t need him with you in the kitchen, you might be better off using a baby gate to keep him out.
I especially like pressure-mounted safety gates that you don’t have to drill into walls. They withstood three boisterous toddlers and not once did it come down. Plus, they come with a walk-through lock you can open and close—no need to hop or climb over anything.
Safety gates also work in other ways, like if you need to block a set of stairs or want to keep the front door open without worrying that your baby might walk out.
You can also use long safety gates to section off an area in your home. These gates can serve as a play yard—place your baby in here with a few safe toys to keep him entertained. Or vice versa: section off an area you’d rather he not touch, such as the media center or tall bookcases.
4. Babyproof the kitchen
If you’re like me, the bottom of your kitchen sink houses your cleaning supplies and who knows what else. Your baby may be able to now open these doors and access items you’d rather he not.
The first step is to move dangerous items away from the bottom cupboards and drawers. Sharp utensils and scissors should remain high and out of reach, or locked shut. Swap heavy glass bowls with kitchen rags (in fact, you can designate a drawer just for him to fiddle with that includes baby-safe items).
Then, lock any cabinets and drawers that are still within reach with safety latches, especially those that contain items you don’t want your baby to touch.
All our breakables are stored high in the top cabinets and shelves, while simple utensils and towels remain on the bottom. When we had no choice but to keep items where they were (for instance, utensils in a drawer), we attached safety locks to keep them inaccessible to children.
Keep electrical cords tied up and out of the way. And finally, make sure to use outlet covers on any electrical outlets lower to the ground.
5. Cook when your baby isn’t around
I only felt comfortable enough to cook with the kids around when they were a bit older. They can now entertain themselves in the living room while I get dinner started for the night.
But when they were babies, I would often cook when they’d gone to bed or if my husband was home and could keep them away from the kitchen. I never liked the feeling of trying to follow recipe instructions while also keeping an eye on three little kids.
If you can, set aside time to cook when the baby isn’t nearby. If not, try to do the heavy prep work when he’s asleep or out of the room, then do the actual cooking closer to dinner time. You can save a ton of headaches by reserving deep work for when he’s not around.
Baby kitchen safety is a top priority, not only because it keeps your baby safe, but it also respects his desire to explore in a safe environment.
Be aware of what he can access: a knife may be out of reach, but not when it’s on top of a chopping board with a corner sticking out. Sweep and mop kitchen floors often to avoid him accidentally swallowing bits.
Lock bottom cabinets and drawers. Those containing cleaning supplies or heavy items can, when pulled too far, topple over (like a drawer of utensils). Try to cook or at least meal prep when he’s asleep or elsewhere at home.
And finally, use safety gates to block the kitchen completely. This was by far the best way I was able to get in and out of the kitchen and get things done knowing my kids were safely out of the way.
The “baby” days may be over and you just might find your once stationary little one crawling and clamoring. But with the right baby kitchen safety tactics in place, he now has the space and safety to explore.
Get more tips:
- How to Set Limits with Your Baby (And Almost Toddler)
- How to Manage Being Alone with the Baby
- Getting Things Done with a Baby
- How to Entertain Your Baby
- Is Your Baby Starting to Be Mobile? How to Baby Proof Your Home
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