Having a baby can change a lot about the way you perceive the world – for example, before Baby came along, it was easy to think of the kitchen as a warm, welcoming environment. Now that he’s here, though, it’s a lot easier to look around the room and notice the hundreds of different kinds of trouble Baby could stick his little hands into if you turn your back on him for even a minute.
Dangerous or not, though, the kitchen isn’t somewhere you can really avoid, so it’s important to figure out a way to keep it Baby-safe during cooking, meal times, or any other point when he wanders in. This is especially important now that he is teetering on the edge of toddlerhood, and all of the potentially destructive curiosity that comes with it.
Kitchen-proofing for the toddler years
The gadgets and gizmos of toddler-proofing are important, including cabinet locks for storage spaces that hold sharp objects, heavy things and things with sharp edges, and especially for anywhere that stores cleaning products or spices. Oven locks and oven guards can also be helpful, and as Baby gets taller, covering sharp corners he could run into is also a good idea.
Beyond all the accessories of kitchen-proofing, though, there are a few changes that just have to do with your habits. It’s probably a good idea to go without tablecloths or placemats for a few years, for example, because anything on top of them can get pulled down right on top of Baby if he reaches out and grabs for them. When you’re cooking, using the back burners of the stovetops whenever you can manage to is a good precaution for avoiding burns. And when you do use the front burners of the stove, it helps to turn the handles of the pans around so they’re facing in towards the back of the stove, instead of hanging out over the edge and looking temptingly grabbable.
The placement of Baby’s high chair is also something to keep in mind – if it’s near enough to the table or counters, it carries the danger that Baby could reach or kick out and topple it over. Other than that, as long as the high chair has a harness, and Baby is always strapped into it, the high chair is one of the safest places for Baby to be in the kitchen when you need to be there.
If he isn’t up for many non-meal-time high chair hang-outs, and you think you’ll be distracted enough in the kitchen not to be able to keep a close eye on him, setting up a play pen or pack ‘n play in the kitchen can keep him out of sticky situations, as can a baby gate keeping him in another, safer room until you’re done in the kitchen.