Updated March 2017
No matter how many great toys your kid has, none of them are as interesting as the box of open pasta, flour or chocolate sauce lurking in the food pantry. You see, it’s natural for infants and toddlers to explore and, well, dump stuff everywhere. This YouTube-worthy moment can be laughed off, but the risk of injury or accidents involving unsecured cabinets and drawers is real.
Yup, it’s time for mother (and daddy’s) little helper: child safety locks. Quick to install and easy on the pocketbook, these simple devices are worth their weight in gold.
Types of Cabinet and Drawer Safety Locks
Each has its own pros and cons…
1. Magnetic Safety Locks
Magnetic cabinet locks mount to the inside of your cabinet, so they are the least invasive in the “aesthetics” department. Magnetic locks use powerful magnets to keep cabinets and drawers closed with a magnetic “key,” of sorts, to engage and disengage the locking mechanism. See a quick video of this here.
These come in packages of 4 or 8 locks to one (or two) keys, so you can install them across a wide range of cabinets (and drawers).
A unique feature of magnetic locks is that you keep them in “unlock mode” for any period of time, which allows you to quickly whip up some dinner without having to unlock drawers and cabinets every time – or for the years between kids when you don’t need them. They’re also great for grandparents who only need them engaged while grandkids are visiting. Yes, magnetic locks are the most flexible type of lock in the long term.
Baby brain: buy an extra key (just in case).
I can see these being used years down the line to keep teens out of liquor cabinets and such (only partially kidding…).
Another benefit to magnetic locks is that they hold the door completely closed, which prevents pinching of little fingers (other locks are notorious for partially opening and allowing fingers to be pinched).
On the downside, magnetic locks are a bit tedious to install, as they require a precision fit. In the past, only babyproofing professionals would install these, but now anyone can buy them off the shelf.
Another con: needing a key (or something else that can get lost) to open your cabinets and drawers every time is a pain.
At the end of the day, if you can get over the tedious installation, most people who have magnetic locks are happy with them.
What people say:
“I can disable the locks when I’m cooking up a meal so I don’t have to ‘unlock’ them every time.”
“They are completely invisible, as they are mounted to the inside of the cabinet door.”
“We like that we can disable the locks when the grandchildren aren’t here.”
“I stick the magnet key up high on the fridge so I always know where it is.”
Best Magnetic Cabinet Locks
- Safety Baby Magnetic Cabinet Locks – installed with 3M adhesive tape
- Safety 1st Magnetic Locking System Complete – installed with screws
Safety Baby Magnetic Cabinet Locks ~ $19 for 4 locks
Safety Baby Magnetic Cabinet Locks are our top pick for people who cannot screw into their cabinets (renters and such). These magnetic locks are very highly rated, though some complain the adhesive tape isn’t strong enough. They’re also easier to install than their hardware-mounted counterparts.
This set comes with 4 locks/1 key or 8 locks/2 keys (in case you lose one).
What people say:
“If the adhesive isn’t strong enough, you can use Gorilla Double sided tape.”
“They’re super easy to install with 3M adhesive, which means no drilling or putting holes in your cabinets. No screwdrivers required!”
“We rent and live in an apartment, so we aren’t allowed to use screws and bolts to keep our cabinets babyproofed and safe. These work well!”
Safety 1st Magnetic Locking System Complete ~ $16 for 4 locks
These work the same as the previous product except they’re installed with screws. Many feel this is a more secure installation (though more tedious to install). These come in packs of 2, 4 or 8 to one key. Lose the key? You can always order an extra.
Note for renters: these require hardware mounting inside of your cabinet.
What people say:
“What a pain to install, but worked great!”
“I saw one review that mentioned it would not lock sometimes. I suspect the locks weren’t well aligned. You have to be careful on the installation.”
“Held up over after a year of abuse from a very persistent four and two-year-old.
2. Adhesive Mount Cabinet Locks
Adhesive locks can be used for babyproofing just about anything – cabinets, drawers, stoves, microwaves, toilets — you name it. Simple, inexpensive and renter-friendly, these strap locks include adhesives that remove easily (well, relatively easy) without damaging surfaces.
Don’t forget to clean and dry the surface thoroughly (with rubbing alcohol) where you’ll be placing the sticky pads. After placing the adhesives, allow 24 hours to set before applying pressure. When removing, Goo Gone works miracles to remove sticky residue.
These are the simplest locks to install, though they are visually distracting, especially if using a lot of them. Though a little pricier, these are also a good choice for items or furniture that can’t be drilled into.
Best Adhesive Strap Locks
I used these on all my drawers at home including our nightstands (antiques that I really didn’t want to drill into). Also: I don’t have the patience for keys, LOL.
The flexible strap allows for latching around any corner. The latches release and swivel out of the way when not in use.
WONDERKID Adjustable Child Safety Locks ~ $14 for 6
A lesser-known brand, Wonderkid also makes an awesome adhesive lock. These have one side that’s adjustable from 4 to 7.5 inches, which allows you to get a tighter installation for drawers and such. Bonus: these have a dark brown option for those with dark furniture or cabinets.
3. Spring Action Locks
Spring action locks are the cheapest you can buy (as little as $1.50 ea.). And they work! These were hot in the 80’s when babyproofing first became a thing, but you see them less frequently these days. These use a simple spring you push down to open the cabinet or drawer.
KidCo Spring Action Cabinet Lock ~ $12 for 8
Like magnetic locks, these KidCo locks also have an “off” mode. This could also work well for grandparents who don’t want to invest very much in babyproofing. The benefit of these over magnetic locks is there is no key required; anyone with ample finger strength can get into them.
These are fairly easy to install, but you do have to pre-drill four holes for each lock, so it’s a bit time consuming. Many have noted the accompanying screws aren’t the best quality, so be sure not to strip them.
Don’t underestimate these, people. They’re cheap and they work. Best of all, no key required!
4. Cord and Slide Locks for Side by Side Cabinets
There are many double door cabinets with opposing knobs right next to each other. Essentially, you’re tying the two knobs together (with a device) so they can’t be pulled open.
This situation makes for easy and non-invasive babyproofing with a “corded lock” or “slide lock.” Heck, in a pinch, you can even use a strong rubber band.
There are locks for round knobs or straight handles. They also work well for grandparents needing a temporary (and no-installation-required) solution for tiny, curious visitors.
Pros: Cheap. No installation required (no drilling, no adhesive, no damage to cabinets). Also great for travel!
Cons: They’re the least visually appealing. They can be a bit of a pain to get in and out of each time, so they’re better for less frequently used cabinets, like your china cabinet. As a practical matter, these run the highest risk of not being replaced by the person who took them off (ahem), so I wouldn’t use them in critical areas, like the cabinets that hold your cleaning supplies.
Safety 1st OutSmart Slide Lock ~ $5/ea
The Safety 1st Outsmart line is clever — all of the products have a decoy button (which does nothing), but gives your kiddo a distraction while they’re trying to bust into your cabinets (the real buttons are on the back side). This simple “slide lock” fits on both knobs and pulls off. Easy peasy.
Kiscords Baby Safety Cabinet Locks for Knobs ~ $12 for 5
We chose this brand because it’s highly rated and very affordable. You can get a pack of five for about $10, which is a great bargain. They make one for knobs and one for handles (below).
These work for any handles (with closed ends) between 1-5/8″ and 7″ apart. Opens easily and hangs in place to be re-secured.
That’s all folks, happy babyproofing!
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