Q: What should I keep in mind while babyproofing the kitchen?
A: You're often distracted while you're in this room, what with cooking and cleaning, so you want to be sure your child can't get into trouble if you turn your back for a second. First, reorganize. If you have cleaning supplies and detergents in low cabinets, move them to the very top ones instead. Bottom cabinets (even if you use safety latches) should hold things that are safe for baby to find -- pots and pans, plastic containers, and paper products, for instance. The same goes for drawers -- move plastic and paper bags (suffocation hazards) and anything sharp to high drawers, and put safe things lower. If you use vitamin or mineral supplements, keep them in a hard-to-reach drawer or cabinet with a safety latch -- they look like candy and can poison a curious kid. (Child-resistant caps aren't foolproof; they just take a persistent toddler a little longer to open.) You may want to place choking hazards, such as magnets, up high too. Last, unplug small appliances (toasters, coffeepots) when not in use, but don't let the cords dangle. And if you haven't already done so, pick up these items for your kitchen:• Latches for cabinets and drawers that contain harmful products (once your baby can climb, he can reach anything)• Stove-knob covers, to prevent baby from turning on the burners• Nonskid pads for rugsWhen you're cooking in the kitchen, be sure to use the stove's back burners whenever possible, and turn all pot handles away from the edge. It's also best to skip tablecloths, which babies and toddlers love to tug on. --Jessica Hartshorn
Originally published in American Baby magazine, September 2004. Updated 2009.