Baby on the way?
Better get to baby-proofing the house!
Beyond setting up the nursery, this is one of the most involved and time-consuming aspects of getting your home ready for a baby.
Seriously, you’d be amazed at how many things need attention and could be dangerous if not addressed.
There’s the TV and TV stand. Electrical outlets. Doors. You name it.
Then, of course, there’s your kitchen and kitchen cabinets. You can drill some simple hardware directly into the cabinets themselves, but there are lots of good reasons you might not want to do that.
So how do you baby-proof your kitchen cabinets without drilling?
The best way to baby-proof your cabinets without drilling is to simply use a rubber band or special kitchen cabinet cord locks around your cabinet knobs. They’re easy to use, versatile, and don’t have any risk of damaging your cabinets.
(Hit that link to see my favorites on Amazon.)
But you can also use:
- Adhesive cabinet locks
- Sliding cabinet locks
- Spring release latches (on the inside or outside)
Or if you don’t find anything you like, you can always baby-proof your kitchen cabinets by moving anything dangerous to upper shelves that are out of reach.
There are lots of options, so let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each.
Why you might want to use no-drill cabinet locks for baby-proofing
Full disclosure: In my own house, I installed magnetic kitchen cabinet locks that had to be permanently attached with a drill.
The good thing about these kinds of safety latches is that they’re SUPER secure.
As long as I don’t lose that magnetic key (which is a real risk), those locks should work forever and ever and ever.
But there are also a few reasons I kind of wish I had opted for a no-drill install instead.
Risk of cabinet damage:
This one is pretty obvious.
No matter what else happens in my life, there are now permanent drill holes in all of my lower cabinet doors.
That’s not super ideal!
Granted, the holes are on the inside and won’t be visible if I ever do decide to take the locking hardware off, but in that scenario, I’d really prefer to not have to maybe patch those holes one day.
Easy to screw up:
This goes along with point number one.
But if you don’t get your hardware lined up properly before you drill, you could risk drilling extra needless holes in your cabinets.
Or worse, you could accidentally drill through the front and wind up with a hideously mangled cabinet door.
If you’re not all that handy, this is one job you’d probably rather not tackle.
Not easily moved to new cabinets:
I feel like most people have a dream of someday replacing their kitchen cabinets.
If you do achieve that dream one day, permanently installed hardware locks can be taken off and moved to the new cabinets, but it’ll be quite a pain.
(And then you’ll have to drill into your pretty new cabinets!)
Adhesive or other less permanent installs can be either moved easily or just replaced without having to risk mangling the new cabinets.
Now here are a handful of my favorite alternatives to drill-mounting baby and toddler locks on your kitchen cabinets.
1. Adhesive magnetic cabinet locks
Probably the simplest alternative to drilling to install cabinet locks is choosing hardware that mounts with adhesive instead.
The good news? You can install an entire set in your kitchen in just a few minutes.
A lot of different kinds of cabinet locks will come with an adhesive option, but I am personally a fan of the magnetic key locking ones.
These pieces of safety hardware stick to the inside of your cabinet and will only open when you hold a small, magnetic key up to the latch.
They can often be temporarily locked open, too, which is really convenient when going in and out of the same cabinet frequently (while cooking, for example).
The downside to adhesive locks is that there’s a chance they’ll damage the paint job on the inside of your cabinet if you ever remove them or if you put them on wrong and need to adjust them.
- Main pros: Installs easily, quickly, and sticks securely for a long time.
- Main cons: Can damage the paint on your cabinet, or you could lose the magnetic key
Here’s a really nice set of 12 adhesive cabinet locks on Amazon you can check out.
2. Rubber bands or cabinet cords around the handles
As I wrote above, I think this is probably my favorite way to secure your cabinets if you don’t want to drill.
It can be free, if you want!
Just take a rubber band and wrap it securely around two adjoining cabinet handles.
(This will only work with certain kinds of handles and cabinets that have two handles next to each other.)
If you want something a little more secure, you can go with some specially-made cords that wrap around your cabinet handles and zip tight. You simply push a button and slide the cord open in order to access the cabinet.
The potential downside here is that these are visible on the exterior of your cabinets, which can be a little ugly, and they’re probably the easiest for kids to figure out of all these options.
But they’re very simple to use for adults and aren’t likely to cause frustration, plus there’s no chance of them damaging your cabinets.
- Main pros: Easiest to install and use, no change of cabinet damage
- Main cons: Kids can figure them out, visible from the outside
Check out these really cool cabinet cord-locks on Amazon.
3. Sliding cabinet locks
Similar to using a cabinet cord or rubber band, but with added security, are sliding cabinet locks.
These pieces of safety hardware attach to the outside handles of the cabinets and lock shut.
These aren’t my favorite, because they’re even a little bit uglier than a cord, and the thin plastic can really wear down over time.
Additionally, a lot of these kinds of hardware come in two pieces, which means it can be easy to lose one half or the other!
But some people swear by these locks because they’re easy for adults to use and almost impossible for kids to figure out. Plus, they’ll never damage your cabinets and don’t require any drilling or adhesive whatsoever.
- Main pros: Really tough for kids to figure out, but easy enough for adults
- Main cons: Ugly and can be a little flimsy
Here’s a good set of these sliding cabinet locks on Amazon with great reviews.
4. Spring release latch (exterior)
These are one more step above the sliding exterior cabinet locks I just showed you.
I’m just gonna come right out and say it:
These are NOT my favorites!
Though they do have their advantages.
These are basically cords that go on the outside of your cabinets around the handle and have a very intense spring-release latching system in the middle.
They’re pretty ugly to look at, but they are damn-near impenetrable for children. Kids will not be able to figure these out.
The problem is… a lot of adults can’t either!
I’ve been to houses that had these locks on their cabinets and I have to say, they are REALLY difficult to use. I would avoid using them on any cabinets you tend to access a lot.
I’m sure it’s easier once you get the hang of it, but for my money, there are better options.
That said, if your kids are a little older or extremely crafty, these locks will stop them in their tracks.
- Main pros: Very difficult to open
- Main cons: Quite ugly, and difficult even for adults!
If you’re up for a challenge, check out a set of these impenetrable spring locks on Amazon.
5. Spring release latch (interior)
These are an excellent alternative to drill-mounted safety hardware, and there’s a great hidden interior option that doesn’t use magnets.
(I like the magnetic ones, but if you lose that key, you’re in serious trouble.)
Spring release latches attach inside your cabinet door with adhesive, and they have a little arm that juts backward into the cabinet.
That arm hooks onto the ledge of the cabinet interior and prevents it from being opened all the way. It will open about an inch or two, and then you’ll simply push the lever arm down with your finger to open it all the way.
These are SUPER easy to use and completely invisible from the outside. I love that about them.
The downside is that these aren’t the hardest locks for kids to figure out, and with a good yank, a lot of them will give.
But for simple baby proofing without drilling, this is a great option.
- Main pros: Installs with adhesive, incredibly easy to use for adults
- Main cons: Kids can figure them out, not as sturdy as some others
Here’s an excellent 8-pack of these spring latches on Amazon.
6. Don’t baby-proof at all! (But move dangerous items)
If none of these options strike your fancy, whether you’re just afraid your kids will figure them out, or you find them too ugly…
… you have another option.
Don’t lock your cabinets!
This might be kind of a pain, but it’s a good way to ensure your kids never get into anything dangerous.
Clear out your lower cabinets and put anything dangerous up high somewhere totally unreachable.
Clear out your cleaning chemicals, knives, and heavy, breakable dishes.
You can take your changes with pots and pans.
But everything else can go up high, way out of reach. That way, you won’t have to worry about your kids figuring out the cabinet locks when you’re not looking.
It might take some serious organizational changes, but it’s an option worth considering if you don’t want to drill and don’t want ugly exterior locks on your kitchen cabinets.
There are a ton of good drill-free cabinet lock options for baby-proofing your kitchen.
In fact, it seems that permanently drill-installed locks are becoming the minority!
You can choose from interior or exterior, adhesive, magnetic, and many more features.
For my money, if I were to start from scratch baby-proofing my kitchen, I’d go with something really simple like rubber bands or kitchen cabinet cords (Amazon link) around the handles.
But for really clever kids who seem to get into everything, you might want to try those intense, spring-latched cords I wrote about in #4. They’re not my favorite, but they are practically impossible to figure out!
Hope this helps, parents!
(And now, check out my guide to baby-proofing that pesky oven drawer.)