My daughter’s new favorite spot in the kitchen (besides her kitchen play area): the controls on the dishwasher.
So that’s why when a childproofer recently came by our home to help us with babyproofing, I asked him what we should do to safeguard the appliance. His three easy, and free-to-implement, tips (among the many frugal childproofing tricks he taught me) are the subject of today’s hint.
1.) Pay attention to how you load the dishwasher. The childproofer from the Bay Area Safety Nook firm recommended loading breakables like glass, ceramics and other more dangerous items (think forks) further back in the dishwasher. This way if your child does happen to open the dishwasher, or if the dishwasher is open while he or she is around, it’s harder to access these items. Such inaccessibility may possibly lower the chances of broken glasses and injuries.
In addition, he advised washing knives by hand and them putting them right back away in the knife block or drawer rather than putting them in the dishwasher (though if they must go in the dishwasher, make sure they’re in the back, he said).
2.) Make sure to keep the dishwasher completely shut when a child is around. According to the childproofer, the latch handles on many dishwashers are too hard for a toddler to open, assuming the latch is properly and completely shut (let me know in the comments section below if you’ve had experiences to the contrary), so he advised making sure not to leave the dishwasher door open when a child is around. In addition, as the The Bump points out, some dishwasher models (though not our 1990s appliance) come with locks so be sure to see if yours has one. Though, just in case your child somehow gets into the dishwasher, don’t put dishwasher detergent in until you’re ready to turn the appliance on, advises Baby Center.
3.) Don’t worry if your child washes the dishes a few extra times. As long as the dishwasher is fully shut, the childproofer said not to worry if my daughter plays with the buttons on the front and turns the appliance on or off. “It’s not the end of the world if she cleans the dishes a few times,” he said, though of course this will add to your water bill. In addition, according to Safety Nook, some newer dishwasher models also have control locks designed to prevent a toddler from starting the machine so check to see if yours has one (or if you’re in the market for a machine, you can look for this feature).
To be sure, these tricks may not work for all dishwasher models or all kids, and you may need to improvise like some parents do, and figure out a creative lock or opt for a locking strap (like this one Good Housekeeping recommends). Some models also may not even require tip #3 (in our old apartment, we had a dishwasher where the controls where on the top of the door so they weren’t accessible when the door was closed).
Finally, clearly the easiest way to childproof any dishwasher – and any appliance in the kitchen – is simply to keep a tot out of the room with a gate, as some parents commenting on the site Parent Hacks pointed out last year, a technique you may have to employ if you have a real wild child who likes to surprise you with, say, knives.
Keeping your child on the other side of the gate, however, is easier said than done, especially when parents both want to clean at the same time or only one parent is around to clean. Of course, there’s also always the option of setting up a baby jail (like this one that we have) in the kitchen, something a friend of mine recently did.
What are your strategies and tips for childproofing a dishwasher and the kitchen in general?