02.Cupboards and drawers
If you decide you do need a safety device to secure a cupboard, door or other area, here’s what to look for. With all these, the key requirement is that it’s too hard for your toddler to operate but easy for you. As far as possible, don’t let your child see how to operate the lock; they’ll learn faster than you think!
Two brands dominate this market: Safety 1st and Dreambaby. Another brand, Perma, can be found in Bunnings.
We aren't recommending any particular brands or models, since all of them are potentially useful in the right circumstances. A device that is ineffective on one cupboard may work well elsewhere. One child may figure out how to overcome a given lock, while another child can't. You need to choose devices to suit your particular needs.
Note: If you rent your home, ask the landlord or agent for permission to install any permanent locks or other devices. They shouldn’t refuse reasonable requests, but may require you to uninstall the devices when you leave.
Many locks and latches are attached with adhesive fasteners rather than screws. Our test found some that didn’t stick on securely, possibly due to the product having been on shelves for some time and the adhesive deteriorating. Check the device is firmly attached by pushing and pulling in all directions once attached. The flipside is that some aren’t easy to remove, should you decide to do this once the kids have grown up enough; the adhesive pad can be left behind or mark the surface. Removable adhesive pads could be a good option, especially in rented homes.
Cupboard door locks
Types include sliding ratchet locks that loop around door handles, and locks that fasten to each door and connect with a flexible or rigid bar or loop. Choose one that suits the handle or door design; if you can detach the lock with a bit of determined jiggling or pulling, so might a toddler. The lock should require some strength and dexterity to operate; enough to make it too hard for a child but not so it’s too annoying for you. Locks that require multiple separate actions, such as pressing and sliding, are best. Most of these locks will still allow the doors to open a little, creating a gap that could pinch little fingers.
Internal catches that are usually installed with screws. Angle locks can be used as weither door or drawer locks, depending on the design and location of the cabinet. There are several drawer lock designs available, including magnetic handles. With these, a magnet is fastened to the inside of the drawer and the drawer handle removed; a separate magnetic handle is used, which can be kept out of reach of children. Drawer locks can be fiddly to install and may take some getting used to for the adult, but are a secure option.