Locks and Latches, Part 1: The refrigerator

First, I should mention, for anyone following along, that my posts here will be sporadic. I might post several times in a week, or I might go a month without posting. Welcome to my unpredictable life.

One of the trickiest things about a child who is not verbal, but who is also not small any more, is that they can get into things. And get out of things. As they get bigger and smarter, the childproofing aisle of your local big box store becomes inadequate. Flimsy plastic tabs are great for toddlers, but can’t always hold up to big kids. And if you have a wanderer, it’s even more critical to find solutions.

I thought I’d cover a couple of things we’ve come up with in our house to keep our daughter out of trouble.

First, the fridge. Our little girl loves ketchup. Loves it. Also, barbecue sauce. And ranch dressing. Anyway, the way she expresses her love is to open the bottle and squeeze it onto the table, the floor, herself, and anything else she can find, and then dips her hand in it and licks it. It’s just the slightest bit messy.

Since we can’t maintain eyes on her at every moment of every day, and since she’s not one to miss a good ketchup opportunity, we had to find a ketchup containment solution. 

[Side note: ketchup packets are a good solution for that specific problem. The more general problem of helping herself to any and all messy liquids and sauces is actually what we’re tackling here.]

So, short of not keeping anything messy in the refrigerator, the best solution we could come up with was a way to secure the fridge somehow. We used the childproof slide-in latches for a little while, but she’s too strong for them now. So after a trip to the hardware store, here’s what I came up with:


The key for this lock is on a string, tucked into the old plastic latch from the previous childproof lock. I just screwed it right into the fridge itself, and it’s held up well.

Easy enough to unlock:


Now I should mention that we do not keep this locked at all times. We lock it only if there’s something she really wants to make a mess with in there, and we’re not able to keep an eye on her. It’s too much of a pain to have to get the key out every time you want to open the fridge. But at least we have the ability to lock it when the need arises.

Also, one of our daughter’s care providers is actually a manager for social services in a neighboring county. We ask her about policies and regulations from time to time, and she told us that from a social services perspective, leaving it locked all the time would be a problem. Something about preventing a child from having access to food — you know how goofy rules and regulations can be for things like this. I imagine if you needed to keep it locked, that’s mostly your business, but I wanted to mention anyway.

So, a trip to the hardware store, a price tag of under $10, and under 10 minutes to install, and it’s held up and worked well for us. I hope somebody else out there finds this helpful as well.


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