Child Proofing Your Folding French Doors
Internal French folding doors make a stunning addition to any living area. They let light flow into the room, and they offer a nice balance between the privacy of separate rooms, and open-plan living when you need it. The wider entrance way also proves handy when attempting to carry multiple objects around the house.
While folding French doors look the part when you have a child, your life will change – and one of the first ways that you will see that change manifest itself is in the layout of your home. You will learn that children can get just about anywhere and soon you’ll start considering childproof measures - and that includes making sure that your doors are safe.
Modern French doors are actually quite safe out of the box. They usually come with safety glass that won’t break or shatter easily, and the folding design of the door is one of the safest opening styles. If you want to take extra precaution however there’s a few additional babyproofing measures you can take.
Keeping Your Home Baby Safe
Folding French doors have a few benefits for parents. The large glass panels make it easy for you to keep an eye on your child through the glass while you’re in a different room. This is ideal if you’re cooking in the kitchen and don’t want to leave them out of your sight, but don’t want them crawling around in harm’s way either.
As with all windows and doors however children may get curious and there’s a few things you might want to consider to ensure they stay safe when playing.
Stopping Your Child from Using the Door
Children are naturally curious, and this means that they’re going to try to open doors and see what’s on the other side, especially if you or family members are in the other room. It’s a good idea to find a child-safe way of locking doors so that your child doesn’t go somewhere that they shouldn’t be. This is particularly true if you are using French doors to act as a barrier between the living room and the kitchen.
Another issue you might find if your child tries to open the doors is they could trap their fingers in the hinges. This is unlikely with most modern designs because they won’t be strong enough to open the door while having a hand somewhere that could get caught, but it’s still worth making sure that the door locks, just to be careful.
The challenge is finding a way to secure the door that your child can’t bypass, but that is convenient for you. Many ‘childproof’ mechanisms are easy for a bright child to figure out, but irritating enough to get in the way of an adult using the door on a day to day basis. If you’re not keen on locking your doors you might want to consider the different opening mechanisms.
Closing the Door
There are many options out there for making doors that children can’t open – these include round doorknobs that require a strong ‘pinch’ in order to be turned, handles that need squeezed before they will operate, and ‘door monkey’s that will clip onto the door frame above the handle, and that must be pulled to un-latch them.
The door handles and knobs are easy for children to figure out once they reach a certain size – they pose no technical challenge to operation, but they will require a certain amount of pressure applied to the mechanism, and this is what makes them hard for kids to use. Door monkeys are perhaps the best solution, because they are strong enough that even a toddler would struggle with them, and they can be positioned at any height, meaning that they can be used to stop slightly older children from operating a door. In addition, they will keep the door ever so slightly open, allowing fresh air to flow through the room, and preventing a child’s fingers from getting caught in the door.
Hinges and Rollers
Hinge straps are a handy addition to any door. These clip onto the hinges and will stop your child from getting his or her fingers caught in the hinge itself. They’re a handy way of protecting your child without stopping the door from moving freely. You can also get decorative straps to improve the appearance of your hinges.
Slam Proof Your Door
Folding French doors open outwards and while, if fitted correctly, they shouldn’t slam shut you might want to take measures to ensure your child doesn’t trap their fingers when closing the door.
Slam stoppers can be used to keep the door safe – these wrap around the outer edge of the door, and act as a buffer, so that the door doesn’t completely shut. They are soft and will protect your child’s fingers, ensuring that they don’t get crushed in the door.
Make the Glass Obvious
Children tend to run around without thinking. They have a lot of energy, and they’re not always completely aware of their surroundings. If you have a door which has a single large glass pane, it might not be immediately obvious that the glass is even there. While modern glass doors are designed to be as safe as possible, and the glass is unlikely to break, it’s still not fun to run into a solid surface. Consider using fun, bright stickers to make the glass stand out, so that your child notices that there’s an obstruction in the way. If you put a sticker at their height level they are more likely to notice the glass before any accidents happen. If you’re considering safety before buying new doors you could also opt for decorative glass panels – glass that features designs, glass windows that have a panel design and are framed by solid oak, or perhaps even consider frosted glass. These are more noticeable glass options and will help your child to recognise the glass when moving around the home.
Babyproofing a property takes time and planning, and it’s important to remember that what works for one child might not work for another. Children are inquisitive and they learn by watching what adults do, so they will quickly learn to bypass any “child proofing” that relies on performing a task a particular way. The best ‘security’ relies on a bit of strength and coordination, but the downside to this is that such “child proofing” can be slightly fiddly to operate. If you’re accustomed to using your elbow to nudge open the door while you’re carrying a load of washing, then you might find adjusting to the new child proofing features takes a little while.