Baby Gates and Door Locks (Got Locked Out of the Apartment by My Son)

Updated on March 11, 2013
V.K. asks from Chisago City, MN
15 answers

Earlier today I was doing laundry. The washer/dryer for our apartment building is in the basement (It's a 4-plex, so the basement really just means the level below me). Oliver was playing in his room so I put the baby gate up in the hallway to block him in. It's an extra tall baby gate that is tall that he is. I went downstairs to do laundry. He climbed over the baby gate, was fiddling with the door knob (I assume trying to open it so that he could come find me), and ended up locking me out. Talk about panic!!!

I could hear him laughing so I knew that he was okay, but I was imagining him getting all sorts of trouble - Breaking my new DSLR camera or spilling pop all over my laptop, perhaps?

My downstairs neighbor let me borrow his phone to call our landlord, but our landlord doesn't keep spare keys (Even though when we moved in he told us that he did). Before calling the police department, my neighbor suggested the credit card trick. I didn't think it would work but told him to go ahead and try...

Within 2 or 3 minutes he had used his Wal-mart gift card to break into my apartment... I'm obviously very very glad that we got back into my apartment, but it's just SO comforting to know that anyone can just break into my apartment. We have a deadbolt, but we never use it because the key has to stay in the lock when it's in use... So we can only use it when we are home. We will probably start doing that from now on, knowing just how easy it is to break in, but that doesn't help us while we are gone during the day.


Oh, and since Oliver can apparently climb over extra tall baby gates now... What are our next options? Double stack them? I'm mostly worried about him climbing over the gate during the night and getting into trouble.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Marda - Lol, no. I don't stay with the laundry while it washes... Just ran down, put it, run back up. I can't leave the key in the deadbolt when I'm not home... I can leave the key in the deadbolt on the INSIDE of the door when I'm home, but I can't leave it on the inside of the door when I'm not home (The door wouldn't even close after the dead bolt was locked) and I certainly can't leave the key on the outside part of the deadbolt when I'm not home. That would just make things easier.

My son is 2. He HATES having his bedroom door closed at night so we keep it open and baby gate the hallway.

Featured Answers


answers from Chicago on

Double stacking the baby gates does work--my friend did it a few months ago to his 2 yr old. It was genuis and sad at the same time, because the little boy's face just looked so defeated ;-) Mission accomplished.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from New York on

I would no longer leave him. Take him with you to do the laundry. Wrecking your camera or soda on your laptop are minor issues when you think about it. So much more could have happened.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Personally, and I know it can be a hassle, but take him with you. As far as your security, you will get plenty of suggestions. What if there was an emergency of some sort and you couldn't get to your child, or he couldn't get to you. Get a wagon, a cart, a stroller, something. Most likely, nothing will happen and you won't have an emergency. But for that teensy chance you do....I don't think it's worth it. The gate is for security when you are in the home and present. That is my view. If you walk out the front door, to go the neighbor's to borrow a cup of sugar, take him! Okay...if he is sleeping, take the baby monitor so you can hear him. Lastly, if my son wanted to get to me in the middle of the night, he just crawled down the hall and to me. I never gated him in because why...he could climb them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Bring your keys with you.

When I was a single parent, I used to have to lock my toddler boys in their room. For short periods of time, of course.

I flipped their doorknob around and locked it from the outside, so I could go and have a shower or take a #2 without worrying about them getting into dangerous stuff. ;-)

The one thing I learned: Always have a screwdriver hidden on the top shelf of their closet or risk being accidentally locked IN THEIR ROOM with them!

C. Lee

ETA: My boys were little too. They also hated having their door shut. They get over it. Their safety comes first. If your little one can climb a baby gate, you might as well have nothing there. Closing the door might seem mean, but it beats a baby falling down the apartment stairs, or falling on his head while climbing over a baby gate. I'll take a crying, angry baby over a severely injured one any day of the week.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Could you maybe put a screen door on his door?

Use the deadbolt when you're home for your own comfort. Ask the landlord about putting in an additional lock for child safety. Maybe you could get permission to install your own if they won't put one in on their dime.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I don't know how handy the people in your house are but there are a couple things which come to mind regarding your situation.

a) Replace the existing double keyed lock deadbolt with a key on one side (exterior) and a slide/knob on the other (interior). This will allow you to leave the apartment with a properly locked door. While inside your apartment, you can easily lock your door by turning the deadbolt knob. Put the key on a lanyard or key chain. When you go to leave to do laundry or whatever, you grab your key chain, lock your apartment and go about your business. No locking yourself out OR being locked out.

b) Instead of stacking baby gates you can purchase a new interior door which will come complete with the hinge cutouts in place (otherwise you'll have to cut them yourself). Cut the new interior door well above the door knob (think dutch door minus the top part). Tap out the hinge bolts on the existing door, switch the hinges from the old door to the new door (you'll only need two instead of three or four), switch the door knob to the new door, rehang the new half door. Now your son can see you but can't get out. Like a deluxe baby gate.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Get a new deadbolt you don't need to leave the key in, but put it high on the door where he can't reach it.

I stacked the baby gates and that worked. If you decide not to do that: a) take Oliver with you, (my advice) or b) childproof his room, put a latch lock on the top of the door on your side and close it with him inside the room. With smart kids YOU have to think ahead to possible scenarios and outsmart them before they think of it, you need to protect them.

And I would close his door at night after he's asleep so he doesn't freak out, with a door knob cover on the knob inside the room. Use packing tape to seal the seams so he can't pop it off, like I said, think ahead. Then you can stop using the gates, it sounds like they're losing their effectiveness. If he fiddled with the door he can fiddle with the gates and knock them loose, then what? Start closing the door for his protection, kids have walked out the front door at know he can lock it by fiddling, he can unlock it the same way.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Glad for good outcomes!

#1. Have your landlord install a proper lock so that you can "lock open" your door behind you. Or, make sure that your handle is not set to "self locking" so that when the door closes, it can be opened from the inside or the outside.

#2. Check out the link below for baby gates that are not climbable. I use them in my house to barricade the ridgebacks, this style tends to be a bit taller than the normal baby gate that works by tension, & can usually be set up either tension or mounted to the doorways. There is an "in/out" latch so you can come & go through it w/o having to remove it each time.
(note: these are examples, I am not endorsing any brand specifically, as the one I use I bought through a pet product dealer!)


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I'm hung up on your deadbolt. Do you have some sort of weird deadbolt? Obviously you're not going to be able to close the door when the bolt is out. But why don't you close the door, turn the bolt (with your key) when you leave? Then take the key with you? Why am I confused by everything night?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I suggest that you give your neighbor a key or ask the landlord to keep a key. As to how to be safe from the credit card trick, use the dead bolt. Put a nail high on the door frame or near the door but far enough away that someone can't reach it by breaking a windwow if you're not comfortable leaving the key in the lock when you're at home. We do this and it's become second nature to use it or the one in my pocket. And always lock the dead bolt when leaving. Make extras so that you have a key on your key ring. Easy once you get in the habit.

Why are you not wanting to leave the key in the lock? Is it because you have a window in the door or next to it? They it's not as safe to leave the key in the lock because a thief can break the glass to open the door. However, this is not likely to happen.

How old is your son? I suggest it's not a good idea to leave him alone in the apartment. Since he apparently was trying to get to you I suggest that he was scared or at the very least determined. But if not, as you've found, little creatures are very creative in getting into things. An example, tho not likely to happen if you've baby proofed the room, is that he climbs up on something in his room and falls.

I hope you're not staying with the laundry while it washes.

As to night time issues, again, how old is he. My daughter shuts the doors to her kids rooms when they go to bed. She has a 2 yo and still feels comfortable doing that. If she needs something she'll scream loud enough to be heard. My daughter said she was up with her 3 times night before last. smile

After your so what happened. It sounds like you don't have a regular dead bolt that works from both sides of the door. If that's the case perhaps your land lord would install one for you. I've never seen an inside only dead bolt with a key. They've always had a knob. So, are you sure you can't lock it from the outside?

Since you just run down and back up and your apartment and the basement are up and down in the same part of the building, I think it's safe to leave him for that 5 minutes. It's not much different than running to the basement in a house. But I would be sure he couldn't get out of his room and that his room is truly baby proofed. I might try shutting the door while I'm in the room with him a few times and then when you're just outside, going in when he cries. Teach him that having the door shut is OK.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Sorry, this is so scary in real life, yet I found myself laughing. I carry my keys in my pocket at ALL times. Both my kids love to fumble with door locks (for fun) and I can't even trust them when I run outside to get the mail. Wish you the best. Mobile children are exhausting! :)



answers from Miami on

When my son locked me out (accidently), I had to climb in a window to get in. I sure hope my neighbors didn't see my rear end sticking out of my window where I tried to keep from falling inside in the floor!

Can you put a key on a wrist band and wear it when you wash clothes? I've done that before.

Glad everything turned out alright!




answers from Orlando on

Get a real lock.
Keep a key in your pocket at all times, or on a chain around your neck or wrist.
Take him with you EVERY time you leave your apt.
You don't need to keep him contained. You need to keep him WITH you.

Even in my house with a laundry room right off the living area, my toddlers loved to join me in the laundry room. I hand them wet clothes and they put them in the dryer. They shut the dryer door and I lift them to push the "on" button. My almost 4 yr old loves to help with laundry now. It is never to early to get them involved with the chores around the house.



answers from Minneapolis on

We had a situation once but luckily I had left the back door open. I now hide a key in my garage (he locked door going into the house while I ran out to garage), and have exchanged with a couple close neighbors. It has come in extremely handy for both of us! In your case, maybe just keep a key with you or if you do have a close neighbor that you trust try that.


answers from Kansas City on

I wouldn't leave a 2 year old alone in an apartment for any amount of time if I was out of the apartment. I ran out to do the trash in a dumpster in our townhouse when our first two were little. The baby was in a play pen and was 8 months old and the older one was 20 months. I could see the door and in that amount of time the older locked the screen door, refused to open it and finally after being threatened he opened it. He was terrible about trying to lock door, including getting a chair and trying to put the chain link lock on so I would take the child with me. Just my advice.

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