How Do I Keep My Daughter in the House?

Updated on July 08, 2008
L.C. asks from Virginia Beach, VA
102 answers

I had a very scary thing happen today. I was out running errands, and my 2 ½ year old daughter was home with my husband. She is at a stage where she doesn’t like to wear clothes. Since she is potty training we don’t usually worry about it too much. About 10 minutes after I got home, the door bell rang, and it was two police men. They said that someone had reported to them that a little girl at our address was out playing in the street naked. My husband said he had found her in the garage, but didn’t say anything about her being in the street. Needless to say I was furious with him for not paying more attention to our daughter while I was gone. He said he was watching TV and never heard the door open. I don’t want anything like this to happen again, but I don’t know what to do to keep her in the house. She knows how to open the doors, including the dead bolts, and she knows how to remove the plastic knob covers. We talked about putting alarms on the doors so they beep whenever they are opened. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t want to get a phone call while I am out saying that my daughter was playing in the street and was hit by a car. Does anyone have any suggestions how to keep her in the house, or to alert us if the doors are opened?

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L.J.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi L., how scary! I think putting an alarm would work (mine is crazy loud when you open the door) but have also heard of people installing the deadbolts or similar locks at the top of the doors, well out of kids' reach. Hope you never have to experience this again!

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J.B.

answers from Washington DC on

You can get door latches at the hardware store that you screw in at the top of the door and it just looks like a flap, but it keeps the door closed even if it's unlocked. She won't be able to climb up to reach it if you put it at the very top. That's the only think I can think of.
~good luck.

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L.S.

answers from Washington DC on

At Home Depot, they have plastic door knob covers that do not come off. You have to squeeze it just right to get the door open. They worked for me.

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J.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Please take it easy on your husband as you could easily have been the parent in charge when your daughter got outside. It happens ALL THE TIME to both parents alike.

My advice is to get a lock up high, either a chain or one like you find in a hotel room. Putting it too high for her to reach even with a chair will prevent her from getting out. Now is a great time to teach her that going outside without mom or dad is a great way to land herself in time-out.

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L.R.

answers from Washington DC on

L., I do not recommend what one person below said which is to use keyed locks only and keep the keys nearby but out of the locks. If you do this, and there is a fire or other emergency and someone needs to get out of the house very quickly, it will slow that person down tremendously to have to get the key, put it into the lock, etc. In a panic, it's easy to drop that key!....My friend whose 3-year-old son tried to wander immediately installed chains very high (out of a child's reach) on all her doors -- I do mean all, not just the front door but any back doors, side doors, doors into interior areas like the garage, etc. I did the same for my daughter. But then you and your husband HAVE to actually USE these chains. Plus you have to work with her on the behavior aspect of not opening doors by herself. And someone else's behavior needs work too: Your husband just has to take this very seriously. It doesn't sound like he really "gets" how bad this could have been (at least that's the impression I get from the posting). You already know your child could have been killed or snatched. Does he also realize that if this happens again someone could spot her and call Child Protective Services, which could begin investigating your family's ability to care for your child? Your husband has to be on board with you about all this and he has to commit to using the chains or whatever else you decide to do, or you'll end up with another police visit or worse.

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E.S.

answers from Roanoke on

My youngest daughter also loved to be naked. I wouldn't worry too much about that issue. Getting outside without being noticed is most definitely cause for concern.

Door alarms are certainly an option--although all they do is alert you; they won't offer any protection for your daughter. Toddlers can be fast so if she gets out while you are in the bathroom or even during the night, it might take you a few seconds to respond. Another, very simple fix is to add a lock at the top of the door--high enough so that your daughter cannot reach it. There are slide locks and even hook and eye locks that would be challenging for a toddler to manipulate. Another option (one that I actually used) would be to add a deadbolt that requires a key to operate. You could hang the key on a hook high up on the wall or doorframe. These springloaded locks require good dexterity to operate.

I would suggest that you and your husband have a conversation about what each of you expects from the other while providing childcare as well. . . Does the room with the TV have a door on it that could be closed to confine your daughter? How often should you check on her while performing another task or watching the TV. Getting outside alone is not the only danger that you need to cover. Even wonderful dads don't always think the same way that a mom does about keeping a toddler in sight. It's worth taking the time to discuss.

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C.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Your answer depends on your finances. Chains or the like are the way to go if you cannot afford and alarm system. Just make sure to put it too high for her to reach with a chair, as everyone has stated. As for the 2yr old knowing exactly what she is doing. She partially knew what she was doing. She is not old enough to have the rationale that older kids have. Even older kids have 'think it through' issues. She might know that going outside is a no no, but to reason it out? Come on people. She's 2! Kids that young are just learning how to think things through. If I go outside I could get hurt or stolen is NOT on a 2yr olds mind even if you have taught her that before. For example 10 yr old knows you don't open the door for strangers, we have taught her this repeatedly. Yet she still does it once in a while. Don't stop trying to teach, ofcourse. But WE PARENTS have to especially remember that little children are just that little children. Not little adults. As for being bored with her life? Oh brother. She may have been bored yes. If daddy wasn't being a good daddy. Just a zombie at the house incase it of a fire or something. I don't believe any children "BELONG" in daycare. Get the locks. And enjoy this time with your daughter. They grow up so fast. Then don't don't NEED us around anymore. Good Luck and God Bless

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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

It sounds like you need a couple of things:
First - Alarm your doors or put locks up high where she can't reach. (I did that for our basement door.)
Second - Tell your husband that he needs to interact with his daughter while you are gone - No ifs ands or buts. She is not a teenager who can take care of herself. He should be ashamed!
Third - She's 2 1/2 and knows exactly what she is doing. She went outside for attention that she wasn't getting inside. I'd sit her down and have a serious talk about the street and where we go without clothes on.
Fourth - Why didn't those neighbors who called the police just bring her back? What happened to common decency??
When I was little, our little next door neighbor escaped while her mother was in the shower. She was trotting down the middle of our very busy street in her footie pajamas! My mother ran out in her robe to scoop up this kid and bring her back. She never dreamed of calling the cops!!!

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J.M.

answers from Washington DC on

L.,

I have been reading through the responses. I agree that you need to put a lock up high on all of the doors. A few things that I do not agree with:
1. Your husband probably feels terrible and will not watch TV for a long time without guilt. He does not need to be talked to about proper supervision.
2. Try to let yourself off the hook, too. Your daughter is doing what 2 year olds do. They explore. They seek novel situations and want to do things, especially if they have been told "no".
3. I might enlist the help of your neighbors, or at least get to know them so they would be less inclined to call the cops.
4. Your daugher is too young to grasp cause and effect accurately to apply it to future situations. I have been teaching Human Growth and Development all semester. I referred back to my textbook, and as I suspected, 10 year olds are capable of logical reasoning (the kind that would keep your daugher from leaving the house). Sitting and talking to her will do no good. She simply does not have the ability to think ahead to the consequences of getting into the street, while she is still in the house. However, she might respond to a sign on the door. Take a picture of you or your husband holding her hand. Post that on each door and maybe a stop sign. Remind her that is how she can go outside (holding a hand). That MIGHT work, but she is far more curious than cautious. Plus the terrible two's are just a way to get you ready for the rebellion of adolescence!!

Let me know if this has been helpful at all.

J.

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R.M.

answers from Washington DC on

The same thing happened to me. My husband was at home with out 2 year old son and he got out of the house. We put the security chains on the doors, up high and that kept him from opening the doors and getting out.

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D.Z.

answers from Washington DC on

Put a simple closure at your eye level - she can't reach without some prop - more clues that something is going on... the chain locks that let the door open two inches would be great - then you'd get used to hearing for the door, but she can't get out. THEN; time out (2.5 minutes long)for being "UNSAFE, mom or dad Must Know if you leave, or it's Dangerous!"

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D.C.

answers from Richmond on

Having an alarm system installed so that you can hear the door open is a good idea but it only masks the issue of your husband "watching" TV and not "watching" your daughter while you were out. Tell him that the time she is entrusted in his care is not to be spent satisfying his own desires.

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L.T.

answers from Richmond on

We lived on a very busy street (45 mph traffic) with a little one and we did 2 things. We put the chains on all the doors and even when home, latched them so our son could not open the door and get out. We also had screen doors that he could open so we just used a hook and eye set that you can screw into the door frame on one side and into the screen door on the other. Both are high enough that your child cannot reach them. They really helped us and are easy to install. Good luck!
L.

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S.J.

answers from Richmond on

Here is what I did I got a latch lock and put it at the very top of the front door, Mine do not know how to get out of the back yard (it is fenced) and the garage door is blocked by stuff they cannot move or climb on. I would also suggest changing the deadbolts to key only deadbolt on both sides. My grandparents had one of these when I was younger on their door. I know it is frightening to come home to that! That is why i never leave all four of my children home with my husband, he honestly cannot watch them like I do. I think it is a man thing.

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S.C.

answers from Washington DC on

I can relate, as I have a daughter who is almost 3 and a newborn. And my daughter is very active and can do things sometimes that I can't even imagine. First, I would get the flip latch that others suggested and the chimes that is what I have. But I do have to say I am shocked at how others have responded so harshly, I thought people joined this site for support and suggestions and such, not for such harsh words don't we get that enough from others? I think and hope we are all doing are best and we wouldn't be on here asking for advice or help if we weren't trying to make things better?
Best of luck to you

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C.K.

answers from Washington DC on

L.,

I'm sorry to hear about your daughter getting out! I have 2 1/2 & 3 1/2 yr old daughters and they tend to run around our house naked in the evening as well and if my husband goes outside to take out the garbage or something, we have to keep them from running outside!!

Friends of ours have an addition thing on their front door that keeps their son from running outside. I don't know the name of it, but will ask them where they found it. It looks like a door hinge, but the hinge part folds over so that it's blocking the door from being opened. It's placed up high, so only adults can reach it, and all you have to do is flip the hinge to the other side and you can open the door.

I know that's not a great description, but I hope it gives you an idea of what you could possibly look for.

In our old house, we also had one of these: http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&p...

It's an electronic lock where you put in a security code to enable/disable a deadbolt. We loved it b/c we never had to carry house keys with us because you can never get locked out. The beauty of it for children is that a 2 1/2 yr old can most likely, not remember the code and there is no handle for them to be able to turn.

Good luck - and I'll get back to you if I can find out what the name of that hinge thing is!

C.

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L.M.

answers from Washington DC on

We installed latches at the top of every door that lead outside and into the garage. Just a hook or the one that slides works fine for a small child, but make sure it's up hight where they can't reach even with a stool.

P.L.

answers from Washington DC on

Dear L.,
Oh my goodness! How scary for you! My friend's daughter left the house one morning befoe anypne woke up and the cops and firefighters were involved. She said in thei new townhouse they have a new chain lock on the front door. Available at Walmart or Target or Home Depot stores. Also Maybe a baby gate in the playroom, if she is going to be playing while dad watched tv or you put away groceries? Also they sell these warning bells. You just screw this box into the doorway and add another into the other side of the doorway, thy beep or ring when someone is walking past, it's an alert sytem for instruders but will help warn you if your daughter is going through a back door or sliding glass door or garage door. They are also availale at Home depot and Target and Walmart. Good luck!
pammy

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E.B.

answers from Dover on

What is it with men and not wanting to watch their children as close as we mothers do? I tell you. When we were visiting my family in FL, I went out with my father and came back to find my sister in the bedroom changing my daughter because apparently noone was watching her and my sister found her hanging on for dear life in the deep end of the pool...my bf (her father) was RIGHT AT THAT WINDOW. She snuck out the other sliding glass door. It's a scary thought...let me tell you. But, anyways, my first thought was hanging chimes on the top corner of the door but, even then it will only alert you and by the time you get to the door, the child may already be heading for the street. I'd say the sliding locks like everyone else is talking about would work (installed up high so your child can't reach them). I really just wanted to share my scary experience with you and definitely keep my daughter (who is now 27 months old) morunder my wing than her father's. :-) Good luck!

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P.B.

answers from Washington DC on

OK. Besides the fact that she needs to DEFINITELY be watched much more carefully so she won't go outside by herself again, keep in mind that bad things can happen INSIDE the house as well! I'm sure you know that there are MANY things kids can get into inside the house that can be harmful to them. So, she needs to be monitored regardless of whether or not she's able to go outside.

I DO, however, have the perfect solution for you. To keep her from sneaking out get one of those slide locks (or even the ones w/chains) and install it at the top of the door WAY out of her reach. I saw that idea on Supernanny, I think...

My husband and I are personally not quite for the "baby proofing" or "kid-proofing" of a house- we are all for actually WATCHING them.

Hope that idea is helpful.

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A.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Yes- high locks and door alarms. We utilize both- I have a 5yo. The small monetary output is worth it beyond words. It gives you a bit of peace of mind while still having the ability to allow your child 'alone' time, without having to stand over their shoulders to assure total safety. The world is far to twisted out there to take the chance of her getting out au naturale again..............scary.

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S.W.

answers from Norfolk on

We had to put a door chime,(like a wind chime) on our back door for that very reason, our son was going out without our knowing. We have have fenced in back yard so its not that huge a deal unless a gate is open but still its best to keep them visible at all times. Our front door is in plain sight of the tv in the living room so you can't miss what's happening with that one.

Good luck!

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B.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Just be glad that nothing happen while she was out. It's happen to lots of folks and don't beat youself or your husband up over it. It happen to me, when my daughter was 4 and son was 2. We were all taking a nap together and she crawled out of bed with out me knowing and went outside to play. She started to follow a dog that had gotten loose. Luckily I had woken up a little after she got up but in that time she had gotten out of sight of our home. I had neighbors combing the neighborhood and finially after 20min of searching I called the police. One of my neighbors found her up by the school in our neighborhood safe. It was the scariest day of my life.
Our alarm system didn't have one of the beeping sounds when doors open, so I called the company and had them come out to upgrade it and put them in for free. I would say that is the way to go.

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J.N.

answers from Washington DC on

Try Sliding chain locks at the top of the door so she can't reach it.

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T.F.

answers from Roanoke on

We used a slide bolt at the top of ALL our doors, closet's included!

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S.M.

answers from Washington DC on

I used to go out when I was two and three alone as my mother worked nights and slept late and I was an early riser. My mother tied a bell by a string from my toe to hers until I learned how to take it off. Then she put a simple bolt lock that cost less than two dollars at Home Depot at the top of the doors so that I could not reach it to unlock the door, until I found a ladder :)) Luckily the neighbors usually watched me and brought me home unharmed. Good luck.

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C.W.

answers from Washington DC on

I would put latches on the door up high, and if that doesn't work, contact a babyproofer. Try not to be too hard on your husband, it really does happen to most of us at one time or another. I reached up to get our takeout order at a restaurant yesterday, it took only a split second, looked down and my son was gone, I found him wandering up the aisle of the restaurant between the tables. boy did my heart drop. I would have a serious talk with your daughter about the dangers of sneaking out, at 2 1/2 she can probably start to understand.

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C.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Kids are amazing little escape artists, aren't they?! How about the old fashioned hook & eye door latches - easy to install. You can put them up so high that your child won't be able to reach, even with a chair. Good luck!

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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

I have a friend/neighbor that had a similar problem. They installed those old fashion slide locks to the top of all the doors in their home. By it being up high it was totally out of reach for their daughter, plus they are very inexpensive. Just look at home depot/lowes and see what kind of locks you can get.

good luck!

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J.P.

answers from Washington DC on

L.,
Ugh, how scary for you! I have found the TV and ESPN to be such a distraction for my husband, too....
We put chain locks up high on the door where our son couldn't reach them. We have an alarm system, get one if you need it for other reasons, but I have found this to be less helpful
Good luck!

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R.T.

answers from Dover on

Try a chain lock up out of reach

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M.T.

answers from Washington DC on

Get one of those alarms to put on the door it will beep when opened. I have an talking alarm on my doors and windows that will say, front door opened, rear door opened, sunroom door opened. My 4 kids love to run out the back door and play on the play set or go out the front to ride their bikes when ever they want without permission, now i'm right after them.
But I would suggest one of those alarms you can pick up from walmart and paste on the doors and windows. My husband is security obsessed and that is why we got the alarm system. But those other alarms work just fine in alerting you and your husband when a door is opened. Good luck.

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L.S.

answers from Washington DC on

I have also had this happen to me but luckily my daughter only went out in the backyard in her pj's one morning about 6:00. I had no idea until I saw her out the window running around. I found that all you need is those little .29 cent eyehook locks found at any walmart. put them high up near the top of the door. easy to install and remove, very inexpensive and even with a chair your daughter will not be able to reach it. Hope this helps.

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A.N.

answers from Charlottesville on

We have friends whose son was a wanderer. They hung bells from the doorknobs so that you could hear when the door was opened. This might be a little more cost effective than the alarms you have to install.

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N.L.

answers from Washington DC on

Because I have windows on both of my exterior doors, my deadbolts require a key to open from the inside and outside. My daughter cannot open them b/c she doesn't have the key. I keep the key close by (on top of the fridge next to one door, and on a key ring on a hook next to the other) in case of a fire emergency.

The other thing to consider is putting on one of those chain like locks that allow you to open the door a couple of inches only.

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C.D.

answers from Washington DC on

That definitely is scary. A much cheaper alternative is putting a bell that rings pretty loudly whenever the door is opened. Someone had given me a Christmas decoration that was a lot of little bells that made a lot of noise that went around my door knob and if he took it off or the door was opened I could tell. Good luck with it.

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M.W.

answers from Washington DC on

How about a chain lock way up high? Cheap and effective

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N.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Change your locks from deadbolts to keyed deadbolts. Keep the key on a small hook (high, out of her reach) so you can access it easily. Since she's just 2, she probably won't have the skills to key the lock. And if she does, it would probably take her some time.

This is what we have, and it keeps our kids inside. Teach her about safety. Again and again and again. Watch her like a hawk. Two year olds are so impulsive!

Good luck.

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T.M.

answers from Washington DC on

My brother and SIL live at my mother's house and their 2 year old got out the back door and was playing around the pool my mom has. The cover was on but he fell in. My SIL went out of the room for just a few minutes to go to the bathroom. Thank goodness everything turned out ok. They went out and bought a cover lock for the door knob - It's one of those made by Safety first. It fits over the door knob and there is a funny way to open it. I know Lowes and Home Depot have an extensive line of the Safety First products. I run a home childcare and have magnetic locks on my kitchen cabinets and sliders for my hall closets - I didn't find that at Walmart. You could try that first and maybe back it up with the chime for the door when it opens. Good luck!!

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L.D.

answers from Washington DC on

hello L.
My daughter likes to go outside without me as well. We have a beautiful sting of Bells from Christmas that we gave to her to hang up; so we put on them door nob and it jingles when shes touches it :D , we don't mind that shes occasionally play with them. Its a simple idea that works for us. You might try it. Its certainly cheaper than an alarm but they have the monitoring ones and the ones that beep&cheep when the door is opened ( i think i saw those at bedbath & beyond)
L. in eldersburg

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S.K.

answers from New York on

My daughter has done the same sort of thing! About a week ago she opened the gate on the fence around our yard and went across the street to my neighbor's house! The street I'm on isn't terrifically busy but the occasional retard goes flying down the street and I was absoltuly petrified! I got deadbolts and put them about 6 inches below the top of the doors leading outside, and also locked my gates with key-open locks.
Now I'm at a loss over windows...since she knows how to open them and I'm terrified she's going to open the upstairs windows and fall out!

LOL

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A.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi! Our little guy would run out the door whenever he wanted when we first moved into our new house. We wound up putting locks on the door that are key deadbolts. It has helped and the fascination with going outside on his own has subsided and we no longer have that issue.

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S.H.

answers from Washington DC on

After a similar thing happened to a friend, we put chain locks on our doors. It's also helpful when the child runs to answer the doorbell. The chain is about 6 feet off the ground so it can't be reached with a step stool. Of course, your hubby would have to remember to put the chain on and to let you back in :) We do have one door on a double-key deadbolt and we keep the key well out of reach. That gives us another way in if someone puts the cahins on while we are out.

I'd also recommend locking all cabinets/closets/etc. that contain medicines. Kids who are curious about one thing are often curious about lots of things.

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S.P.

answers from Norfolk on

Do you have any chain latches? The ones that go up about eye level on the adults? Those work cause they don't open enough to where a child can squeeze out. I understand the fear and the worry, best of luck. The alarms sound like a good idea too, but a cheaper way might be the chain latches on the top of the door and if you or your husband goes out just have one another call whenever you get into the driveway so that the other can open the door and the chain latch.

Good Luck

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K.P.

answers from Dover on

Wow! I have a son (now 11) who was getting out of the house even before he was 2 years old. I understand the concern, not to mention the embarassment. We put a lock up higher than he was able to reach with a chair. That kept him in our house. When it came time to go somewhere, I used a leash for awhile, but it didn't give me much reassurance. I just had to hold his hand constantly. Now that he is 11, I still have to keep an eye on him. He will wonder because he doesn't pay attention. You may wnat to invest in an alarm system. No price is too high for the protection of our children. I hope you find something that works. The best defense is to be alert at all times.

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J.H.

answers from Washington DC on

Get some slide locks at Lowes or Home Depot. Install them higher than she can reach while she would be standing on a chair... but not too high for you to reach. That worked well for us. We had one on the grage door and the door to the rec room. Neighbors across the street put one on their front door too... we just keep our front door bolted and hide the key. You could do that too. Put you key on top of the door trim where she can't reach it. The slide lock is an easy solution though. Good luck!

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S.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Very scary indeed. My very tall 2 1/2 year old is also very capable of opening doors. We recently put one of those security chains on our front door and an additional lock on our slider. Both the chains and lock for the slider are at the top of the doors, so only adults can reach them. I purchased both at Home Depot and they were very inexpensive. Good Luck!!!

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S.H.

answers from Washington DC on

You can get a chain lock and put it high enough that she can't reach it. You know the kind that they have on doors in hotel rooms so when you open the door it opens enough to peak out. That would be cheaper than an alarm system. You really have to be careful. My little guy did that last year right before he turned 4 yrs. We were on Andrews AFB visiting a friend and my son was suppose to be taking a nap. The bed was right near the front door. He slipped out while we were in the livingroom. I paniced and went in search for him. He was luckily behind the house with the older kids playing. He wanted to play and not take a nap so he went outside. He hasn't done it again. Thank goodness. Now he knows better. Now I have my almost two year old to worry about but she does have big brother to look out for her when I miss something. Good luck and let me know what you end up doing. I may need the info. for my own.
S.

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M.C.

answers from Washington DC on

As other's have said, a chain up out of reach will keep the door from opening. If you want to be sure to hear the door open, there are little beepers you can buy that will beep if the door is open. I think a lot of the on-line companies that focus baby safety products have them. It will also let you know if someone comes into the house.

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M.M.

answers from Norfolk on

I had the same problem with my son, police & social services were called, my brother was babysitting while i was at work and he got out. So we bought a chain lock and drilled it in up high where only an adult could reach, even high enough if my son tried to use a chair he still couldnt reach. We put it on backwards so even if the door opened it would only open an inch. It kept him inside and i stopped worrying when I was at work.

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S.C.

answers from Norfolk on

We put alarms on ALL our doors when my oldest was 3. They beep whenever they are opened. They have remote systems now so you don't have to have hard wiring done. We also installed locks that you have to pull and slide close to the top of the doors. The only way my children (7&4)can reach it is if they pull a chair over to it (and I hear that). They also know to ask BEFORE they open the door. Your daughter is old enough to understand consequences, so if she plays with the door she gets a time out (or whatever) make sure you stick to it. Make sure she knows it is not safe and NOT allowed. Good luck.

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T.B.

answers from Washington DC on

I don't know if you have a security system or not but our system make a beep and tells you which door has been opened. It would not be a bad idea to get one, if you don't have one. You can even secure the house at night so that, if she should open a door, you will know within a minute or so.

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N.K.

answers from Washington DC on

just change the deadbolt to one that requires a key on the inside. worked for me and is cheap.

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D.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi,L.....I had the same situation....I got the deadbolts
with a key...you have to use the key to get out...it wsa a hard decision to make...but I wanted them to be safe...

Good Luck with the door,
D.
District Manager
Arbonne International
[email protected]____.com

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L.A.

answers from Charlottesville on

I would put a chain lock near the top of the door so your child cannot reach it. I would also encourage you to get an alarm system that chimes when the door is opened. We have also had times when my daughter will see one parent go outside and decide to follow and luckily with the sensor you know immediatly that the child has left the house.

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R.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Good morning. I had the same problem with my 2 yr old leaving out of the house. I brought the door chimes and placed them on all the doors in my house. It worked great, everytime the door opened the chime went off and I caught her before she got outside. I also purchased a good screen door with a lock that she could not open. It was a little expensive but it was worth it.

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K.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi L.,

Wow, that is a scary situation. Have you considered getting a dead bolt that can only be opened with a key from the inside? Also, you could get a chain for the door and put it up high. While these items will make it harder for the adults to leave, at least your daughter will be safely contained!

Good luck!

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E.E.

answers from Washington DC on

Try putting a flip-lock, chain lock or hook latch up high on the door where she cannot reach (even with a chair). My parents did that when I was little and sleep-walking. I did it for my daughter when she was 2 1/2 b/c she liked to "escape" too. It has solved our problem and given us a little peace of mind. The only trick is remembering to do the lock! Good luck!

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P.K.

answers from Washington DC on

A few possibilities for you: Get chains for the doors to the outside, and make sure your husband knows that he will need to open the door for you when you return. Get a locking storm door (though it sounds like that might not work with your daughter). Put gates between the living area and the doors leading to the outside. Also, we almost never have the TV on when my daughter is awake, unless it's one of the few shows that she watches. We just record whatever we want to watch (saves time later, too) and don't look at the news online if it's something like a sporting event. There's a lot of evidence that background TV has a negative effect on brain development, especially in the first five years of life.

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M.W.

answers from Washington DC on

L., this is my advice:

1. A 2 1/2 year old is not old enough to be unsupervised for anything longer than a few minutes. They can't be trusted to know to stay in the house, they are too young to know better. The parent who is taking care of a child that age needs to know where they are at all times. It's their job as a parent.

2. Putting the alarms on the doors is a good idea, as long as someone immediately jumps up to investigate. Even then, the child is out of the house before the parent knows about it. Better to have the child play in the same room as the parent, and have the parent remain focused on what the child is doing. It's OK to watch TV as a secondary focus, but the primary focus still should be the child.

Sorry if I'm old fashioned, but that's how I feel about it.

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L.D.

answers from Norfolk on

There are chain locks and flip locks that you can put up high... pretty easy to install. It is pretty scary if she can get out but beyond that, I've know couples that have had their child taken into custody for neglect because the child has left the house alone. Your daughter is old enough to understand a firm, no exception, safety rule. And hubby needs to know the possible consequences of her getting out. Be strong and good luck.

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L.L.

answers from Dover on

My 4 year old did something similar. He opened the door to a stranger while I was putting his baby sister in her crib for naptime! To this day, I still don't know who was at the door, and I thank God that he didn't have bad intentions!! I have explained to my son about strangers and why we don't EVER open the door unless it's Daddy on the other side, but he still doesn't really get it and yells "Come in!" whenever the doorbell rings. His school has even addressed the stranger subject, but I think they're just too young to really understand. So, to make my long story short...put a heavy duty eye-hook and latch system at the top of your door, where your daughter cannot reach and make sure it's hooked when you're in the house. It's a lot easier than installing another deadbolt lock, but it secures the door so she can't get out. The alarm idea is also a good one, but that won't stop your daughter from opening the door to strangers....Good luck!

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K.S.

answers from Washington DC on

L.,
I also wanted to include an idea. When I needed my boys to sit quietly while I attended meetings at their school, I would let them play with a handheld video game. I purchased a used one at a game store, as well as a used game. It stayed in my purse and only came out when it was needed. The boys were so interested in playing with it that I could get 30-45 minutes of out the toy. Perhaps you could find a toy or game or something special that your daughter can have only when she is with Dad.

Just a thought.

L.,
I purchased wireless alarms for my mother's house. These alarms are sold just about everywhere but I found mine at QVC. Each alarm consists of two pieces with an adhesive backing. Place one part on the door or window and the other on the wall. The alarm will sound when the two pieces are separated (opening the door or window). There is an on/off switch so you can use it whenever you would like. The ones that I purchased had two sounds, a screeching alarm and a door bell chime. I hope this helps. Good Luck.
I also wanted to add that my mother placed her alarm on the top of the door so the grandkids couldn't reach, even with a chair.

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M.A.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi L.!
My son (now 20) was taught by my stupid stupid brother to un lock locks & hook & eye lock using a plastic baseball bat. So he then had free roam when he wanted. I went to Home Depot & they have hook & eye latches (just screws into the wood) that have a spring on them. If you put them high enough up, your munchkin can't reach them, & then she needs to figure out how they work. It's really simple you just slide the spring back, then lift the little hook but they worked great for us & are very inexpensive.
Good luck!!

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S.W.

answers from Washington DC on

How Scary! Chimes or alarms may be a good idea, but I have found that if you go out of your house a lot that the charms start to be tuned out. May I suggest changing your deadbolt to keyed locks? There will not be anything for her to turn. Keep the key out of reach and then when you are in house make sure the door is locked and if you have to run errands and leave her at home lock the door as you leave. It may be a bit of hassle to get a key everytime you want to open the door, but worth it if it keeps her safe. Also, make sure that the key is accessible enough in case of a fire and the door is the only way out.

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S.K.

answers from Washington DC on

Maybe you could put door chains on the doors high enough so they would be out of your daughter's reach. Good luck!

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M.C.

answers from Dover on

We have Brinks Home Security and its only $30/month. Our doors beep whenever they are opened and its a great thing. We have a very friendly 6 year old with no concept of stranger safety. We drill it in to her not to talk to strangers or open the door when it rings but lets just say its a work in progress.

I love the fact that the door beeps whenever it opens. Sometimes when I dont even want her to open the door (knowing that she too can unlock doors) I set the alarm on. It can be set to instant so there is no 60 second delay (such as if you were coming home from work and needed 60 seconds to get in the door and turn off the alarm). The sound of the alarm terrifies her its so loud and scary. So I tell her the alarm is set and not to open the door and then she definitly wont. If she does, the police will come! And she doesnt like that.

If you were interseted in Brinks, let me know and I can "refer" you so that you dont have to pay any install fee or for the equiptment. Just the $30/month. Its a 3 year contract but maybe by then you wont need it because your daughter will be older. Also, if you do get it, make sure they put it up high enough where your daughter wont push the alarm buttons (ones for police, fire, and medical). They set mine kind of low on the wall, but my daughter is old enough (I hope) to know better and not touch them. I cant tell you how safe I feel at home with the alarm.

Let us know what happens!

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D.M.

answers from Washington DC on

I would get an alarm system. I have ADT and you can put it on STAY. That means you can walk around the house and the alarm doesn't go off until you open a door. Then it BLARES!!! That would be the best thing for you to do, or take the baby with you all the time. That's how husband's are though. They don't pay attention to kids!! That's supposedly our job. so the best thing to do is to get the alarm. I believe it will scare her a bit too and she won't want to go around opening doors anymore. Best of luck!!

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C.G.

answers from Charlottesville on

The alarms on the door are a great idea. My 8 year old went through the same thing when we put the alarms on the door she knew not to go out when she heard them go off and we knew when she was going out the door. It is a thing they start to go through cause they are exploring things and that is one of them. Bad to say but they go through alot more then just running out the door. They also like to play hide and seek and you dont even know you are playing scary very scary. Good luck hope the info helps.
Mother of 4 kids.

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N.O.

answers from Norfolk on

Put a chain lock up high on the doors leading to the outside and use them everytime!

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K.L.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi L.,

I don't have any advise for you but wanted to let you know that our daugheter has done the same thing. Our nieghbor called us to let us know that our naked 3 year old daughter was outside checking the mail. We were mortified with the thoughts of what could of happened. We do have an alarm system that chirps when the door opens but somehow missed it. We believe that we are very causous parents but it only takes a second.
K.

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B.S.

answers from Washington DC on

I have had a similar experience, I too have a child who is too smart for their own good! We live right on Rt 29 so it scared me to death when he learned to open doors and locks not to mention finding him outside.
Have you tried putting a chain lock at the very top of the door? Even if she climbs up on something that should be too high for her to manipulate the lock. You can also find motion sensors for inexpensive - we used one of my older son's "Spy Watches" it would beep when moved which would distract my youngest long enough for us to stop him from escaping. I know it might look tacky, but let's face it, who cares, but Jingle Bells would have the same effect.
I understand your frustration with your husband, it seems the world could fall down around mine's ears while he's watching Sports Center! Maybe having the cops at your door woke him up, if not the notion of your baby being hurt or taken away. It's true things happen in the blink of an eye and it's not fair for anyone to judge but it's too dangerous of a situation to just ignore. Perhaps if the kids aren't getting adequate attention when he's babysitting, you should hire a babysitter - spending money always gets my hubbie's full attention - whether he's watching Sports Center or not.

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C.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Oh, I remember my own little "Houdini" surprising me shortly after our move into a new house in the country! I came downstairs after taking a quick shower to discover my front door wide open and my little guy headed down the hill toward the creek! That very day we installed a simple brass slide bolt at the top (read adult height)of all exterior doors. It was an economical and simple solution that worked very well for us. And an easy habit for us to assume given the getaway skills of our son. Good luck to you!

C.

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C.D.

answers from Washington DC on

My daughter did the same thing and we put security chains on all the doors up high so she couldn't reach the chain and open the doors. Later on, we did end up putting in an alarm system with the beeping when the door was opened but the chain are more cost effective and work to just as well.

Good luck.

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J.B.

answers from Dover on

Put your deadbolt locks higher up on the door.

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N.B.

answers from Dover on

You could try a chain lock, my friend had to install a few at her house when her toddler kept going outside. It's a little inconvenient, but it should work, at least for a while. Good luck.

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K.P.

answers from Norfolk on

What about chain locks near the top of the door? I had a similiar problem when I had lived in an apartment when my daughter was 3 yrs old. The locks on the door were very low. And I had to explain to her several times how dangerous it was to open the door. I worked nights at the time so she was up before I was. On a couple of occasions I would get up and the door was wide open.Thankfully you had to have a key to get into the building and the doors were quite heavy so she was not able to actually go outside, thank goodness because there was a pool out front. It took some time to explain to her but she fianlly stopped. And I moved the chain locks.

K. 33yr old Working Mother of 12yr old boy and 8yr old girl Married 4 yrs

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P.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi,
That's so crazy. I totally relate because I have a 3 year old who tries to leave when no one is looking as well. One thing that is helpful yet inexpensive is to buy some hook & eye latches from Walmart. You can install them at the tops of doors you don't want entered by her. I think they might cost just over $1 for 3 sets. For a little more $ you can buy the gadgets that make loud noises when anyone comes in or out. They are battery operated. Anyway, hope all goes well. Also, prayer goes a long way until they grow out of this stage. All three of our kids went through this & thank God they are all just fine. May God bless.
P. M.

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S.W.

answers from Richmond on

This happened to my Mom once... My step-dad was supposed to be watching my 2 year old brother, and wasnt, and my brother walked right out of the house!! He was found 2 streets down the road, walking around in nothing but a diaper! I know how scared you must have felt! I would suggest a lock placed at the very top of your door where your daughter cant reach it. They make latches you can attach to the door without having to actually drill holes in the door... they look like newer, updated models of chain locks.

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E.T.

answers from Washington DC on

I lock the door using the chain lock... even if my son can open the door the space is not wide enough for him to squeeze through... be careful on the length of the lock... as some seem wider than others.

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M.J.

answers from Norfolk on

My son does the same thing. We have these little gold latches that just flip over and keep the doors from opening. They cost less than $10 for 2. I saw them at Taylor's the other day. The only bad thing is they are a security device so you can't get out when they are engaged, but you also can't get in. Your husband would've had to get up and open the door for you. It's a small price to pay to keep your little one safe.

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A.W.

answers from Washington DC on

L.,
It is very scary when they can get out. My son did something similar at 17 months old with me watching him, it can happen in a heart beat. After that day my husband went to Home Depot and put in a slide lock on the front door, high enough that my son could not reach it even on a chair. We would lock that all the time, it was a pain but we knew that he was safe. For sliding glass doors you can put rods in the track so she cannot open the door. But the chain locks or slide locks work great.

Good luck...
A.

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J.S.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi,
you need to go buy one of those slide locks(you know the ones with the chain on it and you slide it a little to unlock it) and put it up high at like your stretch arm level and she wont be able to reach it to slide it open. Hope this helps!!!

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R.H.

answers from Norfolk on

I would put swing locks or slide locks on all the doors that go out or i would also put those door alarms on the doors. Both of these are very inexpensive. My husband is the same way. If my daughter isn't right in his face he forgets completely about her. But these should work. The little locks should be near the top too high to even use a chair to get them opened...lol
I would also talk to her about no going out. She is completely old enough to understand you and should follow your directions.

L.M.

answers from Dover on

When my son was younger, he was aweful about opening doors and going outside (usually to the neighbor's house but still!). Anyway, we had to put the latches up by the top of the door so he couldn't even climb high enough to reach (which was a challenge since I am short). For him, that worked.

My daughter, now 17 months, is quite the climber so that my not work...we'll have to see. We have the door alarms on our sliding back door so we can hear if she opens that one.

Good luck!

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A.W.

answers from Lynchburg on

The little alarms are great, i got mine at the dollar store they stick right on the door and make a awfule noise when the door is opened they cans also be turned off when need b. Kids are great and so smart they can figure out the tricks to all the so called child proof items, just let your hubby know he needs to keep a closer eye on her but things happen for a reason, maby if she didnt get out side you wouldnt know she could and something worse would have happened at a later date, great job for being pro active about this and good luck.

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K.B.

answers from Richmond on

I saw this on one of the TV nanny shows. They put a slide lock at the top of the door, out of reach of your toddler, but easily reached by an adult.
You need to do something - this is a safety hazard. And we know, at her age, it can take a while to change behaviors.
So sorry... :( It must be very scary for you & your DH.

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E.P.

answers from Washington DC on

Hey Laura,
I suggest a hook and eye or other type lock at the very top of the door where she can't reach. And, maybe some more time outside playing with dad?
E.

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M.M.

answers from Washington DC on

First, get a high chain that she can't reach. Second, your husband should have been more attentive. Lastly,
She needs to be disciplined. Period. You should explain to her the consequences of going in the street without an adult. Tell her she can get killed and NEVER see mommy and daddy again. Or you can discipline her the way you see fit. Either way, she needs to know that going outside by herself is a big no no.

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K.H.

answers from Dover on

YOu should look into getting some sort of a lock (bolt, or whatever...not really sure what is available) and just install in up high on the door, so that you have no doubt that she cannot reach it. Just make sure you add it into your routine, making sure it is locked everytime you come in the door. That is the only suggestion I can think...that, and of course make sure your hubby watches her better next time! That is a very scary thing, and you don't want there to be a next time, that doesn't go as well.
K.

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T.W.

answers from Washington DC on

I USE A FOLD OVER DOOR LATCH. tHE KIND THAT YOU SEE IN A HOTEL. AT MOST, THE DOOR OPENS 2in OR SO. IF THEY ARE REALLY TRYING TO OPEN THE DOOR IT USUALY MAKES A PRETTY LOUD JERK SOUND. THIS IS WHAT HAS HELPED ME KEEP TRACK OF MINE. BY THE WAY, I HAVE THE SAME UNAWARE HUSBAND. MINE SAYS IF THEY ARE QUITE HE DOES NOT WORRY. ALL MOMS KNOW, QUITE IS WORSE THAN LOUD.

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S.M.

answers from Washington DC on

We just had this happen for the 1st time at Grandmas who doesn't have the same knob covers we do. SCARED me to DEATH !!! But what she DOES have on her basement door is the simplest installation item ever. It is a "hook & eye" type closure. You screw in the round eye part into the jam and screw in the hook part on the door. It's up so high that he can't stand on a chair to get it but we adults have no problem opening and closing. At our old house we also had an alarm (Simple installation I beleive) the censor was in the jam - so whenever the door was opened and the contact broken it would beep beep beep. It was on all outside doors. Good luck. I've told my husband that he will watch our son with the same focus I do - or I will never be able to relax and go do anything. My husband is very "task" focused - which means he can only do one thing at a time. I ask him NOT to wash the car or do yard work while he's watching our 2 1/2 yr old. Women are global thinkers - we can do housework and other things and KNOW when there is 2 seconds of absolute silence that baby is into something they shouldn't be. It's the difference between men and women. I've just pointed out to my husband that there is a difference and the lawn or clean car is LAST on the list of importance compared to watching our son. He gets it now!!!

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L.S.

answers from Washington DC on

I have a 2 1/2 yo houdinni too! I have 3 kids and my 4 yo would never DREAM of escaping! I too have not heard him open the door. So when we moved we got ADT put in! Not only does the door beep it tells you WHICH door has been opened so you know where to run too LOL! We mostly got it for this reason not so much for the breaking in part. It was free equipment and $35 a month which is totally worth it to me!

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H.D.

answers from Norfolk on

Put alarms on the doors, the kinds that make a loud noise until the doors are closed again. You can usually find these at Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, etc in multi-packs. They are usually a self-stick style and run on batteries, so there is no hardware to install.

I would also suggest making all of your deadbolt locks key locks if they are the lever-type. Lock with the key, even if you are at home, and then put the keys away out of her reach.

The other thing is your daughter sounds pretty smart. Have a safety talk with her about being outside without a parent or grown-up. It might take a while, but she needs to understand that it isn't safe for her to outside alone.

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T.A.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi L.,
We were well on our way to having this same issue with my son when he was younger, & that is with 4 other people in the house at the time. My parents suggested a simple hook & eye or chain lock up towards the top of the door where he could not reach. Fortunately, he stopped on his own, but it may be something for you to consider. Good luck
T.

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G.Z.

answers from Norfolk on

I have a friend who installed those alarms. They aren't loud, either, they just give a little beep beep. I'd say give that a try. And see if DH could turn off the t.v. while you're gone & be with your daughter. It's really hard with an escape artist if your attention is divered.

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A.N.

answers from Norfolk on

Man, I feel for you. Our 22 month old can undo the deadbolt and sometimes can undo the knob covers as well, but thankfully she hasn't gotten out yet. The only things I can think of are to either move the deadbolt up the door out of her reach ( I know that would take a lot of work) or install a chain. I don't know if you could shorten it enough so if she did get the door open that she couldn't slide through. Or, like you mentioned with the alarm, in nursing homes for dementia/Alzheimer's patients whenever someone opens the door it beeps. Maybe you could get one of those kinds of systems. Or....put some bells on the door so if she opens it you can hear it.

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D.B.

answers from Dover on

I have the perfect lock for you!! My husband installed a chain lock high enough that he and I can reach it but my son cannot, even if he were to pull a chair over and try to reach it. This chain lock came with a hook that actually allows us to lock the lock, then place one link over the hook so if by some miracle it was unlocked, this link over the hook prevents the door from being opened even one inch.

Good luck! I'm so glad your daughter is safe, but what a jerk your neighbor was to call the police on you instead of bring your daughter to the door! They should be ashamed of themselves!!

D.

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K.S.

answers from Norfolk on

You can purchase locks that go on the top of the door to prevent little people from opening doors when they shouldn't. I've seen them at Lowes. I agree you should have been furious for hubby not paying attention. Sounds like something mine would do.

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N.W.

answers from Washington DC on

I have an escape artist son myself, so I know how scary this can be.
I'd suggest a chain or deadbolt type thing up at the top of the door. It would have to be locked from the inside whenever you were inside - but she wouldn't be able to reach it.

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C.W.

answers from Washington DC on

My daughters opens the door alot & a few times she got outside without anyone knowing. We put a lock at the top of the door where she can not reach it. It works. I'm glad I did that. My husband didn't want to do that but it has stop her alot of times for going out by herself.

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N.B.

answers from Washington DC on

L.,

You can put a latch on any outside doors that are very high up (adult reaching height only...make sure it is above the height she can reach on a chair). It can be a simple latch like they have in bathroom stalls...if she can't reach it, she can't undo it. My friend put a key lock on her front door and keeps the key separate from the front door. She has to have the key to open the door, but it keeps her little boy in the house. My son can get out the door by the garage, so we have to be careful to always keep our garage door closed.
Good luck!
N.

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