That Wicked Kitchen

Due to multiple medications, and lack of physical activity due to an orthopedic impairment AND laziness…our son, Eddie, is always at risk for obesity. He puts on pounds fairly quickly, and doesn’t lose them quite so fast. Even though he has not yet become overweight, the chances for him are much greater than for other kids.

The main thing that really increases his chances of excessive weight-gain is that he LOVES to eat. When given his “choice board,” he would pick “snack” all day if we didn’t intercede. We have to quickly hide that choice after every meal or snack so he doesn’t immediately request it again. The great thing is that this is a situation we can control, and we do. We have yet to take control in other areas that need attention.

We have pushed Eddie to be independent in whatever ways he is physically capable. As he gets older and stronger, and since he’s walking independently, he is required to (for example) get the milk out of the fridge when he wants some. Watching him slowly becoming self-sufficient is amazing, but now he can open the fridge; which means…potential grazing.

This kid is the ultimate grazer. When unsupervised anywhere near the kitchen, he finds his way in, and inhales everything on the counter. He’s been known to eat almost a whole loaf of bread. He has polished off a bag of candy. He’s finished a bag of chips. He will also clear off any plates left on the counter. (Having two sisters…he can find lots of “scraps” remaining after any meal.)

Not only will Eddie eat anything he finds, but drinks are on his menu as well. Any unfinished beverages are gulped down with minimal hesitation. His biggest risk is drinking a gallon of juice, or Kool-Aid, or random soda. Another potential risk, is that he’ll locate one of the “adult” beverages. It hasn’t happened yet, but we have to be very careful about where we leave our cups.

So we find ourselves at a point where we are likely going to start stashing away the food and being more diligent. If we catch him, and tell him “no,” he will quickly exit the kitchen. The problem is that we don’t always catch him. With more mobility and skills, he is simply going to have more access. I don’t see fridge-locking in our future, but I haven’t taken it off the table either.

Aside from getting into ALL the food, we also worry about other things in the kitchen. For example, we have a gas stovetop. When Eddie comes across the knobs, he likes to turn the gas on, and then wander away. Due to this “charming” behavior, we now pull all the knobs and keep them in a drawer next to the stovetop.

There is always a desire to push for more independence; in this case, it’s in the kitchen. However, how do we keep him safe without going over-board? It is a constant balancing act that I perform every day. I don’t want to limit him, but I also fear for his health and safety.

Keeping the kitchen in mind, how do you promote self-sufficiency and also safety? Do you have any kitchen safety tips that still allow your kids with visual impairments to access the kitchen? I’m hoping my gas-knobs tip may be helpful to one of you…and maybe you’ll have some great tips for me (and others).

Uh-oh…I literally hear Eddie clearing countertops. Time to go save the bread!