How to prevent locking yourself out of the car after buckling your baby in

We've still got some warm weather ahead of us, hence Candice's tip:

On warm days, I'm worried about accidentally locking my baby in the car after I buckle him in. To make sure that never happens, I usually crank up the car and get the a/c going to cool the back seat instead of waiting until I get him buckled, things loaded, etc. However, once cranked, I immediately roll down the window *just* to be sure that I won't lock myself out of the vehicle.

Smart, especially if your car doesn't have keyless entry.

We've talked about this topic before — it's such a basic parental fear. I think most of us feel it!

Related: Avoid locking your keys in the car


  1. says

    It’s also a good idea to not give your toddler your keys (and keyless entry fob) to play with while they’re still buckled in. :-/

    It was just seconds after shutting my door that I realized my mistake–that was the longest 15 minutes of my life! Fortunately the FedEx guy was able to get her to hit the open button on the fob–I was too wound up to be a good coach.

  2. Williamk says

    I’ve been doing the window trick for a while. Living in Vegas starting the AC is critical as the inside of the car can get brutally hot even after just a short time. But since almost every car has the “one press” drivers side window (I think it’s for toll booths or something) its easy to start the car, crank the AC, and punch the down button.

    Also if you are loading a minivan, I find opening both sliders helps since its hard for the kids to close them and the big openings let the hot air in the car vent out more quickly.

  3. Suzanne says

    I did this when my son was 4 months old. I started the car and AC, put him in, then walked around to find my door was closed and locked. I didn’t realize that the car locked automatically once started. It took four police and a couple of firemen to break into the car and get the poor little guy out! Now I have a car without that auto-locking feature.

  4. says

    I always leave my driver’s side door open in the summer (but the window idea is a good one) and in the winter I have remote starter (I live in Maine it can be freezing in the car for a LONG time after you start it) so my car is already heated up when I walk out to it so I put my keys on the roof when I buckle my son in. then I close his door, grab my keys and get in myself. this is great because my keys are outside the car at all times unless I’m inside the car.
    Works for me!

  5. Jen says

    I always put the keys on top of the car before i put the baby in. I went to do that today, just to realize that I had not locked us out of the car…but the house, where the keys were. Sigh…

  6. Jill says

    p.s. I’m scared to start the car up in advance (unless it’s BRUTALLY hot) b/c then I worry while I’m loading a car jacker could come and drive off with my car and my kid.

  7. mirissa says

    I’ve locked the keys and the baby in the car and it was awful! Now I keep a carabiner on my key ring and clip my keys to whatever I’m wearing. It’s easy and I never lose my keys.

  8. Rebecca says

    Yep — I did this, too (allowed the buckled up 2-year-old play with the keys while I was getting the groceries loaded). It was awful, awful, awful. Thankfully, living in Alaska, we don’t run the risk of overheated children … but there was one very upset momma by the time the locksmith showed up. I also now use the carabiner trick, but also have extra keys on the vehicle, too, just in case!!

  9. says

    Two things:
    First for those cooling off their cars: The fastest way to cool off a hot car is turn it on, crank the A/C, roll down all the windows, and set the A/C to NOT recirculate. The icon is normally an arrow from outside the car going into it. The goal is to get the super-heated air OUT of the car. Once cooler, close all windows and switch to recirculate.

    I point this out cause it not only helps you cool down your car, it also reinforces having a way into your car if you did happen to lock the door as you put your kid in the car.

    Second, and I know this is harder if you live out of a purse, is I have a copy of my car key taped inside my wallet. Since my wallet is always in my pants, I have no worries about being locked out. (I came up with this solution back when I delivered pizza and locked my keys in my car constantly.)

  10. says

    I leave the babies in the cart, load the shopping in the car, then the load the babies in, then get in and start the car. I would never put the babies in a running car without me in it. In the minivan, I open both sliding doors and leave them open until I am ready to go. In the other car, I just try to be fast.

  11. Becky C. says

    I got tired of juggling keys and baby, so I put my car key on one of those plastic springy armbands (like what cashiers use) Works great, leave my hands free to buckle and I’m less freaked about locking them in somewhere.
    And I’m with Peeved Michelle on not walking away from a car with a baby in it, even “just” to return a cart.