5 Kid-Friendly Refrigerators That Please Parents
CR asked parents which fridge features matter most. Here's what they told us.
Got kids? If so, Consumer Reports’ exclusive consumer engagement research suggests that you’ll be happiest with your next refrigerator if it includes certain family-friendly features.
For these studies, CR interviews consumers and has them complete exercises to learn what they value in various products. It's one way we make sure our extensive testing lines up with how you actually use products.
Each fridge that enters CR's refrigerator lab gets wired up with temperature sensors and is monitored for more than a month in a temperature-controlled chamber, which allows us to evaluate thermostat control and temperature uniformity.
We collect more than 5.4 million temperature readings for each refrigerator in the chamber to determine which ones will keep food fresh longer.
The following refrigerator roundup highlights features valued highly by many of the parents we interviewed—everything from easy-access drawers to door alarms that sound when junior takes too long deciding on an afternoon snack.
All of the kid-friendly models shown below also score well in our performance tests.
To find a fridge for your family, check our refrigerator buying guide and ratings.
A door alarm is a gentle reminder to kiddos that time’s a wasting—along with cold air and energy dollars. Most alarms sound after a minute or so. The Blomberg BRFT1522SS starts ringing after 60 seconds, and its interior LED lights also start flashing, helpful for the hearing impaired.
But sometimes the door alarm isn’t enough. Joseph Pacella, our engineer in charge of refrigerator testing, has four kids at home, including a toddler with the strength to open doors. “I finally put an appliance door lock on the fridge, after finding shredded cheese all over the house one day,” Pacella says.
In addition to its door alarm, the Blomberg top-freezer features an icemaker and digital controls. It also earns high scores in all of our performance tests, except for ease of use.
The middle drawer is a popular refrigerator innovation, in part because it can serve as a designated (read: contained) snack compartment in busy households. The 36-inch-wide LG LMXS30786S featured here is a strong performer in our four-door refrigerator category (which includes models with a middle drawer as well as true four-doors, with two doors for the fresh-food compartment and two doors for the freezer).
LG’s middle drawer features four preset temperatures (29° F, 33˚ F, 37˚ F, and 42˚ F) so that you can keep it a bit warmer for things like juice boxes and yogurt snacks, then drop it down on occasion, say, to keep steaks chilled before the weekend cookout.
The LG LMXS30786S also features dual evaporators (which prevent air and odors from mixing between compartments), spillproof shelves, an external water/ice dispenser, digital controls, and more. In terms of performance, this LG offers fantastic thermostat control, low noise output, and intuitive controls.
Another take on the dedicated snack drawer, the door-in-door compartment is a magnetically sealed chamber in some French-door and side-by-side refrigerators that you access without opening the entire refrigerator. This 36-inch-wide side-by-side LG LSXS26366S is one of the few models in our side-by-side refrigerator ratings to offer the convenience by letting you open just the top half of the right refrigerator door. It also features an external water/ice dispenser, dual evaporators, and digital controls. The LSXS26366S earns strong scores in all of our tests, with particularly high marks for thermostat control and low noise output.
Prefer a French-door? The top-rated LG LFXS32766S has a door-in-door compartment, too.
Stainless steel has been the dominant finish for decades, thanks to its sleek look and commercial-grade durability. But parents lodge a couple of key complaints: First, most stainless steel isn’t magnetic, making it hard to plaster the fridge door with artwork, permission slips, shopping lists, and the like. Second, stainless steel is prone to smudges and fingerprints.
There are, however, new takes on stainless steel that are both magnetic and smudgeproof. This GE Profile PWE23KMKES French-door refrigerator features a slate finish, a darker alternative to stainless that the manufacturer introduced a few years ago. The matte surface holds magnets and hides fingerprints. Alternatively, you can opt for the traditional white or black finish, which hold magnets and are fairly easy to keep clean.
The GE Profile PWE23KMKES also features an internal water dispenser, dual evaporators, spillproof shelves, a door alarm, and a temperature-controlled meat/deli bin. In terms of performance, it offers exceptional thermostat control and temperature uniformity.
Not every household needs a supersized refrigerator, but if you have to feed growing teens (and their five closest friends), you’ll appreciate a fridge with maximum storage capacity. Manufacturers have pushed the envelope in recent years, developing refrigerators with massive housings and, in turn, expansive storage space.
The current capacity champ in our ratings is the Samsung Chef Collection RF34H9960S4 four-door French-door, which serves up a whopping 23.4 cubic feet of usable capacity. The fridge features an external water/ice dispenser, dual compressors, adjustable and spillproof shelves, and digital controls. In our tests, this Samsung earns high scores for thermostat control and low noise output, but it isn't as energy efficient as the competition.