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A refrigerator with kid-friendly features.

5 Kid-Friendly Refrigerators That Please Parents

We asked parents which fridge features matter most. Here's what they told us.

Got kids? If so, Consumer Reports’ latest consumer experience research shows that you’ll be happiest with your next refrigerator if it includes certain family-friendly features. The exclusive research, which involves engaging regular consumers to gather their viewpoints and determine how they prioritize features and functions, is part of our ongoing efforts to test products in the manner they’re most likely to be used. 

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 score well in our performance tests, because keeping food fresh for as long as possible is always job number one for any refrigerator. 

A Door Alarm for the Indecisive
Blomberg BRFT1522SS

Blomberg BRFT1522SS

Truth be told, this feature isn’t just aimed at the youth of today. You’ve probably been guilty yourself of standing before an open fridge, trying to decide between the leftover General Tso’s chicken and a turkey sandwich.

A door alarm is a gentle reminder that time’s a wasting—along with the cold air and energy dollars. Most alarms sound after a minute or so. The new Blomberg BRFT1522SS, which took over the top spot in our top-freezer ratings, starts ringing after 60 seconds, and its interior LED lights also start flashing, helpful for the hearing impaired.

Door alarms are fairly common among premium refrigerators, including many French-door and side-by-side models, but this Blomberg is the only top-freezer in our tests to offer this feature.

Sometimes the door alarm isn’t enough. Joe Pacella, our engineer in charge of refrigerator testing, has four kids at home, including a 2-year-old 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,” Joe says.

Ahh, the joys of parenthood.     

    Dedicated Drawers for Snacks and Drinks
    LG LMXS30746S

    LG LMXS30746S

    The middle drawer is a popular refrigerator innovation, in part because it can serve as a designated snack compartment in busy households. The 36-inch-wide LG LMXS30746S featured here is the top scorer 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 is special in that it 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.

      Hidden Compartments for Everyday Items
      LG LSXS26366S

      LG LSXS26366S

      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 CR Best Buys in our side-by-side refrigerator ratings to offer the convenience. Prefer a French-door? The top-rated LG LFXS32766S has a door-in-door compartment, along with the highest overall score in our ratings.  

        Finishes That Accept Art but Not Smudges
        GE Profile PWE23KMKES

        GE Profile PWE23KMKES

        Stainless steel has become the dominant finish in recent decades, thanks to its sleek look and commercial-grade durability. But parents lodge a couple 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. Stainless steel is also prone to smudges and fingerprints.

        There are, however, new takes on stainless steel that are both magnetic and smudge-proof. This GE Profile PWE23KMDES French-door refrigerator features a slate finish, which the manufacturer introduced a few years back as an alternative to traditional stainless. The darker matte finish holds magnets and hides fingerprints. Alternatively, you can opt for the traditional white or black finish, which works with magnets and is fairly easy to keep clean.

        Kenmore refrigerators identified by the brand as having "Active Finish" feature magnetic, fingerprint-resistant stainless steel. One to consider: the Kenmore 51135 side-by-side model, which should perform similarly to the Kenmore 51133, a CR Best Buy with solid temperature performance and efficiency in our ratings.

        On the subject of family organization, we’d be remiss not to mention the Samsung Family Hub, a French-door fridge with a built-in LCD panel and several family-friendly apps, allowing you to coordinate schedules, display photos, order groceries, and more. Though our initial review of the Family Hub was lukewarm, Samsung recently unveiled the second generation of the fridge, and other manufacturers are launching smart refrigerators of their own that look to digitize the magnet-enhanced command central experience.      

          Maximum Capacity for Multiple Mouths
          Samsung RF323TEDB[SR]

          Samsung RF323TEDB[SR]

          Not every household needs a supersized refrigerator, but if you have to feed growing teens (and, more often than not, their five closest friends), you’ll appreciate a fridge with maximum storage capacity. Manufacturers have, quite literally, pushed the envelope in recent years, developing fridges with massive housings and, in turn, expansive storage space.

          The current capacity champ is the Samsung Chef Collection RF34H9960S4 refrigerator, which serves up a 23.4 cubic feet of usable capacity. (Our testers differentiate between claimed capacity, as listed by the manufacturer, and usable capacity, which is methodically measured in our labs.) However, so-so energy efficiency keeps it off our recommended list. The top pick with the top capacity is the Samsung RF323TEDB[SR], shown above, a French-door refrigerator with stellar temperature control and energy efficiency, plus a very roomy 21.8 cubic feet of storage.  

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            Daniel DiClerico

            I've written about remodeling and home products for 17 years. When I'm not covering the subjects for work, I’m putting the knowledge to use on the renovation of a Brooklyn brownstone, where I live with my wife and kids. You can also find me most weeks on the soccer field.