Baby safety gates help you protect your baby or toddler from falls or other accidents by blocking off an area of your home. There are many styles of baby safety gates available to fit stairs and doorways and even some that are freestanding in the middle of a room. Here are some things to consider when buying a baby safety gate.
Buy a New or Nearly New Baby Safety Gate
Older, accordion-style baby safety gates that have v-shaped spaces at the top have been recalled because they can trap babies easily. Other older baby gate styles can have other hazards, such as providing an easy toe-hold for an industrious baby to climb on and fall. Buying a new baby safety gate, or at least one in good condition that was made in the last 5 years or so, is a safer bet.
Pressure Mounted Baby Safety Gates
The most common type of baby safety gate is pressure mounted, meaning that you open the gate wide enough to fit a doorway and then lock it open so that the rubbery pieces on the sides press against the door frame or wall. This type of gate can be inexpensive and is easily portable. Basic models must be removed or stepped over if an adult wants to pass through, but some have a walk-through gate. There's more potential that a heavier baby could push the gate out of place since it isn't bolted to anything, so I don't recommend using a pressure-mounted gate at the top of the stairs.
Hardware Mounted Baby Safety Gates
Baby safety gates that are attached to the wall or door frame with screws are becoming more common. The downside of this gate style is that you must permanently mark your wall or door frame with the hardware. However, the benefit is that there is little chance the gate can be pushed out of place, no matter what tricks your baby learns. These gates are not portable, though.
Check for Toe-Holds
When considering a particular baby gate, think like a toddler for a moment. Could you fit your little feet in the spaces in the gate and manage to climb up? Any gate that offers a makeshift ladder for toddler feet is not safe. If the gate has vertical slats that baby's foot could pass between, make sure there are no horizontal pieces between the top and bottom rails.
Baby Safety Gate Ease of Use
If possible, test the baby gate open and close method before you buy one. Make sure you can easily install and remove the gate. Remember that you may sometimes have your hands full while trying to get around the gate. A good baby gate should keep babies in place but be somewhat easy for adults to get around. If the gate is pressure mounted, make sure you can easily install it in a doorway so that it is tight and does not slide around.
Baby Safety Gate Styles
Baby gates today are available in traditional wood, sleek metal, economical plastic and even some types of cloth. You can choose gates that swing open, slide open or roll out. Before shopping for a baby safety gate, take a look at the doorways or stair areas that you need to gate off. Is there space for a hardware mounted gate? Can a pressure mounted gate fit correctly and stay in place? Can you get away with one gate that you move around, or do you need several? Lastly, look at your decor and decide whether you want a gate that coordinates.
What if I Can't Gate a Doorway or Stairway?
Many modern homes have open floor plans that don't easily allow a parent to gate off a room, or they have wider doorways that don't work well with traditional baby gates. Super-wide baby safety gates may be an option in this case. If gating a safe space for your baby is nearly impossible in your home, look for baby gate segments that can fit together to make a freestanding gated area. These baby safety gate segments can be used almost anywhere, indoors or out, to make a circular play space for your baby.