If you’re the parent of an active little toddler, you know that it’s impossible to keep an eye on him or her at all times. You know just how curious they can be, and when they start exploring the house there are certain areas you definitely don’t want them in, and it’s important to baby-proof your home. You might have noticed them peering curiously at the stairs, and that’s when you know it’s time to invest in a baby gate to keep them out of danger.
There are tons of different baby gates available, and I have some simple tips to take into consideration when you’re searching for a baby gate to use in your home.
Tips For Choosing the Safest Baby Gate
First of all, before you even begin to think about purchasing a baby gate, it’s very important to measure the spaces that you’ll be putting the baby gate in. Most baby gates are extendable, but you shouldn’t assume that every gate will extend wide enough to fit every space you need. Measure the largest space in which you’ll be using the baby gate and you’ll know the minimum size you need.
New vs. Used: Which Should I Buy?
Older style baby gates have some issues that could endanger your baby, so it’s important that you know about them. Some of them have v-shaped spaces at the top, and these have all been recalled because they subject your baby to the hazard of being trapped in it. Some other older baby gates have hazards such as spaces that fan function as toe-holds, allowing your baby to climb over the gate. Because of the dangers found in older baby gates, I would recommend purchasing anew gate over a used, older one.
Pressure-Mounted Baby Gates
These are the most common type of baby gate. If you’re familiar with how tension rods used for shower curtains work, these pressure mounted baby gates function the same way. You simply extend the gate to the size you need between the walls or door jam and pressure keeps it in place. Pressure mounted gates can be a great solution, because they’re usually inexpensive and versatile: you can use them in practically any space that’s small enough for the gate to fit. Pressure-mounted gates are best used in places like the bottom of a staircase or between rooms to keep your baby from roaming. If you need a gate to block off the top of a staircase or any other place where your baby could fall, it’s recommended that you use a hardware-mounted baby gate instead.
Hardware-Mounted Baby Gates
Unlike pressure-mounted gates, hardware-mounted gates are a more secure, permanent solution that mounts securely to the walls of your home with screws or brackets. If you need to block off the top of a staircase or any other place with uneven floors that your baby could fall on, these are the perfect baby gates for the job. Don’t use a pressure-mounted gate in any place that is very important to keep your baby away from. The obvious downside to hardware-mounted gates is that they’re a more permanent solution: when you remove them, they’ve permanently marked up your wall or door.
Different Styles: Metal, Wood & Plastic Baby Gates
Obviously, metal gates are by far the most strong and secure type of gate, and you’ll find both pressure and hardware-mounted baby gates that are made of metal. I’d recommend using a metal, hardware-mounted gate at the top of stairs.
Wood and plastic baby gates can be very useful, too. Although they’re not quite as secure as metal gates, it doesn’t mean they’re unsafe. Again, don’t use a wood or plastic pressure-mounted gate at the top of stairs, but if you need a gate to keep your baby out of a certain room or area, you’ll be just fine with one. If you’re opting for a wooden baby gate, make sure that it’s completely smooth and sanded which will keep it free from slivers.
What if I Can’t Gate Off a Certain Area?
Modern homes may have areas that make it difficult to fit a baby gate properly. If yours has a spot that might be difficult to gate off with a traditional baby gate, you might have better luck with a super-wide gate. If this won’t work, you can also purchase gates that come in segments and allow you to section off any area with a custom fit.
Baby Gate Safety Tips
Safety is always a concern with any baby products. Here are some things to remember regarding purchasing and using your new baby gate.
Slats or Toe Holds
Put yourself in the position of your baby: would you be able to climb over the gate? Avoid any baby gate that has horizontal slats: these will function like a ladder for your baby, letting them easily climb over it. If you’re buying a gate that has vertical slats or bars, make sure that they’re close enough together to prevent your child from climbing them. If you’re going with a gate that has mesh, make sure that the holes are small enough that they can’t be used as toe holds.
Installing the Gate
When it comes time to install the gate, the first thing that you should do is thoroughly read the instruction manual so that you know how to properly install it. This is extremely important! When installing a gate at the top of a staircase or any other dangerous area, be sure that you situate it so that the door swings inwards instead of toward the stairs for maximum safety.
- Hardware-mounted gates: Since these gates are permanent, require marking up the walls of your home and are generally used in dangerous areas, be very sure that you know what you’re doing before you attempt to install it. When using screws or brackets, be sure that you’re drilling into wooden wall studs and not just drywall.
- Pressure-mounted gates: These are easier to install, but still be sure that you do it properly. To install a pressure-mounted gate, simply tighten the tension bar between the walls or door jam until it’s snug and securely in place.
Upkeep of the Gate
Over time, some pressure-mounted baby gates may become loose or move slightly out of place. Be sure to check it every once in a while, readjusting it if necessary to keep it secure.