A baby gate is an indispensable childproofing tool. These days, they are practically universal in homes with small children. Baby gates serve a critical need, keeping infants, toddlers, and even pets from falls, accidents, or simply getting into something they shouldn't! Baby gates are absolutely essential to protect children from areas of the house than can never be fully childproofed, like the staircase.
Baby gates come in seemingly countless varieties and designs, so it might be somewhat intimidating making a choice. Babyage.com is here to help. Below, you will find all the information you will need to make the smartest, safest choice for you and your baby.
Child safety gates are intended for children between 6 months and 24 months of age, not for older children. They’re generally designed so that an adult can open them easily, but a child cannot. (Neither can a pet, unless it’s very smart and you train it well.)
Many hardware-mounted gates are made with vertical wood, enamel-coated steel, or aluminum tubing slats and top and bottom rails. Hardware-mounted gates are the only kind you should use for the top of stairs.
When installed, most of these gates will swing open away from the stairs, for optimal safety. Other brands give you the choice of direction in which the gate will swing, so you can switch it when installing it at the bottom of the staircase, for example.
When using hardware-mounted gateshardware-mounted gates in doorways, you will need to drill holes in the frame or stud behind the wall. You then attach the gate with brackets and screws. When the gate is no longer needed, the holes can be plugged with wood putty or patching compound.
If properly secured to the doorjamb or between two walls, hardware-mounted gates are the most secure choice, although you must bear in mind that no gate is 100% childproof! Be sure the baby gate is securely anchored in the doorway or stairway. Test it to make sure your child cannot push it over.
If you have large, low set windows, you may want to install hardware-mounted gates in the frames.
Pressure-mounted gates are often made with vertical wood, enamel-coated steel, or aluminum tubing slats. They may also be made of plastic, wire, or nylon mesh or plastic-coated wire, which may be framed with end tubes and top rails of either wood or coated metal.
Pressure-mounted gates are suitable for less hazardous locations, such as between rooms. A pressure bar or spring-loaded locking mechanism wedges the gate into place against the door frame or walls. You don’t need to do any drilling or use hardware to install these gates.
Pressure-mounted gates can have two sliding panels that adjust to make the gate fit the opening. These panels are removed or pushed to one side to walk through. Swing-style pressure mounted gates, with doors that swing open are also available.
Gates wedged with an expanding pressure bar should be installed with this bar on the side away from your child. This is to prevent little ones from using the bar as a foothold to climb over the gate. (You know how clever young-uns are these days!) Also avoid gates with horizontal slats—they practically beg to be climbed on.
NEVER use pressure-mounted gates at the top of the staircase. They can pop out and cause your child to fall. Many tragic incidents of this kind have been documented.
If you have older children in the home, you should invest in a gate that automatically swings and snaps closed. The last thing on a child’s mind is closing the gate behind him- or herself.
NEVER use accordion-style baby gates that have large V-shaped openings along the top edge and diamond-shaped openings between the slats. Children have gotten their heads entrapped and died with these gates. They are no longer sold in stores, but you may still find them at yard sales or in thrift stores. That’s where they should stay.
Choose a gate with a straight top edge and rigid bars or mesh screen, or an accordion-style gate with small V-shapes and diamond-shaped openings. Entrances to V-shapes should be no more than 1-1/2 inches (38 mm) in width to prevent head entrapment. Safety gates should be at least 75% as tall as your child.
Look for sturdy construction and an even finish. Wood surfaces should be smooth, splinter-free, and fashioned with rounded edges. Some metal gates have a support bar that crosses the floor beneath the gate, which could cause tripping when the gate is open.
Make certain of the exact width measurements of doors or openings before you buy a gate. Avoid gates that have to be at their maximum width to fit, as they might not be stable enough.
Securing Irregular Spaces:
If your home is like most households, there are probably some hazardous nooks and crannies that cannot be childproofed with standard safety gates. For these odd-shaped areas that don’t have mounting points straight across, customizable or configurable gates are available. These gates usually come with interlocking sections that can be connected at virtually any angle. Gate systems with hinged panels are also an option for customizing a fence-like gate for irregular or extra-wide spaces. BabyAge also offers driveway guards, deck guards, fireplace guards and banister guards specifically designed to keep children safe in those areas.
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