Deciding to use a baby gate is a good decision for any parent dealing with curious and energetic babies between six and 24 months. These children will explore to their heart’s content without any thought of self-preservation, which means you need to take extra precautions to keep them safe.
There are two types of baby gates in the market: pressure-mounted and hardware-mounted. The former offers a temporary yet more mobile solution for barricading unsafe areas, like the kitchen, bathroom, fireplace, and stairways. The latter brings a more permanent and secure blocking method for the same areas, with a more specialized focus on the tops of the stairs.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Baby Gates
Whether you’re looking to purchase a hardware- or pressure-mounted baby gate, make sure to check the width measurements of the doorways and openings you plan to position your baby gates between. Avoid gates that need to be stretched to their full capacity in order to fit.
Here are a few other important things to look for:
1. Ease of Operation
A baby gate that’s difficult to operate is going to be one headache on top of another. Seeing how keeping watch over your little one is already very difficult, you’ll want to make things easier on yourself by choosing a baby gate that’s easy to shut and open even with a baby in your arms.
While it’s important to look for a gate that can be operated smoothly, you shouldn’t select one that’s at risk of being opened by children. Remember that kids are curious and might be trying to figure out how your baby gates work.
Baby gates can be opened in different ways. There are some gates that you either slide or swing open, and others that have smaller doorways at their center.
Height is also an important quality to look for in a baby gate. You don’t want one that’s not high enough, particularly if you have extra-adventurous children on the other side. Remember that it doesn’t take a lot to convince a child to climb over a gate. They just need to see something shiny, sparkly, or new on the other side to trigger their inner adrenaline junkie.
With that said, the ideal height for gates should be about three-quarters of your child’s height. That should be around 23 inches tall, which is enough to discourage your child from scaling the gate.
3. Slats Gap
The distance between slats is something that the Juveniles Product Manufacturing Association or JPMA recommends parents consider when choosing a baby gate. According to the organization, this gap must be under three inches because anything wider would pose a risk for children squeezing through it. Furthermore, the slats should be positioned vertically so children won’t be able to use them for climbing.
4. Size and Adjustability
As mentioned, we don’t want gates that need to be stretched to their limits in order to fit. Gates that need to be taken to their maximum width to block an area might not be secure enough to prevent a toddler from scaling over or taking them down. The ideal gate should be of the right size and flexibility to accommodate openings of various widths.
5. Safety Certification
For safety certification, we rely on the American Society for Testing or the Juveniles Product Manufacturing Association or JPMA. These organizations only certify products they deem safe to use.
Some companies, like North States, have independent labs that certify whether their products meet or exceed the standards for juvenile products and regulations set by the JPMA.
6. Sturdy Construction
For a baby gate to be reliable, durability is key. The gates you end up choosing should be able to maintain their strength and pressure for a considerable amount of time. Remember that an ambitious toddler could be looking for ways to conquer their barricades every single day. This could mean a lot of pushing and trying to climb over the gate on a daily basis.
A gate that’s sturdy and has an even finish should be enough to keep your persistent child at bay until he gives up. Usually, these products are sold by reputable companies and also come with their ironclad warranties.
7. Other Features
Of course, a gate’s regular features may not be enough for you. For those who have specific needs and preferences, there are products that offer extra features, like extra-wide stretching and safe night lights.
Once you’ve taken that first step and acquired the necessary measurements, it shouldn’t be too hard for you to explore all the options out there.
A few important things factor into the baby-gate selection process. You need to figure out whether you need a permanent or movable solution for a particular area, consider all the important qualities of a baby gate, and choose the right baby gates for stairs, which are arguably the most unsafe areas in your homes for active toddlers.
More Baby Safety Tips