Baby gates are an important part of making your home safe for your child. A baby gate will prevent your little one from straying into areas of danger, such as the stairs or the kitchen. It will also protect areas or items from your child, for instance a room that you wish to keep a ‘child free zone’ for adults to enjoy.
The most common use for baby gates is on the stairs and parents will usually have a gate at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom. This will ensure a child that is mobile will not be in a position of potential danger and serious injury.
Not Just For Stairs
Most parents will have baby gates for stairs but they can actually be used wherever you want to have them. Before we had our children we used a baby gate to section off part of our kitchen, keeping our dog in his own area.
Now we have a toddler on the loose we have a baby gate in the doorway to her bedroom and one in the door to our living room. We don’t actually have one across the stairs anymore as she is old enough to negotiate the stairs quite safely. Until she was able to use the stairs on her own we did have a gate top and bottom. This gave us peace of mind for those times when she had wondered off out of sight.
There are so many types of baby gate available that it can be overwhelming at first when trying to choose the best ones. It might be best to go and look at some in the stores, or see what your friends and family are using if they have young children.
Pressure Mounted Baby Gates
In our house I prefer to use pressure mounted baby gates. They require no fixings that damage walls or door frames; no screws and drilling needed. The advantage of these is that your walls stay intact and generally unmarked when the gates are removed. When fitted, a pressure mounted gate will hold itself against the surface on each side. There are usually threaded bolts that can be adjusted on each side top and bottom. As they are screwed out against the walls the gate sides are held in place and begin to move inwards. This engages the bracket that holds the gate shut.
For larger gaps you can get an extra wide baby gate which is pressure mounted. The gate will either be in one piece that adjusts to size, or it will have some extra bars you can slide in at each end to make up the gap.
Our baby gates came with a tension measuring tool. By pulling up on the gate with the tool it tells you if the release mechanism is strong enough to prevent a child from using it. If not, an extra turn of the bolts adds a little extra pressure for more security.
Stairs With Banisters
If you are looking for baby gates for stairs with banisters the pressure mounted ones are ideal. As I previously mentioned they require no drilling or screwing into things. Like me, many people don’t want to drill holes into their wooden banisters, doorways or any other place for that matter. Wooden baby gates may look better on stairs with banisters as they will blend in more with the decor in that area. If you have metal banisters a wooden gate may not be the best choice.
Retractable Baby Gates
Other types of baby gate I have seen recently are retractable baby gates for stairs. These work by fixing a vertical roll of material, often a strong woven mesh, to one side of the stairs. On the other side you attach a small retaining bracket top and bottom. Our friends have one at the bottom of their stairs.
Just like a roller blind in the kitchen window you pull the mesh across the stairs and fix it on the other side. There is a button or slide of some sort that an adult can easily release to retract the guard again. I say easy but actually I couldn’t work it out the first few times and I had to ask for help.
This type of baby gate could be a good choice as there may be ranges available with a number of colors or patterns on them. This would certainly brighten up your child’s room whilst they are confined to that space.
Fixed Baby Gates
Of course there are fixed baby gates as well. Both the retractable and fixed gates must be screwed or attached to the wall or surface where they are mounted. For many people this may be a disadvantage as is means physically damaging the surface. OK, it’s not the end of the world if you have to fill a couple of small screw holes in a year’s time with filler and paint. It is extra work you may not want to have the hassle of doing.
Essentially on one side you have a couple of holding brackets that support the weight of the gate when it is open. Then on the other side you will have a bracket at the top that receives the end of the gate to keep it shut. That’s it but obviously the receiving bracket with have some kind of security mechanism to prevent tiny hands getting the gate open. One advantage of the fixed baby gates is that there will be no bottom section across the stair or floor. How many times have people in our house banged their toe as they walk through to our living room? Quite a lot actually; they are not used to our house and don’t expect it to be there.
When we were growing up my dad never liked us sticking things like posters to our walls or using pins in the wood work to hold things up. That has kind of stayed with me as I have grown up and now, as a parent, I can see his point. I have spent a lot of time and money decorating our family home and I don’t want to spend time putting things right or re-painting a whole wall just because of a small mark on it.
Which Baby Gate Is Best?
From my experience I would advise using pressure mounted baby gates, whether it be for stairs or a doorway. They are easier to install and involve no measuring and no drilling. They can be put up in a couple of minutes and can be taken down even quicker. They come in a range of styles; wooden, metal and plastic.
If you like the feel of absolute security with a more permanent fixture, go for a fixed baby gate that screws to the wall. However, consider where it is to be used and whether the fixings will actually be suited to that location.
I am not a big fan of retractable baby gates as you can’t always see through them and a child has to peer over them to see anybody. If it is used at the bottom of the stairs it’s not a huge problem because they shouldn’t be on the stairs in the first place. They can also recoil quite quickly if they slip from your grasp too. What if a little finger was at the other end?