Choosing a Child or Baby Safety Gate
Safety gates are designed to prevent your child falling down the stairs and to stop them having access to selected areas of the home. In general, they range in size from widths of approximately 600mm to 10m and are around 1m in height.
There are two main categories of gates – screw fixing and pressure fitting. There are also many speciality gates and fixing kits available to fit odd and irregular shaped openings. You can be sure that whatever the size or shape of opening you want to secure, there will be a gate available.
So What Types of Stair Gates are there?There are a number of different types of stair gates available which are described below. At the bottom of this article are links to some of the most popular products on the market. Whatever gate you choose, make sure it complies with Safety Gate Standards.
- Screw Fitting Stair Gates – can be used at the top of stairs or on doorways. They are fairly easy to install but do require fixings to be screwed to the wall so you need to get out the drill. The two main benefits of this type of gate are that, when fitted properly, the gate cannot come loose, and there is no bar across the bottom which can present a tripping hazard at the top of a set of stairs when the gate is open.
- Pressure Fitting Stair Gates – are easy to fit without the need for screws or permanent adhesives, as they basically expand outward until they become wedged into the doorframe. These gates are ideal for separating rooms that are on the same level but they must not be used at the top of stairs (see below). They offer the benefit of being able to be moved fairly easily between any openings.
- Auto Close Baby Gate – these gates, as you might expect, close by themselves to give extra security and peace of mind. Most are easy to install with pressure type fittings. An award-winning version of this is the Clippasafe Auto-Close Gate.
- Banister and Balcony Guards – are a simple way to ensure that your child doesn't get stuck or slip through gaps. Two popular uses are on stairs and banisters and railings on balconies.
- Retractable Stair Gate – suitable for children up to 24 months, these are like a roller blind on its side with a tough fabric to withstand a 100kg impact. They need to be screwed to the wall and are around twice the price of a screw or pressure fitting gate.
- Travel Safety Gates – collapsible gates for travelling are pressure mounted so there is no fixing required. They are generally made of heavy duty nylon and mesh and weigh between 2kg-3kg.
- Unique Space Stair Gate – these are gates that are specifically designed to handle a variety of unusual spaces and configurations, such as spaces without opposing and parallel walls, fireplaces, and extra wide spaces.
- Wooden Baby Gates – both screw fixing and pressure fitting gates are available in a wood finish. The main advantage of these gates is the aesthetic appearance. One consideration is the potential damage by pets.
- Baby Gate Extensions Pieces – extension pieces are available for many safety gates to extend the span that the gate will protect. You need to make sure you use the appropriate extension kits for your gate.
Never Use a Pressure Fitting Gate at the Top of Stairs!Particular attention should be given when selecting a baby gate for use at the top of a stairway. A pressure mounted gate uses pressure to 'clamp' itself in between an opening and there is the danger your child can push the gate over. In addition, there is a bottom rail which presents a major tripping hazard. Always use a screw fitting gate on stairs.
How Old is Your Child?Most gates are only suitable for children up to the age of between 24 and 30 months, though you should check the specific information for your gate.
Dos and Don'ts for the Use of Safety Gates
- DO select a safety gate which complies with a recognised standard such as EN 1930:2000 – for home safety barriers designed to fit across openings to limit access to stairs for children aged less than 24 months.
- DO read the manufacturer's mounting instructions and be sure the gate is secure when installed. Use a mounting kit, unless you are mounting the gate to a wooden door frame or other flat wood surface.
- DO get in the habit of closing child safety gates all the time, even if your baby is sleeping. After closing, test the locking mechanism to make sure it works properly.
- DO install baby safety gates early – before your child is mobile and remove the gate in accordance with manufacturer instructions (normally when your child is around 24 months old).
- DON'T use a pressure-mounted gate at the top of the stairs.
- DON'T buy a second-hand gate. The gate may not adhere to current safety standards and may have worn over time. It's not worth the risk given the price of a new gate.
- DON'T let your child see you climb over a child safety gate – they will attempt to copy you.
- DON'T leave your child unattended, or rely on safety gates to keep your child safe.