When a child becomes mobile, it’s time for parents to spring into action to prevent accidents. Stairs, floor-level cabinets, and other potential dangers become accessible. Baby gates are a must for keeping little ones in a safely controlled setting. Here is what to consider when purchasing baby gates for your home.
Safety gate locations
Safety gates should be used at the top and bottom of staircases and any other entry points to rooms with potential hazards that can’t be closed off by shutting a door. Also, think about the locations of sharp objects, chemicals, medications, and other potential hazards in your home.
Up until about two years old, a child’s height and manual dexterity make it unlikely he or she will be able to open a well-designed gate. However, you know your child best. No gate replaces adult supervision.
Evaluating a safety gate
There are three key components to look for in a safety gate.
- How the gate attaches to the wall or door is important. The three typical options are pressure mounts, fixed hardware, or a combination of the two. A hardware-mounted gate is the most secure. A pressure-mounted gate could give way with enough force against it. This type should never be installed at the top of a flight of stairs.
- The latch to open the gate should be dual action, meaning two separate and distinct actions must be taken before the gate will open. For example, many dual-action gates require you to press a button or lift a latch and then lift the gate door before it swings open. A two-step mechanism will be beyond the dexterity capabilities of most toddlers.
- The slats or bars should run vertically, not horizontally. Children could use horizontal bars or slats as footholds for climbing over the gate.
Gates made of metal are more durable and stronger than plastic ones.
Always check the federal government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission website regarding unsafe gates and recalls if using an older gate or a hand-me-down. The old-fashioned wooden accordion gates are an example of a gate that should never be used. That style was linked to several deaths from strangulation.
Finally, using gates to confine children doesn’t guarantee their safety or replace adult supervision. Always be aware of your youngster’s location and activity. Never leave them unattended.
Related – Child Proofing Your Home