Foter

Baby-proofing your home isn't for the faint of heart, but it's definitely a good step to take if you're looking to ensure that your home is as safe as it possibly can be for your beloved child. One easy way to ensure that no harm comes to any infant crawling about your home is to install baby gates - but there are so many to choose from!

What are the important features to consider and questions to ask when looking for a good baby gate? We'll cover that---and more---in this handy guide.

What are the best materials for baby gates?

Baby gates can be grouped by the materials out of which they are made:

Wood

Wood is likely the most aesthetically pleasing of the common baby gate materials. Solid wood baby gates are made to blend into your decor without making your space feel overly baby-oriented. Wood baby gates are thus a good choice if you're looking for a subtler, more natural alternative. 

On the other hand, if the gate is not properly finished and regularly inspected, splinters might cause minor injuries. An accordion wooden baby gate can also pinch little fingers between the slats that will stretch across a doorway.

Wooden Easy Walk Thru Safety Gate
Flexi Fit Angle Mount Safety Gate
Wooden Extending Safety Gate
Adjustable Wood Safety Gate
Simple Wooden Safety Gate
Walk Through Wooden Safety Gate

Metal

If you're looking for a long-lasting baby gate with an industrial vibe, metal is you best choice. Just make sure there are no loose elements or sticking out hardware.

Extra Safe Metal Baby Gate
3 In 1 Play Pen Safety Gate
Three Panel Metal Safety Baby Gate
Outdoor Metal Safety Gate
Easy Walk Through Metal Safety Gate
Walk Through Tall Metal Baby Safety Gate

Plastic

Plastic baby gates represent a durable yet thrifty choice. Plastic is more forgiving when your little one takes a tumble, but some plastics include chemicals that may be toxic for your child. If you're intending to buy a safety gate made of plastic, look for one that's free of polyvinyl chloride.

Auto Retractable Baby Safety Gate
Playpen Baby Safety Gate
Easy Fit Safety Baby Gate
Baby Safety Gate With Nature View
Screen Door Saver Safety Gate
Two Panel Gate Extension

Mesh

If you're purchasing a baby gate for portable purposes, you can also find some made of simple netting with wire sides. These are cheaper than their sturdier alternatives, but likely not suited to permanent use.

How are baby gates mounted?

Baby gates are often categorized by the way they mount to the wall. In other words, how do they stay put once they're in place? There are two types of mounted baby gates---pressure-based and hardware-based.

Pressure mounting

Pressure mounts are incredibly easy to install, as you don't need any extra tools or materials to get started! The baby gate will simply extend to the sides of the hall or door you're gating, and will push up against the walls to stay up. They shouldn't leave any marks on your wall, but the may create a hole in the drill wall when they are too tight.

A major disadvantage of pressure mounted baby gates is that they may bepushed down (in some extreme cases of force), if you have a stronger toddler or large animal in your home. NEVER install pressure mounted bay gates on top of the stairs.

Easy Install Auto Close Safety Gate
Tall Wide Safety Gate
Easy Step Safety Gate
Extra Safety Pressure Mount Gate
Pressure Mount Safety Gate
Extra Tall Premium Pressure Gate

Hardware mounting

Hardware-mounted baby gates have components which are screwed or nailed into the wall. They may therefore take a little longer to set up than alternatives which can simply be extended and propped, but once properly installed they will be impossible for an infant to move. They will leaves holes on your wall once they are removed, but that's not much of a problem these days. 

Which method you choose will depend upon the nature of the walls where you wish to install your baby gate as well as the conditions you suspect your children may put the gate through!

Easy Walk-Thru Safety Gate
Adjustable Wood Safety Gate
Hardware Mount Outdoor Safety Gat
Stairway Special Hardware Mount Safety Gate
Easy Walk Thru Metal Safety Gate
Easy Walk Thru Tall Metal Safety Gate

Free standing gates

A free standing baby gate is used precisely as the name suggests. It stands upright on its own, so no drilling and no walls at all are necessary. As such it is very convenient when you just want to set up a visual barrier between your little one and potential danger, but don't expect it to prevent a strong child from knocking it over. If your child is a climber, a free standing gate is perhaps not the best idea.

What features do baby gates have?

Baby gates can also be grouped by the types of features they offer you! These features can make them easier to use and more suited to your life. Common features are: 

  • Swinging Door: Perhaps the most popular of all baby gate accessories, a swinging door can ensure that adults can go through the gated areas easily without having to step over the gate each time. 

  • Included Extenders and Installation Kits: While extenders and installation kits are often available as separate purchases, investing in a baby gate which already has them may be an investment in a frustration-free installation and your peace of mind. 

  • Extra Tall: If you're gating off a certain area against pets who can jump higher or young children who have learned to climb, investing in a baby gate which is above the standard height of about 32" may be wise. 

  • Pet doors: If you have a cat or small dog, you might want to look for a gate that enables your pet to get around easily while keeping your little one safe.

Ultimately, if you're looking for ease of use and optimum durability and longevity, opting for a plastic or metal baby gate with a swinging door and included extenders may be a best bet.

What locking mechanisms are best for baby gates?

As the main point of a baby gate is you being able to get through while your baby cannot, ensuring that you can open the gate for best use is key! 

  • Buttons: A push-to-release button at the top of the gate is difficult to open for small kids, but as they grow older, they may try to manipulate it and open it accidentally. Mind you, some buttons are extremely difficult to open with one hand, so always test several solutions before you purchase anything.

  • Latches: While they can come in a variety of forms, a latch at the top of the gate is a simple lever or lock which can be pulled open by you---but likely not a child. It is considered a safe locking mechanism: it's easy to use, and difficult for a child to manipulate.

  • Foot pedals: These are small plastic or metal pedals at the base of a gate which trigger the gate to open. They are great for when you have younger children, as they allow you to navigate the door hands-free. There is a small chance that older children may be able to figure out how it works, so just keep an eye out for that as your child's motor function grows!

  • Double or triple locking mechanism: Such mechanisms are completely childproof and give you the much needed peace of mind. Also, choose a gate with a self-locking mechanism that closes the door automatically behind you.

What size baby gate should I get?

There are three widths that are standard in the baby gate industry. To get a sense for which type you'll need, first start by measuring the hall or doorway which you'll want to gate. Once you have that measurement in mind, you can go shopping! 

The most common gate sizes are: 

  • Narrow (Less than 30")
  • Standard (30"-55")
  • Extra-Wide (56" and above)

Note that if the intended place for your baby gate falls very close to one of these measurements, it's better to size down than to size up. It's very easy to purchase an extender as an accessory for a baby gate, but very hard to place a 56" item in a 55" hallway!

How tall should my baby gate be?

For starters, you'll want your baby gate to be tall enough that your baby won't be able to hop or climb over it. It may be convenient for it to be short enough that you can easily step over it so you don't have to open it each time an adult needs to go through the gated area, if you would rather not have a baby gate with a swinging door option. 

To be more precise, a baby gate must be at least 22" tall. A rule of thumb is to buy one at least yourchild's height.

Keep in mind that a standard heigh is approximately 30". If your family is taller or if you'll be using the gate to corral pets as well as infants, you may wish to consider extra-tall heights.

How to choose a safe baby gate?

As with many baby-oriented purchases, the first thing you'll need to consider is safety. By looking for just a few simple things, you'll be able to be sure that your baby will be safe in your home! 

  • Check for a a Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification or endorsement on the gate you're considering. This way, you'll know the gate has been thoroughly vetted and approved for sale by a Testing and Materials governing entity. 
  • Check that your baby gate hasn't been recalled on sites like Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
  • Once the gate is installed, check it regularly for sharp edges, splinters, loose parts, and peeling paint.
  • If you're planning on putting the gate at the top of the stairs, choose a hardware-mount gate instead of a pressure-mount gate. 
  • According to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), a baby gate shouldn't be less than 22 inches in height
  • Ensure that the gate you choose doesn't leave more than a 2 inch gap over the floor to make sure that no little hands or feet will get stuck in it! 
  • Any bars or slats in the gate should be no more than 2.5 inches apart, so that your child's head won't get stuck in the gate itself!

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