Safety of Baby Gates – What Parents Must Know
When it came time to look for the right baby gate for our baby (now 14 years old!) we spent a lot of time speaking with family, friends, and visiting appropriate stores for advice. For us and many parents, the main concern was to get a gate to protect our child from falling down the stairs.
There are a variety of baby gates out there made from different materials. Many of the most popular types of gates are made from plastic and wood while some are made of some sort of netting. The netting ones are used primarily to surround a child to make a sort of playpen.
When it comes to safety though the right gate is extremely important. Its critical to decide your purpose of getting the gate and where you intend to install it. For the purpose of simplification, there are really two types of safety gates.
Pressure Mounted Gates
Pressure gates are the most popular type can made from either wood or plastic and requires no tools to install. These types of gates are known as pressure gates because they stay in place by applying pressure to the walls on either side. These gates can also be referred to as Walk Through gates. They are used primarily to keep kids from either entering or leaving a particular room or walking down the hallway. They only take minutes to put up and can be used almost anywhere. Popular companies that make these types of gates are Evenflo, Regalo, and Kidco. We never used pressure mounted gates so its hard for me to really recommend any particular brand.
Wall Mountable or Stair Gates
The other type of gate is known as Wall Mountable or Stair gate. Like the Pressure gates they come in a variety of materials. Most wall mountable gates require tools to install as they are attached directly to your wall by hinges. These types of gates can be tricky to install and this is the main reason why people choose pressure gates. Wall mountable gates are also made by the same companies as pressure mounted gates i.e. Evenflo, Kidco, Regalo. We have used the Evenflo Top-of-Stair gate for our home. They are one of the most popular stair gates and we purchased ours at Toys R Us. I highly recommend this gate and you can get it here.
Which to Buy?
Deciding which type of gate to get depends on what you need it for. Most people prefer to get the pressure mounted gates because they are quite easy to install and can be used almost anywhere making them the ideal choice over wall mounted gates. Now this is where the confusion comes in. While, pressure gates are often advertised as Stair gates because they could be used to keep babies from climbing the stairs, these gates should not be used for the top of stairs!
As I mentioned above, pressure gates stay in place by applying pressure to the walls on both sides. Just as they can be mounted quickly and easily so could they come down easily. In fact, babies and toddlers can sometimes push these gates down when they their full weight is pressed against it. Therefore, these gates are not to be used for the top of stairs. Get a wall mounted gate and proper mounting kit to attach the gate properly to the top of stairs. One side will be attached directly to the wall but the other side will need to be attached to the top newel (the top beam of the stairs that holds up the hand rail). Depending on the thickness of the newel, you might need to attack a piece of wood in order to get it the right strength and size to support the gate or purchase a stairway installation kit so that your gate sits securely.
Unfortunately, people are often lazy and dont want to be bothered with the complexity of installing a stair gate properly to ensure the safety of their child. Either its too difficult to install it yourself or costs too much to have it installed by a professional. This often leads people to getting and using pressure gates. To my shock, I have often seen pressure gates used on glass panelled railings as well. This is a double safety issue as the pressure from the gate could shatter the glass. I can not stress how important it is to use the proper gate for the top of your stairs. So what if it costs $50 to have it installed professionally. Just get it done and keep your kid safe!
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