There are many types of safety gates on the market, and it can be confusing determining which one you might need. There are many factors involved such as location, frequency of use, mounting type, aesthetics, size, and cost involved.
Types of Baby Gates:
Hardware mounted gates attach to walls and banisters with hardware and screws. They are the most secure type of gate. They are ideal for the top of stairways, but can also separate rooms. They are available in wood or metal of various colors to match your décor. They vary in size and have add-on extensions for wider openings. They can be mounted between two walls, two banisters, or a banister and a wall. All latch securely, but are designed for easy adult use. Hardware mounted gates must be mounted to a solid surface, and not a hollow wall. If a wall stud is not present where you need to mount the gate, a gate mounting kit will be needed for anchorage. Often times tall baseboards will interfere with the installation of a gate and it will also require a gate mounting kit.
Pressure mounted gates are easy to install, and are great to block off doorways, and hallways. They expand to fit the opening width and secure with tension against the sides of the opening. Never use pressure gates at the top of a stairway, because it is possible for some children to dislodge them. There are portable pressure gates available with carrying cases for use on trips away from home.
Walk-through Gates are comprised of a fixed section, and a swinging door portion (walk-thru). Walk-through gates come in many sizes and may extend up to 20 feet or more with extensions. They come in hardware mounted and pressure mounted versions. Some can be configured in irregular shapes to fit individual needs. All walk-through gates have a bottom threshold and feature one-hand latching. Walk-through gates are not ideal for stairways but are most often used in doorways to separate rooms, or to block off large openings.
Steps in selecting your gate:
- Location: If it is going to be used at the top of a stairway, use a hardware mounted gate. If blocking off a room, use a pressure or walk-thru gate.
- Size: Measure the width and height of your opening. Determine if a standard size will work. Most gates come with extension kits for wider openings.
- Mounting: Determine if you need mounting kits for circumstances such as a hollow wall, banister, wrought iron railing, etc. Kits are available to create a proper mounting surface or to eliminate holes at wood banisters.
- Finish: Choose between metal or wood, in a color appropriate for your home.
Tips for Baby Gates:
- Use only gates which have a vertical slat design. Gates constructed with square mesh provide footholds for baby to climb the gate.
- Beware of expandable wood gates with a diamond shape mesh. They are climbable and can pinch fingers.
- Consider installing the gate for the bottom of a stairway in the hallway or foyer leading to the stairway. Installing here may be easier and better looking.
- Choose a gate which is JPMA or ASTM certified.
- Don’t use a pressure mounted gate at the top of a stairway.
- Resist the urge to climb over gates. Children will imitate this behavior.
- Always secure the gate latch every time you use it.
- Follow the manufacturers instructions concerning installation of the gate, and at what stage of development to remove a gate.