So is it time to baby proof your house? That means that you are probably thinking about baby gates…what to look for, what to avoid. Even though baby gates obviously exist for the purpose of keeping your little one safe, that doesn’t mean that every baby gate in every situation will ACTUALLY protect your baby.
That’s right! Here are some common pitfalls that every parent should look out for when choosing and installing baby stair gates around their home:
The gate is too short.
It is recommended that a baby gate be at least ¾ of the height of your child. This means that if the gate is lower than their chest or shoulders, or if they can hang their head and upper body over the railing, it is not tall enough. Choose a taller gate!
A pressure-mounted gate is installed at the top of the stairs.
This is a big NO-NO! Pressure-mounted gates can SEEM secure, but if they work loose, are pushed against with force, or are installed incorrectly, it is possible that they can fail and topple. While that might not be critical in most areas, it can be terribly dangerous at the top of stairs. Only install a permanent-mount gate when there are steps involved.
The gate is old, used, broken, or missing parts.
It is not recommended to use any baby gates that have these problems. They can prove to be a serious hazard and are more likely to fail when put to the test. If a gate has a missing bolt, loose hinges, malfunctioning locks, latches that can pinch, or any other weakness, it is just a matter of time before someone gets hurt.
The gate has “footholds.”
Oddly enough there are actually some baby gates that are fairly easy for a small child to climb over because they have a structure that includes “holes” that little feet and toes can get into. If that happens, a toddler is definitely at risk of clamboring up one side and falling down the other. Besides becoming an escape route, it also means your child could have a nasty tumble. Choose a gate with long upright rods, not crossway slats if your kiddo is big enough to even try this!
The gate is installed incorrectly.
This is a fairly common problem that you want to guard against. Read the instructions that came with your gate so that you don’t make any critical mistakes when putting it into place. When installing a permanent-mount gate, make sure that the screws bite into a stud so that the gate stays securely attached. When installing a pressure-mount gate, make sure it is very tight so that it can’t jiggle loose or be knocked over.
Your child gets too old or too big.
Baby gates are designed to be used for infants and toddlers up to age two. Once your child becomes big enough, strong enough, or smart enough to work the latch, climb over or push over the gate, or breach it in any other way, it is time to stop using your baby gate, as it is no longer a safety device. Baby gates for older, bigger kids give a false sense of security. Don’t fall into that trap.
Now that you have all these factors fresh in your mind, you are prepared to choose and use a baby gate that can keep your baby safe and secure!
Bio for Melanie Pierce-
Melanie is mom to five energetic kids, including a sweet new baby. She enjoys homeschooling her children from a peaceful parenting perspective and traveling with her family whenever she can. Her hobbies include playing the guitar, gardening, and relaxing with a hot cup of coffee. She freelances in her spare time and loves to write about this crazy journey called parenthood. She also is an author at BabyGateExperts.com, a blog which helps parents unravel the mysteries of baby-gating.