Baby safety gates are effective childproofing barriers and come in a variety of designs to meet different needs. But heading to the store or online to shop without the right information or preparation can be daunting. These tips and handy printable Baby Gate Worksheet can help busy parents select the right gate(s) the first time to make homes safe and livable for all family members.
1. Consider Gate Location
Where is the gate going to be used? The location often dictates the type of gate you need. Most gates fall into one of two categories:
Hardware-Mounted Safety Gates: Hardware-mounted safety gates attach directly to the wall or doorway using screws. These are the safest, most secure baby gates and should be used for dangerous areas such as stairways – especially at the top – and for long spans and irregular-shaped areas.
Pressure-Mounted Safety Gates: Pressure gates stay in place using pressure applied to cushioned pads against the walls instead of screws. They’re great for the bottom of the stairs and in doorways and hallways, but should not be used at the top of stairs.
2. Measure Gate Opening
What is the size of the opening or area where you’ll be installing your gate? Baby safety gates are adjustable to fit a range of widths and can be lengthened further using extensions – some are even designed specifically for irregular shaped areas. Precise measurements are recommended before selecting and installing any baby safety gate.
Basic Straight Baby Gates for Doors, Stairs, Halls and Spans: Measure the opening width straight across — as well as the height of partial walls or banisters if applicable. If installing a baby gate on an angle, measure the width along the desired angle.
Baby Gates for Irregular-Shaped Areas like Hearths, Entryways: Baby safety gates designed for irregular-shaped areas, such as curved entryways or fireplace hearths, are configured in movable sections and size is measured by running length. The HearthGate and Configure Gate are popular baby gates for irregular areas.
3. Any Special Installation Needs?
Most baby safety gates include hardware to install the gate into a wooden stud, wooden doorway or other secure wooden base. In other situations, installation kits help create a proper mounting surface to securely install baby gates. Plus, installation kits can help prevent or minimize damage to walls and woodwork.
Stairway Spindle and Banister Kits – A “No Holes” Solution: Banister, spindle and metal railing kits allow installation of safety gates onto stair railings without drilling holes into posts or woodwork. They work with most round, square and combination post styles. One kit is needed per post side; ie: if the stairway has a wall on one side and a post on the other, you’ll need one banister kit to install the gate. Stairs with banisters on both sides will need two kits, one per side.
All-Purpose Installation Kits: Multi-purpose kits aid with safety gate installation for hollow drywall (with no stud behind the sheetrock), walls with tall decorative baseboards, and other special needs.
Shop Smart! Before you shop for baby gates, print out the Free Baby Gate Worksheet at KidSmartLiving.com, to record gate types, sizes and any special installation details specific to your home’s needs.