Best Baby Safety Gate Buying Guide

Choosing a baby gate can be extremely tough. There are so many different types of safety gate, all with many confusingly named features. It can be tough to make heads or tails of it all. In this guide, I aim to break down the wall of confusing buzzwords and give you the facts so that you can make an informed decision about your baby’s or pet’s safety. Best Baby Safety Gate Buying Guide help you to get more information.


So, what is a baby gate exactly?


What is a Baby Gate?

Do you ever find that your child or pet is getting into places they shouldn’t be? If you want to keep your baby out of a certain room, or away from the stairs, then a best baby baby gate is exactly what you want. These function as a barrier almost impossible for your child to get past, whilst still allowing easy access for adults.


Sounds useful, right? So, how do you know whether a baby gate will work for you?


What Do you Need to Know Before you Buy?

Unfortunately, as a direct result of genetic diversity and a lack of rigid standardised building codes, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to your baby gate needs. As such, there is no such best baby gate for everyone. So, what factors do you need to take into account before purchasing?


The width of the gap that you wish to cover

Houses come in all different shapes and sizes. So, grab a tape measure and measure the width of the gap you want to install a baby gate in. This is particularly important if you’re looking to install a gate in an extremely wide gap, such as the divide in a kitchen/living room combo. In such a situation, you’ll be looking for an extra wide baby gate.


The height and weight of your child

Baby gates aren’t magic, and as such they’re going to be entirely ineffective once your child is tall enough to operate the latch, or simply climb over. A good rule is to ensure that your child is no more than ⅔ of the gate’s height. Unfortunately, that’s not feasible as your child grows. Baby gates come in a variety of heights, so you can always get a taller gate if your child is quite tall.


You’ll also need to take note of your child’s weight. As your child grows, they’re going to get stronger, and as such they may eventually become sufficiently heavy to apply enough force that a pressure-mounted gate won’t hold them. I would highly advise you look into hardware mounted gates if your child is starting to get heavy enough that lifting them becomes a challenge. Essentially, if they’re heavy enough that you make tennis-style grunts when you pick them up, they’re heavy enough to dislodge a pressure-mounted gate. Of course, some pressure mounted gates can be quite strong, particularly if you use a combo pressure/hardware mounted gate, where you mount some cups into the wall with screws, then use a pressure screw to attach the gate to the cups.


Also, never use a pressure mounted gate at the top of the stairs. Always search for a hardware mounted gate at the least, preferably one that’s advertised for use at the top of the stairs.


What Are the Categories of Baby Gate?

Functionally, there are three mounting methods for best baby gates: pressure, hardware, and unmounted/free standing.


Mounting Types

Pressure-Mounted

Pressure-mounted gates are perfect for the on-the-go parent. If you’re constantly moving around, then a pressure-mounted gate can be easily installed, removed and moved elsewhere. They’re also extremely easy to install. So, if you don’t feel like drilling holes in your wall, you can just install a pressure-mounted gate. No tools necessary.


Pressure-mounted gates are also perfect for grandparents who occasionally look after their grandchildren. If you only need the gate for like one week every few months, then you can just install it and easily remove and store it again for use next time your grandchildren visit.


Hardware-Mounted

Hardware mounted gates are what you want to be looking at if you want something that you can install and forget about. They are your permanent solution. They’re great if you’re keeping pets. The greatest strength of hardware-mounted gates is their... well... strength. If you use good quality screws for mounting, then they can be extremely difficult to knock over.


This mounting method is also your only choice if you’re planning on mounting a gate at the top of your stairs. Pressure-mounted gates are extremely risky at the top of stairs, as they can be knocked over which could lead to serious injury. I would highly advise you never use a pressure-mounted gate at the top of the stairs. In fact, I’d advise you only use gates advertised for top of stairs use at the top of the stairs, as there are lots of features that top of stairs gates need that some hardware mounted gates won’t have, such as: one-directional locking so that the gate can’t be opened over the staircase.


Unmounted/Free Standing

These gates aren’t mounted at all, in fact, they’re often not designed for use as best baby gates at all. These are essentially just baby gate play yards. So, a free standing enclosure with a gate in. Sometimes, these can be stretched out, to be used as a baby fence, rather than an enclosure. They’re great if you need to keep your child enclosed and safe whilst on-the-go without having to find a room that you can completely close off. You just set the play yard up in the middle of the floor and fold it away when it’s not in use. Sometimes, these can be used as an impromptu extra-wide baby gate if necessary. Some even come with hardware mounting options for when you need to divide an entire room in two rather than just blocking a doorway.


Gate Types

Now, the mounting method is only a single part of the gate as a whole. There are a variety of types of gate with a variety of mounting options to suit your needs. So, what are those gate types?


Regular

Given the variety of designs available, it's hard to define a gate as regular. However, for the purposes of this article, a regular baby gate is a gate that reaches roughly between 28 and 34 inches with a standard style latch unlocking system. These are the kinds of gates that are what most people need.


Wide

Sometimes you just want to block off a wider doorway. Again, there's no rigid definition of a wide gate, but anything that reaches beyond 45 inches probably belongs to this category. These are often a good choice for people who have wide doorways and narrow doorways that they might want to switch between.


Extra-Wide

These are for when you want to divide an entire room in two. They're typically just modular play yards with an optional hardware mounting feature. They're great for making a little enclosure for your child to play in, or for covering a divide in an open-plan kitchen/dining room.


Step-Over

These aren't gates in a traditional sense. They're essentially just an expandable fence that you step over. They're usually really cheap and made of mesh, and are typically extremely easy to install. They're not a brilliant choice if your child is starting to walk around as they're typically quite short so that they can be easily stepped over. I would strongly advise against using these anywhere near stairs as they can be dangerous.


Top of Stair

If you're looking to install a gate at the top of your stairs, there are some features you'll want: one-direction locking, strong hardware mounts, a tall gate, and a baby-proof latch. Without these features, you risk harm to yourself or your baby. A top of stairs baby gate needs to be extremely strong and not open over the stairs, lest you trip. It also needs to be impossible for an explorative baby to climb over.


Features to Look For

When you’re purchasing a baby gate, regardless of the width of your walkway or the strength of your child, there are a few features that you’ll want to keep an eye out for.


Easy unlocking mechanism

If you’ve got to walk through the gate multiple times a day, you’re going to want to get a gate that can be easily unlocked by an adult. You’re going to want to look for gates that have one-hand unlocking mechanisms.


Complete/partial locking

If your gate isn’t in a high-traffic area, you may want to look for a gate that features an additional (but much more difficult) lock that completely prevents the gate from being opened in one direction or both. These are perfect for installation in a playroom, where you won’t be constantly entering and leaving. It means that you don’t have to worry about your toddler figuring out how to use the latch.

Partial locking is also extremely important on stair gates, as you want to completely prevent the gate from opening outwards over the stairs because you might trip.


Buzzword Buster

One-touch unlocking

One-touch unlocking refers to a gate with a really simple one-handed unlocking mechanism. It’s just a fancy way to say “this gate can be opened easily”. The exact buzzword varies between manufacturers, but it’s usually along the same lines. This feature is highly desirable if you’re planning on installing this gate in a high-traffic area, particularly an area where you’ll be often carrying things through.


Walk-through

This is a popular buzzword. It essentially just means that the gate is extremely convenient to walk through, often featuring a one-handed unlocking system. If you can pass through a gate without breaking your stride, then it’s a walk-through gate.


Wall Saver

The primary advantage of a pressure-mounted gate is the lack of drilling needed to install it. However, some pressure-mounted gates use quite small and hard pressure caps (the little bit that you screw against the wall), these can easily damage the paintwork on the wall. Some gates feature a “wall saver design”, which is specifically designed to avoid doing damage to the paint.


You can also purchase additional wall savers which are just large rubber-based cups that you put in between the pressure cap and your wall, further reducing damage.


Auto-close

If a gate boasts auto-close technology, that just means that the gate is spring loaded and will close behind you automatically without any effort. For the most part, the auto-close feature only works like 90% of the time, so I still recommend that you’re vigilant when walking through, lest you leave it open and your child escapes.


Summary

There is a massive variety of baby gates on the market, so you’re bound to find one that’s absolutely perfect for your home. Hopefully, this article has helped break down the categories, features, and buzzwords so that you can find a best baby gate that’s perfect for your home and your budget.

Alicia M. Jackson
 

Alicia M. Jackson is the Editor of BabyGate.org. She is a baby gate enthusiast and loves to share what she knows about baby safety gates by reviewing and writing buying guides. In personal life, she is a mother of three beautiful kids, homemaker, and a blogger.

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