Baby gates are an indispensable part of parenting life. As soon as your baby becomes even slightly mobile – and yes, that includes rolling over! – you need some way of keeping him or her safe. Not just from the stairs, which are a very popular area for baby gates, but also from other hazards that may arise. You’ll have to think through your own layout carefully to make sure your baby gates are optimally placed, but these tips can help you work it out.
I have worked from home since my youngest was about a year old. In my old job, I had to have a little bit of time each day during which he wasn’t running around screaming, and so I would sit in the front room. However, with the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs, he learned to open the door to the back room and come harass me by banging on the door to the front room. This also allowed him to run amok and harangue any guests we had, since our sofa bed, reserved for guests, is in the front room too. We relocated the baby gate to the back room doorway, and now it’s far easier to keep him reasonably contained. This type of gate setup can be very handy. Just remember that, under supervision, the gate can be left open in situations where it would be fun or good for the child to have free roam – but then you should keep a close eye out to prevent accidents from happening.
Obviously, the kitchen can be full of dangers. Here, too, baby gates can come in handy. Simply block off the door to the kitchen and you don’t need to worry about your toddler toddling in and pulling a pan of boiling food or water over him- or herself. If you have an open-plan setup and need to keep your child safe, consider using baby fencing instead, and follow a few basic safety tips such as always using the back burners and never allowing the panhandles to overhang the cooker’s edge. This prevents your baby from reaching a pan full of hot contents.
There is a wide variety of baby gates available, and the main difference lies in how they lock. There are also variations in width, and it is very important to measure the doorway or space you plan to use it in prior to purchasing the unit. You’ll want to be sure it will fit, and obviously when you have odd-sized doorways it is extra important to ensure that the gate will fit it properly. An incorrectly fitted gate can become so loose your child can knock it over and not only become injured in the ensuing crash but also push past the gate and get into dangerous territory.
Some baby gates rely on a complex locking system. These have screws with large flat heads sticking out the sides and small plastic locks which attach to the wall and lock in the heads. They are complicated to operate, at least for a toddler, as you have to either press a button or push a lever out of the way to open them, but their weakest point is the place where the lock attaches to the wall and weaker walls will not offer much resistance to high pressure. Alternatively are simple handles which require you to press buttons on either side to lift the handle and those relying on pure strength, with a strong spring holding the handle down. Either of these are easier to operate and install, and will offer a sturdier and safer system.
If you’re looking for standard baby gates, supermarkets such as ASDA and Tesco can help you out. For more complex items such as baby fences, Mothercare can help out; check their website for the right products.