Top 10 Gate Safety Tips for Childproofing

Baby Safety Month Partner, International Association for Child Safety (IAFCS), Shares Important Gate Safety Tips

Selecting appropriate baby gates that combine safety and function, as well as installing them correctly can be tricky. Before you shop, measure the width of your openings because an extension might be necessary.

1.Select hardware-mounted gates for the top of stairways. Hardware-mounted gates are installed with screws. (Don’t worry, you can easily repair small screw holes). Do not use pressure gates at the top of stairways because they can be dislodged or might be a tripping hazard.

2.Install baby gates at both the top AND bottom of stairways. Children can quickly crawl up stairways and fall. Although pressure gates can be used at the bottom of stairways, they cannot safely be installed in some situations (i.e. on stairway posts or on narrow metal railings). Consider blocking your child’s access to the bottom of your stairway by installing a gate in the hallway instead of directly at the bottom of the stairs.

3.Use baby gates that are JPMA certified (they meet the voluntary ASTM standard for baby gates for use for children). Never use gates intended for pets or modify your gate for pets. A pet gate likely does not meet the ASTM standard and is not be a safe choice for childproofing.

4.Use gates to block off dangerous rooms or areas of your home like kitchens or fireplaces. Specialty gates and extensions are available for use around hearths and other odd-shaped spaces.

5. Save your creativity for an art project and skip making your own gate (read #3 again). If you need help, consult the manufacturer or a professional childproofer for advice.

6. Installations above most baseboard moldings will not be safe. Baby gates require spaces to be less than 3 inches which is different than typical building codes for railings. Check the instructions. Altering the installation of the gate to accommodate baseboard molding or a pet can put your child’s safety at risk and can allow entrapment of a young child.

7.Install gate hardware into the wall stud or wood (do not use hollow wall anchors). Sometimes the screws that come with gates are not long enough for installation into a stud behind drywall so plan ahead for a visit to the hardware store. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for assistance. 

8. Baby gates are designed for children from 6 – 24 months.  Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for other safety tips for when to discontinue the use of gates. Your baby is going to get faster, taller and stronger – be prepared for your growing child.

9. Do not climb over baby gates. Your child may get the idea that it is safe to climb the gate, you could accidentally dislodge the gate while climbing, or climbing could cause an injury.

10. Show guests how to use baby gates. If they don’t know how, they might climb over them, leave them open or damage them.

After your gates are installed, check them regularly. Remember, adult supervision is still important even when gates are installed.