Baby safety gates (sometimes referred to as stair gates or baby gates) are designed to secure certain areas of your home to keep your inquisitive, increasingly mobile baby safe.
Traditionally used at the top and bottom of your stairs, baby safety gates can also be useful for closing off danger zones, such as a utility room or a room where a pet is kept, from toddlers who love to explore.
The best time to install baby safety gates
You need to buy and install safety gates before your baby starts to crawl, so fitting them from when your baby is around six months old is a good idea. Baby safety gates are suitable for use until your child is 24 months old, depending on their how good they are at climbing.
Before you buy your baby safety gate, make sure you measure the different doorways or openings in your house you’ll be using them on, so that you can check your chosen safety gates will fit properly.
Make sure you’re familiar with exactly how the safety gates work before you need them, and get used to them being there.
Choose from different types of baby safety gates
Safety gates come in several designs and can be made from metal or wood, with vertical rails that allow you to see through them, or heavy-duty nylon that will prevent your baby from poking anything through. Whichever style of baby safety gate you choose, make sure it conforms to standard BS EN 1930:2000.
Wall-mounted baby safety gates: Fixed, wall-mounted safety gates screw into the wall and are semi-permanent, staying in the same place until you no longer need them. Their width is adjustable, they’re usually very sturdy and they have locking mechanisms beyond the control of most toddlers.
Some have a ‘push to close’ lock whilst others have automatic closure for added peace of mind. Most wall-mounted safety gates now have a single-handed operation, which is essential if you’re carrying your baby in your other arm.
Some can be fitted to open to the left or right. Most importantly, they don’t have a bottom rail and so are perfect for the top of the stairs.
Pressure-fit baby safety gates: Pressure-fit safety gates sit within fixed u-shaped frames, which are held in place by pressure at four points. If the pressure is insufficient, you can add wall cups to make the gates fit more securely. Pressure-fit baby safety gates can often be adjusted to fit different widths of opening.
You can also buy extensions if your doorframe or stairway is wider than average. The U-shaped frame means there is a bottom rail, which can be a tripping hazard.
Mesh roller baby safety gates: For the design-conscious, a mesh roller gate, which works like a side-on roller blind is an expensive, but stylish option. It can be made to ‘disappear’ when not in use as it retracts just like a blind.
There’s no framework to trip over and it’s a good option for wider openings. You must remember to re-engage the gate once you’ve retracted it though.
Travel baby safety gates: These are made of lightweight mesh. They’re portable, so are ideal for holidays or visiting friends. Travel safety gates are also handy for blocking off rooms temporarily. They don’t sit in a fixed frame so are more of a barrier than a gate - you have to remove and re-fix them each time you pass through.
A travel safety gate shouldn’t be relied on as a permanent barrier to an inquisitive baby or toddler.
Decide where to fit baby safety gates
Baby safety gates for the stairs: The most important place to fit a baby gate is at the top and bottom of your stairs, to prevent your child from falling. It’s advisable to fit a fixed, wall-mounted safety gate to the top of your staircase so that it can withstand the pressure of being fallen against. Wall-mounted safety gates don’t have a bottom rail, so you’re less likely to trip over them.
Baby safety gates for the kitchen/utility room: There are plenty of dangers if a crawling or toddling baby is allowed to wander into the kitchen or utility room unsupervised.
Dangers include everything from hot appliances and dangling electrical cords, to glass and chinaware. There’s also a risk from chemical cleaners and medicines. A baby safety gate means your child can’t enter the kitchen or utility room without you being there.
Baby safety gates for the nursery: Once your baby is more mobile and transfers from a cot to a bed, they might decide to wander out of their bedroom at night. A safety gate across their bedroom doorway will help prevent this. Most importantly, it’ll stop them getting into the bathroom, another danger zone when a child is unsupervised.
Keep a safety gate across the nursery door when your baby becomes a toddler. It’ll encourage them to stay in bed as they’ll realise they can’t leave the room and get into your bedroom.
Baby safety gates for the bathroom: If you’d rather not put a safety gate across your child’s bedroom door, it’s a good idea instead, to fit a gate to the bathroom doorway at night. Even if you lock away all the dangerous chemicals and toiletries, your child could still turn on a hot tap or investigate the toilet bowl.
Read our guide on how to baby and child proof your home for more ideas on making your home safe when your baby is on the move.
Fit and maintain your baby safety gate
With a wall-mounted safety gate, make sure you read the mounting instructions fully before you fit it. Make regular checks that everything is tightly secured and no damage has occurred. Check a pressure-fit safety gate daily and look for any signs of damage to ensure you maintain the gate’s effectiveness and safety.