Find the right child safety gates for your home
Child safety gates - also known as stair gates or baby gates - are designed to prevent your inquisitive and increasingly mobile little one from venturing where they shouldn't while allowing them to play and gain confidence in a secure space.
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 kitchen from toddlers who love to explore.
Keeping your child or toddler out of the rooms they shouldn't be in, and in the ones they should, is a key part of any child proofing process. Knowing that your bathroom or flight of stairs are off limits to a wandering child helps boost your peace of mind and keep your children safe.
When to install 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 around 24 months old, although you might find that you still need to use them for older toddlers too, depending on how prone they are to climbing.
As with any new addition to the home, carefully measure where the baby gates or stair gates are going before you buy your preferred model. Whether in a kitchen doorway or at the top of the stairs, ensure that the gate will cover the entire of the opening.
Make sure you're familiar with exactly how the safety gates work before installing them, and try to get used to them being in place so you can avoid the gates when moving around the room.
Choosing safety gates
Safety gates come in several designs and can be made from plastic, metal or wood. They usually have vertical rails so can easily see through them, or heavy-duty nylon fabric that will prevent your baby from poking through. Whichever style of baby safety gate you choose, make sure it conforms to standard BS EN 1930:2011, a British Standards Institution health and safety regulation, which should be visible on the packaging.
Wall mounted safety gates
Wall-mounted baby safety gates that are screwed into to the wall and are semi-permanent, stay in the same place until you no longer need them. Their width is adjustable, and they’re usually very sturdy as 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 use as child stair safety gates.
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 door frame 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 available for a slightly more expensive price, but is the most 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. Just remember to re-engage the gate when it needs to be in use.
Travel baby safety gates
These are made of lightweight mesh. They're portable, making them ideal for holidays or visiting friends. Travel safety gates and travel stair 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, but can offer a temporary solution when required, at an affordable price.
Where to fit safety gates
The main differentiating feature for safety gates, and the key thing to keep in mind when choosing the right one, is the space it will block. The best safety gates for a kitchen or utility room will no doubt have differences to the best safety gate for the stairs. So it is always good to keep in mind where the gates are going to go before you purchase.
The most important place to fit a baby gate is at the top and bottom of your stairs. 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. Even if your household only has a few steps, it is advisable to get a stair gate as even a small tumble can be dangerous for an inquisitive toddler.
Safety gates for the kitchen
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.
Nursery safety gates
Most safety child gates are to keep your little one away from rooms they shouldn't enter, but nursery gates are to keep them in. 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.
It is best to install 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.
Bathroom safety gates
Similarly to kitchens - bathrooms are filled with things that you don't want your little one getting their hands on. From medicines and bath products, to cleaning products, there are a wealth of colourful labels that are sure to attract a child. With this in mind a safety gate for a bathroom is a wise investment.
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.
Read our guide on how to baby and child proof your home for more ideas on making your home safe when your little explorers are on the move.