Deciding which baby gate to buy can be a daunting task. With so many baby gates and so much choice out there, it can quickly become a headache.
A baby gate is an essential purchase, so naturally you’ll be concerned about baby gate safety and which baby gate will be the best for you and your baby.
This baby gate guide takes you through some of the basics of baby gate safety as well as going through all the different types of baby gates available on the market, and will hopefully remove any confusion and headaches you may have over which baby gate is best for you, your baby and your home.
At the end of it, you’ll have a better idea of which baby gate is the best baby gate for you and your home.
I’ve got a handy list of contents right below – just click on the section you want and you’ll be taken to that section on the page.
Table of Contents
What Is A Baby Gate Used For?
A baby gate is basically used to segregate your home, and stop your baby or toddler from accessing areas of your house that you don’t want him or her to access. It’s a safety feature to help keep your baby or toddler safe.
Typically, a baby gate will be installed in the following locations:
- At the top of stairs.
- At the bottom of stairs.
- In doorways that lead to areas that are not suitable for a roaming baby (like kitchens for example).
- In the doorway of their bedroom.
Depending on the layout of your house, you may have additional areas where you want to install a baby gate.
When Should I Buy A Baby Gate?
You won’t need to consider using a baby gate until your baby is at least crawling.
But do plan ahead. It’s a good idea to have it in place well before this happens.
You’ve got a number of months where your baby won’t be mobile at all, but as soon as they start rolling and crawling, you’ll need a baby gate to stop them accessing areas of your home that is not safe or suitable for them to access.
So start planning now. This includes measuring doorways and wall space, and deciding which baby gate will be appropriate for your home.
Types Of Baby Gate Available
There are many types of baby gate available, in all different shapes, sizes, colours and materials.
The main types of baby gates available are:
- Screw in baby gates – these fix permanently to a wall, doorway or staircase, and holes will need be drilled ready for it to be screwed in.
- Pressure baby gates – no drilling or screws necessary as these use tension and pressure to secure the gate to the wall, doorway or staircase.
- Freestanding baby gates. These stand upright without the need to be attached to anything.
- Wooden baby gates made from wood.
- Plastic baby gates made of plastic.
- Metal baby gates made of metal.
- Modular baby gates where extra parts can be added or subtracted to give extra width.
The type of baby gate you buy will be dependant on your home, layout and positioning of walls and doorways.
Will Any Baby Gate Fit?
Wherever you intend to install a baby gate, you’ll need to measure the width of the opening and then buy a baby gate that falls within those dimensions.
Some baby gates are modular, meaning that you can buy extra modules that will increase the total width of the gate, but for the most part, you’ll need to buy one baby gate that is within the dimensions of the space you want to install it.
Baby Gate Safety Features
The biggest baby gate safety feature is the locking mechanism that allows mum and dad to open and close the gate, whilst not allowing the baby or toddler to operate it.
Most baby gates have a very simple mechanism, that isn’t too dissimiliar to the safety tops found on medicine bottles and certain household products, where it requires pressure on two points at the same time as a directional pull or push to unlock it.
Most of these locking mechanisms are one handed operation – meaning you can have baby in one arm whilst unlocking the gate with your other arm.
Some gates also have an additional safety feature – even when the lock is in the unlocked position, it still requires a directional pull on the actual gate (usually upwards) to unclip the gate from its holder or pin before allowing the gate to open.
So there’s a nice combination of easy access for an adult, but also being too hard for a child to operate.
What Else Can I Use Baby Gates For?
A lot of people also use baby gates for pets.
In particular, keeping dogs seperated in one part of the house.
A baby gate can also be used for this purpose, and can be especially useful if you want to keep your dog and baby seperate, in different parts of the house.
Which Baby Gate?
When looking deciding on which baby gate to buy, you’ll want the baby gate with the most safety features that is suitable for use in your home.
But for most people, any confusion and dilemma usually surrounds the type of fixing method the baby gates come with:
Screw in, pressure mounted or free standing?
Below, I’ll compare the three main types of baby gate by fitting method; screw in, pressure or free standing.
Screw In Baby Gates Pros & Cons
A baby gate that is screwed into a wall, doorway or staircase is the strongest and most durable fixing method out of all three.
By its very nature, something that is properly screwed into something is going to be exponentially more safer than something that is not.
When your baby starts to walk and climb, the biggest thing for baby gate safety is the fact that your little one WILL stand on the bottom of the gate and hold onto the top. They’ll pull it, they’ll push it, they will lean on it and generally do everything you don’t want them to do.
So you’ll want the most secure fitting, and as long as it is properly screwed into a wall, then this is the safest method.
But the safest method also comes with the biggest headaches.
You’ll need a drill and rawl plugs, and you’ll need to drill into door frames, walls and skirting boards to install these types of baby gates.
What you’ll then find, as your child goes through various stages, you’ll want to move the location of the baby gate. For us, we had the gates installed first on our childs room and the bottom of the stairs. We then removed these as he got older, and placed one at the top of the stairs.
All of this required additional drilling, and then patching up the holes, sanding them down and then touching them up with paint. (Wallpapered walls will simply leave holes, unless you really want to re-wallpaper or somehow pacth it up.)
Here’s a quick recap of the pros of a screw in baby gate.
- Safest method.
- Securely drilled into a wall, door frame and/or skirting boards.
- Robust and not prone to becoming detached or loose.
Here’s a quick recap of the cons of a screw in baby gate.
- You’ll need a drill to drill holes for the screws.
- Non flexibe – these types of baby gates can’t be moved in a hurry.
- Could be hard to install in some places (eg. banisters/spindles on stairs that are thin).
- Will leave some patchwork decoration doing when removed.
Pressure Baby Gates Pros & Cons
A baby gate that uses a pressure (or tension) fitting or mount is still a very strong and durable fixing method.
They are extremely easy to fit as well – so easy in fact, that it’s the reason why most people go for this type of gate.
It works by using the supplied spanner and turning a bolt which in turn moves the pressure pads towards a wall, frame or skirting board, as you can see in the image below.
These no screw baby gates are very very easy to install, and requires no additonal tools to install or remove.
However, it is essential that all four corners of the mount are securely fastened and tight against your wall or door frame, otherwise there is a risk of it moving when you are opening or closing the gate. There’s also a greater risk of it falling when your toddler decides to stand on it by holding onto the top and instering their feet in between the bars.
And yes, they will do this!
The other nice thing about these no screw baby gates is that they are totally flexible – takes just a couple of minutes to remove and reinstall somewhere else if necessary.
The down side is that the pressure mounts will leave marks/rub off paint of wherever they are mounted. Our pressure pads were grey, and the grey from the pads actually rubbed off against the walls and even made some of our plaster disintegrate – so on removal, it will require some remedial repairs and touch up work (especially if it has been in situ for a long time).
Here’s a quick recap of the pros of a pressure mounted baby gate.
- Easy and quick installation (no drilling/no additional tools required apart from supplied spanner).
- Easy and quickly removed (no additional tools required apart from supplied spanner).
- Robust and not prone to becoming detached or loose as long as the mounts are securely tightened.
- Easy to install against a variety of surfaces including tiles.
Here’s a quick recap of the cons of a pressure mounted baby gate.
- Can work loose after a while (needs checking periodically).
- Needs to be tight and secure on installation.
- Will leave some light patchwork decoration doing when removed.
Free Standing Baby Gates Pros & Cons
Lets get one thing straight – a free standing baby gate is not really a gate – it’s a barrier.
These types of gates are better suited to pets, and not for children.
However, they still do have some small merits, but really should only be used as a segregation tool rather than a baby safety gate, because the safety features of these gates can easily be bypassed by a resourceful child.
Free standing gates come in two main designs; one long straight gate, or a modular type unit where additional gates can be purchased and can be configured in any shape or size you want.
When deciding which baby gate to buy, do remember that these free standing gates can be pushed and pulled out of position, and they are also prone to falling over – especially if your toddler decides to try and climb on it.
Here’s a quick recap of the pros of a free standing baby gate.
- Easy and quick installation (no tools required).
- Flexible and able to change location quickly.
- Can be used anywhere.
- Better used as a segregation tool than a full on baby gate.
Here’s a quick recap of the cons of a free standing baby gate.
- Danger of the gates toppling over.
- Can’t be used on stairs.
- Will leave some light patchwork decoration doing when removed.
Wall Repairs When Baby Gate Is Gone
It’s a huge milestone in your childs life when you finally come to the decision that a baby gate can be removed.
It will also leave you with a small headache once you remove your baby gate, and it doesn’t matter which baby gate you had – a pressure mounted gate or screw in gate will leave you with some repairs and decoratative touch ups to do.
Some small repairs will need to be done to the walls, door frames and skirting board.
You’ll need some pollyfilla, sandpaper and paint (hopefully you have some of the original paint left in your garage or shed). If you had wallpaper, then you’ll have to patch it up the best you can – I know some people who have filled the whole with a filler, then used a coloured marker to blend it in with the wallpaper colour!
If you had pressure mounted baby gates, you’ll find that at each pressure point, the paint has rubbed off the wall and skirting board, and probably even left marks of the same colour of the pressure points. For these gates, you’ll get away with touching up the paint work – as long as you didn’t over pressure the mounts and its damaged the plaster or wllpaper.
However, this little bit of work is a small price to pay – this piece of safety equipment has just spent that last couple of years helping to prevent your baby or toddler accessing dangerous areas of your home – or even from tumbling down the stairs.
Wood, Metal Or Plastic Gates?
This really is down to personal preference, and how much you want your baby gates to fit in with the aesthetics of your home.
Wooden gates are obviously heavier and more sturdy, whilst metal gates are usually slightly lighter whilst retianing the strudiness. Plastic baby gates are extremely light, but not as sturdy as wood or metal.
Again, personal preference plays a big part here, and the material that your baby gate is made of will not affect the safety or performance of the gate too much.
Which Baby Gate – Our Recommendation
For safety, my top choice would be a screw in baby gate, which will offer the best safety for your baby and toddler. These can be a pain to fit and require some DIY tools and knowledge, but offer the most secure fit.
I recommend a pressure mounted baby gate if you require easy installation. As long as these are fitted correctly, and pressured to their fixing points, these types of baby gates are nearly as secure as a screwed in one.
Avoid buying a free standing baby gate. These are great for segregation purposes (perhaps having a dog in one room, and a child in another room), but are not fail safe. They are not appropriate to place on stairs.
Questions & Comments
As usual, I welcome your questions, comments and feedback on the article.
What’s your experience with baby gates? Has this article helped you decide which baby gate to buy, if so what baby gate have you chosen?
Let me know in the comments below.
Stay Safe. Stay Secure.