Type of Gates:
There are three basic types of gates: Pressure (or tension-mounted), Installed (hard-ware mounted), and Free-standing (more like big playpens). Which type you need is an important decision that needs some research.
We often have baby gates in stock (there are 5 in the store as I write this) and new parents can be overwhelmed with the choices. Some things to keep in mind when choosing a gate are:
1. Where will it be used (doorways, bottom of stairs, top of stairs, etc)?
2. Who is it intended to block (baby, toddler, dog)?
3. How often does it need to be opened?
Knowing the answers to those three questions will make the selection of the right type of gate much easier.
Intended placement is critical to know before you start shopping. Pressure gates can't be used at the top of stairs under any conditions and normally aren't approved for bottom of stairs either. Most standard gates expand from 25"-42" so if you have an extra-wide space, be prepared to spend a quite a bit more.
Knowing who you are blocking is also important. If large dogs are in the household keep them in mind even if your child is just crawling. Jumping-prone dogs may give it a try and not only is that a bad example for your child, but a jumping dog will likely dislodge a pressure gate. Be sure the gate has narrow slats (like the Kidco & Evenflo gates) less than 2 3/8" apart or a mesh like the SuperYard that children can't get a foot hold on. The gate should be at least 3/4th the height of your child.
For closing off an unused area of the house a simple pressure gate may be fine, but for high-traffic areas, you'll be happier investing in a one-hand or foot operated swing gate.
Matching the Where, Who, & How to Your New Gate
These are a great and often economical way to block doorways standard hall ways and standard sized gates (26-29" tall) are still low enough that mom and dad can step over it as needed. Not recommended for climbing-prone toddlers or if you have dogs that’ll likely jump it. Most importantly never use a pressure gate around stairs (top or bottom). If not installed tightly enough or if your child has enough weight behind him/her, pressure gates can become dislodged.
The benefit of pressure gates is that they can be easily removed and put away when not needed and don’t leave holes that need to be repaired. Be careful of the wood pressure gates with the bar, though, as if they are not installed properly, they can damage the doorway with repeated opening and closing (learned from personal experience!).
Pressure gates that are extra tall (up to 41") are needed if you have a toddler prone to climbing or dogs that may jump a shorter gate. The disadvantage is that adults will often not be able to step over it, either, so it’ll have to be opened and closed more often, so consider a swing-pressure mounted gate if its for a high-traffic area. Again, do not use any pressure gate around stairs.
Be sure to install the gate with the bar or latching mechanism away from the child. Even if they can't disengage it, they may be able to use that area as a foot hold for climbing.
Hard-Ware Mounted Gates:
Though these will leave marks on the walls, they are more easily repaired than children and are the only recommended option for use around stairs. Most, though not all, will have a swinging or retracting function, making them also well suited for high-trafficked areas. However, be sure to read the manual as not all swinging gates can be used at the top of stairs.
Be sure to avoid diamond-shaped accordian style gates. They have been discontinued due to safety reason as a child's head may be able to be caught in the openings. The large openings also provide footholds for climbing.
Free-Standing Play Yards:
Kidco and SuperYard both make popular play yards ideal for keeping your child safely confined. The Superyard is ideal also for use indoors or out and is easily transported. The G80 Configure Gate by Kidco is a bit to heavy for casual moving around and is better used as a permanant solution. The G80 is also able to be used for extremely wide openings (even up to 8 feet) and can be mounted. It includes a built in swinging door.
The Play Yards can also be used to keep such things as Christmas trees out of reach as well!
Important Points for Buying Second Hand:
Manuals are often not included, but may be available on-line for free from the manufacturer’s website. Its a great idea to down-load it and read it. Be sure to know the shop's return policy in case it's under recall or doesn't fit the space you need.
At Enkore Kids, we check for recalls on most items and offer a 7-Day Return Privilege (14 days for on-line purchases) to make sure you'll be satisfied. Our gates come and go very quicky. If you're looking for a particular style, be sure to put it on your wish list. We'll call you when it comes in. Just remember all wish list items are first come, first served, though we're happy to hold items for reasonable travel time.
This article is just one in a series that Enkore Kids provides as a service to our customers. I hope you have found this article helpful and suggestions for improvement are welcome.
-Jennifer Guenther, Enkore Kids, CEO/Mommy