Even before your infant becomes completely mobile, you need to take extra precautions to keep her safe around the house. Part of this baby-proofing process involves installing safety gates or implementing safety fences. It is vital for you to choose the right equipment for the job and to use it properly.
Baby safety gates and fences are designed for young children 6 months to 2 years old. When your child masters the art of opening a safety gate or has decided that it is a climbing wall, it’s time to take the gate down. At that point, the gate no longer does its job and can actually be a safety hazard.
You need the right size to get the job done properly. According to Consumer Reports, the gate or fence you choose should be at least 22 inches high and at least three-quarters the height of your child. Taller gates are better for taller toddlers. The slats on the gate or fence should be no wider than 3 inches apart to ensure that your little one’s feet and hands don’t slip through.
Strategically placed safety gates and fences can increase your home’s safety for your little one. The gate that you put at the top of the stairs needs to be hardware-mounted into the wall and positioned so it swings towards the landing, not over the stairs. The pressure-mounted gates work well between rooms and at the bottom of the stairs. However, they’re not safe enough at the top of the stairs because they may not be strong enough to stay in position when an infant or toddler leans on it. You can interlock and place safety fence sections in a room to contain an infant or toddler to one area. You can also position them around fireplaces to keep children away from those areas.
There are some other factors to consider before making your final decision. If the gate or fence is made of wood, examine it to make sure it is smooth, splinter-free and has rounded edges. Always look for a label from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association to indicate that the gate meets safety standards. Checking with the manufacturer’s website for recalls is always a good idea, too. Stay away from accordion-style gates, especially the older models, as these may pose a safety hazard. The diamond-shaped spaces and V-shaped openings at the top are the trouble areas. If you do decide to use one of these, make sure it is new and has a horizontal rail or filler bar across the top of the gate or fence.