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Safety gates help prevent a fall down the stairs, as well as access to “off-limits” rooms such as home offices or adult exercise areas. You can use them to differentiate adult from toddler areas, offering a safe play space for your baby while protecting your valuables, too. Safety gates range in size from widths of approximately 25 inches to as wide as 30 feet, and average 30 inches in height. It's wise to install safety gates before your child becomes mobile. This helps prevent injuries and will also give you time to become accustomed to using them regularly.


Carefully examine the areas for which you need safety gates to select the safest and most appropriate type for each location. The gate you need may be determined by its location rather than how you want it to operate or look.

All safety gates are designed to be mounted between two solid wood surfaces such as a wood framed doorway. (See our Gate Mounting Kit, #2610 which helps solve mounting issues in other areas.) Once gates are installed they should always remain closed since an open gate is a safety hazard for both toddlers and adults. Consider installing gates in areas such as front foyers or hallways rather than on staircases as they may be easier to install and may be more visually appealing, too.

Pressure-Mounted Gates

Pressure-mounted gates are easier to install than those that attach with hardware since they don't require tools and carpentry skills. They expand to fit a desired opening and secure with tension. Pressure gates tend to be inconvenient, since most must be removed and replaced each time you enter and leave rooms. Also, since many parents climb over pressure gates, there’s the chance of injury to adults as well as to tots who try to copy them. Pressure gates are available to fit openings from about 28-60 inches, and are best suited for doorways separating two rooms that are on the same level.

Basic guidelines for the use of pressure gates: Never us them at the top of stairs, as there is always the danger of your child's weight pushing them over. If you do use them between rooms, mount them with the locking bar facing away from your child, and make sure they fit snugly within openings to resist the strength of your child. Select a gate that has been designed for use with children and not puppies. Beware of gates with square openings as they may be easy for some children to climb.

Hardware-Mounted Gates

Hardware-mounted gates attach with screws to walls and banisters. These gates usually open and close much like a door. This makes them more convenient for areas you'll be walking through regularly. They can be mounted between two walls, two banisters or a banister and a wall.

As with all safety equipment, gates should be checked frequently for secure fittings, mounts, latching devices and effective operation. Available in wood or metal, hardware-mounted gates differ with respect to size, shape and overall design and fit openings from approximately 25 to 67 inches. Most have vertical slats to make them difficult for toddlers to climb. Although the latching mechanisms vary, most are designed for easy adult operation.

Hardware-mounted gates are designed to be installed into a solid wood surface. If your doorway or opening is already framed in wood you can install the gate without any preparation. If this is not the case, you’ll have to first install a Gate Mounting Kit (with screws or wall anchors if no stud is available) on each side of the opening. If you are attaching the gate to a stairway post that is not square from top to bottom you may also need to install a Gate Mounting Kit.

Hardware-Mounted Walk-Through Gates

Hardware-mounted walk-through gates attach with screws to walls and banisters in the same fashion as hardware-mounted gates. With a walk-through gate, however, only a portion of the gate or “door” swings open and closed instead of the entire gate. This style of gate is ideal for small areas and even wide areas where an extra-long gate is needed and swinging the entire gate would be inconvenient or impossible. Walk-through gates come in many shapes and may even extend up to 20 feet or more. Some must be mounted in a straight line while others may be configured around corners or irregular shapes to fit almost any space you need. Favored for their flexibility and design, most walk-through gates feature one-hand latching for adult convenience. Since all walk-through gates have a bottom threshold, it’s especially important that they be closed after entering or exiting and that they not be installed on staircases whenever possible.

Pressure-Mounted Walk-Through Gates

Pressure-mounted walk-through gates operate the same way as hardware-mounted walk-through gates. Since they secure with tension, pressure-mounted walk-through gates should not be used on stairways but are a good choice for doorways separating rooms that are on the same level in your home. They are available to fit openings from 28 to 45 inches wide.


·         DO select a safety gate which is JPMA or ASTM approved. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for mounting the gate, and be sure the gate is secure when installed.

·         DO test the locking mechanism to make sure it works properly every time you use it.

·         DO get in the habit of closing gates all the time, even if your baby is sleeping safely in his crib. This will help prevent you from forgetting to close the gate when your baby is nearby.

·         DO use a mounting kit, unless you are mounting the gate to a wooden door frame or other flat wood surface.

·         DO install safety gates early–before your child is mobile.

·         DO take into consideration the total length of time (and number of children) for which gates will be needed. Select a gate which will best withstand time and constant use. 

·         DO follow manufacturer's instructions concerning when to remove safety gates. (Most recommend that gates be removed at age 2 to 2 1/2 or when a child is tall enough to climb over them.)

·         DO be careful and remember to always close all gates, especially walk-through gates as the threshold could be tripped over.

·         DON'T use a pressure-mounted gate at the top of the stairs.

·         DON'T use older style, hand-me-down safety gates.

·         DON'T climb over gates. This provides children with behavior to imitate.

·         DON'T use pet gates which usually have a square mesh opening that are easy for tots to climb.

  • DON'T leave your child unattended, or rely on safety gates to keep your child safe.  

The information given and the products referred to can reduce the likeliness of injury and are intended to help you provide a safer environment for your child. The effectiveness of suggested products depends on proper installation and use. There is no replacement for adult supervision.


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