Editor’s Note: Thanks goes to Michele Spahr, the founder of Safe Start Baby, for this helpful guest post on choosing the right baby gates and installing them properly. In addition to her informative (and sometimes just plain hilarious) blog, you can find Michele on twitter @TheSafetyFreak.
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Never underestimate your busy crawling baby. One minute he may be completely content to sit at the bottom of the stairs, playing with blocks, oblivious to the heights surrounding him. But one thing babies have on us adults is that they look up, they see the world from a unique vantage point – and once they spy new heights to climb, they intend to conquer them.
So that’s where baby gates begin – at the bottom of your stairs. But that’s not where they end. The top of your stairs must be gated as well. And it’s important to block off at least one designated, babyproofed area with baby gates.
If there are stairs in your home, you have one option at the top and bottom: hardware-mounted baby gates. This means the gates are drilled into the wall or banisters themselves. Or better yet, mount the gate into a hole-free mounting kit and avoid drilling into your banister completely!
Hardware-mounted baby gates
You may be groaning at the thought of making holes in your walls, but avoid the temptation of installing a pressure-mounted gate at the top of the stairs. These gates can easily come loose and both gate and baby could go tumbling.
Depending on the layout of your home, pressure-mounted baby gates work in most doorways. They also satisfy the parent who isn’t keen on dragging out the drill or screwdriver. The KidCo Premiere Center Gateway installs quickly without tools or hardware and without damaging walls or woodwork. Keep in mind that with pressure-mounted gates there is a stationary frame that remains firmly installed while the door swings open – so you will have to step over the bottom of the gate. All accident-prone parents, take note.
Pressure-mounted baby gates
Today’s baby gates are made from a variety of materials, including white metal, wood, and black metal. There are even retractable child proof gate options and some gates that are designed with extra-special flair so they look like they’re part of your décor rather than an eyesore (more on childproofing for modern décor). For extra-wide doorways, corners, or large areas, gate extensions can be attached to your baby gate so that the desired territory is cordoned off.
The look, the feel, the shape
Installing baby gates can be complicated and time-consuming, but installation is the most important part of baby gates if they’re to actually do their job. You want the gates to be put in place correctly and safely so there is no chance of injury to anyone in your family. Safety installation kits can help you attach gates in and around tricky surfaces, including wrought iron and hollow walls. There are also a variety of gate mounts that can help simplify the process.
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Michele Spahr, AKA The Safety Freak, is founder of Safe Start Baby, a Washington D.C. area-based babyproofing and child safety company dedicated to helping parents and caregivers reduce unintentional injuries in the home. She is also founder of DC’s Safe Start Eco-Baby, a consulting company leading families to a healthier, safer and more sustainable lifestyle.
Michele is a member of the National Safety Council, a member, authorized trainer and contributor for the International Association for Child Safety, an authorized provider for the American Red Cross, and a Green-Irene Eco-Consultant.
Even more importantly Michele is mom to four energetic children who challenge her every day with their inventive ways of finding all possible safety hazards. Find out more about Michele on her blog (http://blog.safestartbaby.com/) and by following her on twitter @TheSafetyFreak .