Since becoming a mother and child care provider I’ve learned a lot about baby gates…and I’ve used a lot of them too.
If you’re reading this then you must be in the market for a new baby gate. Before you head to the store, though, have you thought about what it is you need from your baby gate? If you haven’t, or if you’re a new parent or grandparent just beginning the child proofing phase of life, then keep reading to discover six great questions to ask yourself before your first purchase, along with honest reviews of three gates I’ve used in my own home.
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1. What size gate do you need?
Before you begin shopping for a gate you need to measure first. Gates come in a large variety of sizes; I’ve seen them as small as 26″ all the way up to a whopping 192″. And don’t write off a favorite just because it doesn’t fit. Oftentimes extension pieces can be purchased separately. You should also decide now if you will need an extra tall gate. (Perhaps you child is half monkey like mine and loves to climb everything or maybe your baby gate is also being used to block a dog who could easily jump a regular gate.)
2. How big and strong is your child?
Is your child just crawling for now? If so (and if you don’t plan on placing it at the top of stairs), then a simple, inexpensive wooden gate will do the trick. However, once he begins walking and is able to exert some force, you’ll need to upgrade. Decide now if you want an easy, inexpensive and temporary option or if you want to go ahead and spend a little more money for something that will last throughout your need for a gate.
3. Where will this gate go?
Do you need a gate to block access to a room or hall? Then just about any gate you can find will do the trick. But if you need a gate to protect your child from falling down a flight of stairs don’t even think of using a $10 wooden gate from Wal-Mart. Instead, invest in something that can be mounted with hardware or at the very least securely mounted with pressure and special wall cups. Need a gate for outside? Invest in something that will withstand the elements.
4. Who and what will be going thru the gate?
For example, is someone who has bad arthritis in their hands going to be using this gate regularly? If so, then you need a gate that can be easily opened. Is someone who is exceptionally large going to be using it? Or will it be placed in an area where you will be carrying things like groceries or laundry through regularly? If this is the case then a swing function is a great option.
5. Does your gate need to be permanent or portable?
Are you planning on putting up a gate and not taking it down until your child is old enough to not need one? If this is the case you need a reliable gate that is securely mounted, probably with hardware. And I wouldn’t waste my time with wood or plastic, but with metal instead. However, if you’re in need of a gate that can be easily moved throughout your home as needed, then a pressure mounted gate will be right up your alley.
6. How much money are you willing to spend and are you able to shop around?
Gates typically range from $10 to about $60-$75. While the $10 gate isn’t going to get you much in the area of longevity, that doesn’t mean you have to spend top dollar on a good, reliable gate. I only paid $32 for my favorite baby gate, the Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru (which is about $20 less than what I paid for my absolute least favorite gate at Home Depot, the Summer Infant Indoor/Outdoor Walk Thru Gate).
Also, the exact same model of gate is going to range in price depending on where it’s being sold. If you have the time, consider shopping around first before buying. When I purchased the Summer Infant Indoor/Outdoor Multi-Function Walk-Thru Gate at Home Depot ($32) I did so without researching it first (big mistake) and then discovered that it was only about $25 on Amazon! And if you aren’t opposed to purchasing second-hand items, check out a local children’s consignment shop like Once Upon A Child (my absolute favorite). However, just because it’s used doesn’t mean that it will always be inexpensive or a good deal. I often find that big items like gates are priced so high that I would just rather spend the extra money to have a new gate. But who knows, maybe you’ll find a fabulous deal!
Some quick reviews…
Now that you’ve started thinking about what kind of gate you need, here are three options that I have used in my own home. I definitely recommend numbers 1 and 3 (depending on your needs), and I highly recommend everyone steer clear of number 2.
1. Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Gate (click here)
Score: 4.5/5 stars
Of the three I have used in my home this is my absolute favorite. Not only has it outlasted the other two gates, but I feel it is reliable enough to use at the top of our stairs.
- Easy assembly
- Easy to use for adults and older children
- Voted “Amazon’s Choice” among baby gates
- Not able to be pushed down or pushed open by kids
- Can be opened or closed with only one hand
- Pressure mounted so no permanent damage to walls
- Wall cups included for a more secure grip if using at top of stairs
- Extension pieces available if needed (additional price)
- Reasonable price – only $32.00
- Long lasting – this gate is made of metal
- Certified by the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association and American Society of Testing Materials
- The walk thru section is wide enough to walk through, but it can be difficult if you are carrying something, such as groceries, laundry basket, etc. This is especially true if this gate is at the top of the stairs
- This gate is too tall for an adult to step over
- If using as a pet gate a small pet could possibly fit through the openings between the spindles
2. Summer Infant Indoor/Outdoor Multi-Function Walk-Thru Gate (click here)
Score: 0/5 stars
I HATE this gate. Actually, hate doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel. It is ugly, cheap, and it broke within the first week of installing it. And to top it off, it scuffed up my wall and even chipped off some paint!
- Affordable price – only $25.42 on Amazon
- Can be mounted three ways: pressure mounted (no swing function), adhesive mount with swing function, and secured with hardware (typically for using at top of stairs)
- If using as a swing gate it provides a large walk-thru opening, which is nice
- Because this gate uses a panel, not spindles, a pet would not be able to walk through
- Easily broken – mine broke within a week of installing
- Made of plastic – this gate feels cheap and flimsy
- My 21 month old is able to push it open using the weight of his body (and he’s small for his age)
- The rubber stoppers that are suppose to help keep the gate closed come out VERY easily, and I mean VERY, VERY easily
- The swing gate appears easily adjustable but in reality it is not easily anything but broken!
- When using as a swing gate one side will open/close by pressing up against the wall. Because the rubber stoppers fall out so easily and leave the plastic edges open it can scuff your wall and remove paint
- Difficult to close because of the awkward handle (you press down the handle to latch it which increases the pressure on the wall)
- Just plain cumbersome to use – I DO NOT RECOMMEND AT ALL
3. Evenflo Lock and Position Wood Gate (click here)
Score: 3/5 stars
This gate is a great price and a great choice if you have a crawling infant you need to corral. However, if your child is a toddler or older, then this probably isn’t the gate for you.
- Inexpensive – only $10.38 on Amazon!
- Portable and lightweight – this gate is a great choice to take to Grandma’s, on vacation or even while visiting a non-baby proofed home
- Super simple to install and use – no tools required
- Great option as a pet gate (for small pets) since it does not utilize spindles
- Comes in a variety of colors, which is kinda fun
- Pressure mounted so no permanent damage to walls
- Only 23 inches tall so an adult could easily step over it without disturbing it
- Easy to pick up and use throughout your home wherever needed – between rooms, bottom of stairs, doorway, etc.
- Not able to be used at top of stairs
- The notched lever almost always bows when in use
- Not good for use with toddlers, older children or larger pets
- Flimsy wood – I’ve had two break on me
- Really limited to use with infants and small pets
In short, if you’re in the early stages of baby proofing and need something to block your crawling infant than this is the perfect choice for you. However, once that infant begins to walk and can demonstrate a little bit of strength, then it’s time to move on and invest in something more heavy duty.
Whichever gate you choose make sure it’s one you feel comfortable using and provides adequate safety for your child. Best of luck to you as you embark on your child proofing adventures!
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