UPDATED December 11, 2021 This piece has been updated to reflect the emergence of new technology
Christian Mathews Security Writer
If you have children or pets in your home, you will want to make the house fit for their use. With that, safety should be your number one priority. If you are expecting, this is the perfect time to start looking for the best toddler gate for stairs, because this happens to cause a lot of accidents. This forms just a part of the larger understanding of how to babyproof your house.
The kind of gate you pick depends on your specialized needs. Your kids or pet could be very young and might not need a lot of equipment to stop them from going down the stairs, or they could be gatecrashers that need special reinforcements.
Height Of Gate
The safety standard for baby gates says that your gate should at least be 22 inches in height. It helps keep your baby from climbing over the gate if they are especially crafty. You need to take a call, depending on the height of your toddler.
The fence should be at least the height of your child. By the time they are two or three years old, it’s safe for you to remove toddler gates. By that time, you have to make sure that the gate you are buying is not easily climbable, or even has too much gap for your baby to escape through the date.
So, make sure the slots of the gate are less than three inches apart. At this gap, you can rest easy because your child’s arms or legs won’t be stuck in between. You can go through the manufacturer manual and note the slat distance.
Just because the blocker is tall enough won’t be able to dissuade your toddler from escaping, they will try to ram their way through the gate, which is why you need good construction and solid build.
If you are picking wood, the material should not only be strong but also should be smooth and free of splinters. They should have rounded slats instead of square ones.
They would be much stronger than wood. But be cautious because some of the metal gates have a floor bar to give it reinforcement for the extra weight, and you can fall over if you are not handling it carefully.
Before you set your heart on a gate, it’s good advice to look for a label from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which is in charge of certifying the safety standards of baby products. Only buy from reputed manufacturers with a JPMA seal to ensure the safety of your child.
Material Of Gate
Most common, and you will find these everywhere. They are cheap and easily available. They can be strong enough to hold a 3-year-old, but keep a few things in mind, such as the toxicity and chemical effects of the plastic. If you are buying, make sure that your plastic is PVC-free, so it is safe for kids.
Metal gates can be heavy and provide great security if you have a particularly crafty toddler who is good at climbing gates and running away. Just make sure to look for the floor bar and locking mechanism to ensure it’s a safe fit.
These are great if the construction is done right. However, they are hard to find. They should have a smooth finishing and rounded slats and build to keep splinters from forming.
Gates are locked in two ways.
- Hardware mounted
If you need extra strength reinforcement, then the hardware mount is good. They screw to the inside of the walls of your home, so they will be able to keep your child from falling from the top of a stairway or high places.
- Pressure mounted
If you want to be able to gate areas to limit the movements of your toddler flexibly, then these gates are great. Press the gate mechanics to the opposing walls, sides of a door, or entry of stairways to lock it in. But remember, these gates are not strong or safe enough for the top of stairs, so don’t install them even if you hate the idea of drilling holes into your walls.
Additionally, Accordion style gates are risky and prone to accidents if they are not coming with a top filler bar. Also, avoid gates that have horizontal slats because your kid is just going to use them as a ladder.
Ease Of Use
The toddler gate for stairs should be not only able to lock your child in, but also be flexible enough not to hinder your movement. It is a pain to take 5 minutes to unlock the gate every time you want to go downstairs or to another room.
So, look for dual action latches that you can push down on to release the gate. It’s easy, can be done with one hand, and is not easy for your toddler to open. One problem with this type of latch is they can be difficult to handle, so do try it out in the store before buying.
Pressure release handles or foot pedals are also quite easy to open the gates. Some gates have signals for when it is latched. If you are extra cautious about safety, this will ease your mind. Some gates even come with an alarm system when opening them. Adults can deactivate the alarm, but toddlers cannot.
If you have a home with pets, then this might be trickier than just a normal baby gate. After all, they can be a much better climber than your children, and some pets love to break boundaries. You might want to consider buying a gate that is much taller than your pet can reach standing up. Also, look for a toddler gate for stairs that can be extended if your little jailbreaker is not remaining behind bars. Also, consider the weight of the gates carefully. Smaller pets can be restricted with plastic or wooden gates. However, the heavier ones need solid steel or other metal materials.