Consumer Guides > Child safety gates

Child safety gates

Content kindly supplied by

Safety gates and barriers are supposed to keep kids out of harm's way, but some aren't up to scratch.

Here's what to consider if you're buying a child safety gate or barrier.

Your child's age
Most safety gates and barriers are intended for children up to two years old. Older children might be able to climb over them or even knock them down, so if you have older children you can't expect a gate or barrier to keep them safe.

Barriers don't open, so you'll either have to remove them or step over them every time you want to get past. Gates are safer and more convenient when you're coming and going. However, if you have older children you need to consider whether you can rely on them to always close the gate.

Make sure the barrier or gate you buy fits the space you want to block off. They all come with recommended dimensions. Some manufacturers make extension bars if you're blocking off a wider opening than their gate or barrier fits.

Check the manufacturer's recommendations. If you want to block off a staircase, install the gate right at the top or at the bottom, on the first step, so your child can't use a step as a vantage point to climb over or onto the gate.

Pressure-mounted gates and barriers are held in place by friction. Some have spring-loaded bars to hold them in place. Others use spindles that are wound out until they're tight against the wall. Some manufacturers supply plastic cups that can be screwed or stuck to the wall or doorway to hold the spindles in position. These make the gates much more secure.

Some barriers are screwed into position, but a removable barrier is much more convenient than one that's permanently fixed.

Opening and closing
Gates that can be opened with one hand or a foot pedal are convenient. Some gates are self-closing - but if you've got a self-closing gate, make sure it latches properly.

Footholds and height
Could an agile toddler climb over the gate? The standard says a safety barrier should be at least 65cm high.

There should be no horizontal bars or mesh to provide footholds. Check also that the latch can't be used as a foothold.

This buying checklist is brought to you by Last reviewed July 31 2007.

For the full report on Child safety gates, visit .