As you’re setting up your nursery for your new arrival, consider some of the baby proofing items that should be in the home as well. One of the first items you want to have in place is baby gates. There are two kinds – pressure mounted and hardware mounted. I constantly hear the argument that hubby doesn’t want to drill holes into the wall so he’s going with a pressure mounted gate. While pressure mounted gates in certain situations are the way to go, at the top of the stairs it could be deadly. If a child pushes on the gate it could topple right over. And, you can ease your mind – the holes are no larger than the tip of a pencil and can be easily filled in with painter’s caulk. A top-of-stair gate is the most critical one that you will install. Here are a few things to look for:
• A gate that’s easy to use with one-handed operation
• A safety mechanism that prevents it from opening out over the stairs and will only allow it to open towards you
• One that will automatically lock when you shut it to reduce the change of “user error.”
While our clients at Safety Mom Solutions will usually attempt to do some baby proofing work on their own, they often times become frustrated when trying to install a gate. Unless you are installing it into two flat surfaces it can be difficult. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
• Determine whether you will want a wood or metal gate. There are many that come in a variety of finishes to match your décor.
• Measure the opening to be sure you purchase a gate that will fit. Check that the gate you select is specifically designed for staircases and/or banisters, that it is auto-locking and has a safety mechanism to prevent it from opening in both directions.
• If you do not have two flat surfaces you will also have to buy one or two mounting kits to create one. If you do have a flat wall, be sure that it’s not hollow (without a stud). If it is you will need a mounting kit on that side as well
• Make sure the gate is not installed more than 2” from the ground or your baby could crawl under it!
• Once the mounting kit and gate are installed apply pressure to it to check that it will withstand your baby pushing on it.
I recently did a segment with George Oliphant for LXTV’s Open House. Here’s a clip of me discussing a gate at the top of the stairs with him.
Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.