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baby gate

If you have a hearth that you actually use, a fireplace safety gate is essential for childproofing your home. While a hearth gate is pricey, typically ranging between $100 and $200, it’s a much more secure and versatile option than protective foam padding which is sometimes recommended.

Pads can be pulled off, and don’t provide a high enough obstacle for children anxious to touch a visually dazzling fire. Even worse than foam padding specifically designed for fireplaces are pool noodles that some parents try to tape down. Not only are these easily pulled off, but they usually come in bright, child-friendly colors that makes them even more seductive for meddling.

Unlike a baby gate, or other safety gate products made from lighter materials, fireplace safety gates are usually made out of non-toxic, heat resistant steel or iron, giving them a heft that makes them fairly difficult for small children and small pets to knock down. Fireplace gate dimensions vary from product to product, but typical measurements are 6′ wide, 2′ deep and 30″ high. A hearth gate should be tall enough to discourage children from climbing.

Unlike fireplace doors, most fireplace gates are portable enough to be used for wood burning stoves and outdoor grills as needed. The also have the advantage of protecting children from a fireplace’s sharp brick or stone textures and corners.

Some child safety gate products consist of three interlocking segments whose left and right segment angle inward. Higher-end models are made up more segments to accommodate wider fireplaces, with additional segments available for purchase. These gates often have a section with a walk-through gate with an adult release latch. It’s important to measure your fireplace and the clearance you’ll need before committing to a particular model, since the number of segments included by default may not be enough, and having to purchase extra segments might bump up your total cost by 30-50%.

While a determined child can knock down a baby fireplace gate, the gate’s heavy metal hitting the floor is excellent for alerting a parent that the fireplace is exposed. The thud of the falling gate will usually prompt the child to jump away from the fireplace rather than toward it, at least long enough for the parent to intervene.

No matter how diligent the parent, it’s impossible to keep an eye on a child every single moment. Without exception, every child at some point learns the hard way that fire and hot objects should not be touched. A parent’s task is to make the hard way less severe, and as unlikely as possible. Even a bad safety gate is safer than none.

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A baby stair gate is a critical childproofing accessory, one that you’ll want to install that the first signs that your child is becoming capable of walking. Stair gates are arguably more important during the initial stages of walking than when a baby can walk at full speed. In order to walk, babies have to learn how to balance themselves upright, which inevitably means they’ll fail more than they succeed at first, frequently falling backward. Falling on a level floor only hurts, but the consequences of falling anywhere near or on a flight of stairs can be disastrous. A baby safety gate is no minor precaution.

Baby Gates for Stairs

Baby gate products come in different designs with different mounting arrangements, so there’s always at least one model on the market that can work with your home’s stair configuration. With slight variations between products, baby gates stairs tend to be 30-34″ wide and 28-31″ tall. Gates for stairs are designed to use one of two primary fastening methods: pressure-fitted mounts and screw-fitted mounts.

While pressure mounted baby gates obviously require less assembly in terms of drilling, screwing or gluing, they’re prone to egress from babies or pets to butt against them over time, and they run the risk of eventually slipping out of place. For this reason, pressure-fitting stair gates should not be installed at the top of stairs.

Screw-fitted mounts are inherently more secure, and can also be used between doorways to close off access to rooms. But they’re more labor intensive to assemble, and less convenient to reposition if desired. Having the flexibility to reconsider the best placement of a stair gate is an important consideration. While screw fitting gates aren’t conducive to repositioning, most models have a quick-release fittings that allow the gate to be removed when not in use.

Baby gates for stairs aren’t just for stairs (not are they just for babies; they protect pets as well). They can often be used to block access to any area not suitable for children: a kitchen, an office desk with exposed cables, an entertainment center or a dining table. Sometimes your goal is not just to block off stairs, but to whole floors.

Just because a safety gate is a necessity doesn’t mean it has look utilitarian. Many safety gates are quite attractive. A wooden stair gate blends in nicely with most walls, and is usually available in a variety of common colors. While a metal stair gate is less attractive, it’s also far less prone to damage from children and pets.

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A retractable baby gate combines safety with convenience. Using a polyester mesh screen that pulls across the doorway on which it’s installed, retractable baby gates operate in a similar fashion to window shades, but laterally instead of vertically, and locking to a mount installed at the opposite end.

Since these baby gates pull across to a desired length, they’re capable of handling most doorway widths. There are wide and extra wide baby gate products available if your doorway is exceptionally wide. Typical retractable baby gates are designed to handle 42-72″ openings, and range between 30 and 34 inches in height, which should be more than sufficient to prevent toddlers from climbing over them. On the other hand, while the mesh screen is taut when stretched across a doorway, the material is still flexible, and in most cases should not be used at the top of stairs.

Some retractable baby safety gate products marketed as baby stair gates are newer or different designs, and may be suitable for their advertised purpose. Some “retractable” gates are actually older designs, like accordion gates, which use wood lattices to expand and contract. An accordion baby gate is not recommended, as it presents a danger to fingers and limbs when closing and opening. True retractable baby safety gates with mesh screens are often called rollers to distinguish them from other designs.

These rollers are compact alternatives to swinging baby gates, and are ideal for rooms with limited floor space, since they don’t arc outward from the doorway. When retracted, the rolled-up screen extends less than half a foot, so there’s no need to store it elsewhere when not in use.

Some retractable gates only rewind manually with a knob, which may not be an issue for many owners. In many cases, it’s not necessary to fully retract the screen when entering or exiting the room; it only needs to be briefly taken off the mount, then put back. Other models have automatic rewind mechanisms that retract the screen once the locking mechanism is released. This is idea for avoiding the trip hazards of an unmounted, unretracted screen that hangs limp across the doorway.

Most retractable baby gates only have a couple of drawbacks. They have a reputation for being noisy while extending and rewinding, which can be an issue when checking in on a sleeping baby. They’re also rarely the instant install that manufacturers advertise them to be, unlike some pressure-mounted gates. The components usually have to be screwed into the wall of the doorway, which isn’t a complicated process, but it definitely falls into the “some assembly required” category.

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