Baby safety is the most important thing for every parent. With all the safety tips people share, first-time parents can’t help but wonder, are baby gates necessary ? or are they a waste of money.
Baby gates are, as their name implies, gates you can install throughout your home, keeping certain areas off-limits for your children. While some think they are funny looking or unusual, they are actually a great safety tool for your kid – especially when they have just learned to walk.
However, baby gates can be a fairly expensive investment. Many parents will be looking for alternative ways to ensure their child does not roam where they shouldn’t. So, are baby gates necessity for your baby checklist or is this just another scheme to take your money?
Here’s what you need to know.
Are Baby Gates Necessary?
Yes, for most families, baby gates are necessary. Sure, you might be able to think of some alternative methods to keep your child away from certain rooms, but gates are by far the best way to ensure safety.
It is near impossible to keep an eye on your child all day, everyday! Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, so why not take all reasonable precautions to prevent them from occurring?
Here are a few facts that will help you answer ‘ are baby gates necessary ? ’ :
Kids Can Fall Down the Stairs
First and foremost, you should block access to any stairways that are in your home. It doesn’t matter where they lead, stairs are likely the biggest danger to your toddler.
In fact, it is estimated that every 6 minutes one child is injured on stairs. About 16% of them fell in a baby walker, and fortunately, most of these injuries are just bruises or soft tissue injuries. However, about 3% of toddlers ended up hospitalized due to injuries from falling down the stairs.
Kids Get into Everything
Toddlers are often very determined to reach for things or go into places, even if you yourself do not think it will be possible for them to get there. So, anything that isn’t baby-proofed or locked, will potentially be accessible for your little one with enough perseverance.
If you wondered are baby gates necessary to keep things away from your baby’s reach – they absolutely are. Anything potentially harmful that cannot be locked inside a cabinet should be kept behind a baby gate.
Don’t Leave Kids Unsupervised with Pets
Even if your little one is best friends with your pets, you can never know when that situation can change. Your cat might suddenly get bored being cuddled by your child, or your toddler might pull the pooch’s tail a bit too enthusiastically one too many times, triggering a potentially dangerous situation . All of this can cause injuries to both the kid and the pet.
While there are a lot of different opinions on whether your kid and your furry family companion should spend time together, one thing is certain: You should never leave your small kid and your pet together unsupervised. A baby gate can prevent them from running into each other while you’re elsewhere in the house.
Kids Will Try to Go Outside
Most children love to spend time outdoors, especially toddlers. They’ll try to escape and explore the great outdoors with every chance they have. While playing with them on the porch and in your backyard has many benefits for your kid, it’s important to have a baby gate that will keep them from getting outside without your supervision.
Ideally, all exits from your house should be baby proofed. A baby gate is a very reliable way to do so. It will mean you can still carry on leaving your backdoor open for ventilation if that’s what you are used to.
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a child who is rather calm and listens to you, things can get tricky at night. When they are fast asleep, you won’t be able to monitor your child all the time. You’ll possibly be asleep yourself. Even if you sleep in the same room, accidents can happen without you being aware of them.
Kids are known to sleepwalk. In fact, they sleepwalk much more often than adults. Sleepwalking can be dangerous, because your toddler is unlikely to be fully aware of their surroundings in the dark, so can easily bump into things or fall down stairs etc.
Nightlights and baby monitors can alert you if your child does get up out of bed. But they may not be enough if you are in a deep sleep. A baby gate will give you that peace of mind and help you sleep more soundly.
Kids Will Try to Follow You Everywhere
Toddlers are known to behave like Velcro. Wherever you go, your toddler will follow. From bathroom to kitchen, they’ll act as your shadow and try to be a part of each and every one of your tasks. Although this is enjoyable and mostly harmless, sometimes you just need to get on with a job, or need to make sure your child doesn’t get too close to the action (for example if you are cleaning with household detergents, you don’t want your kid getting too close).
If you have a baby gate installed, you can make sure your kids cannot follow you into certain areas of the house. Commonly, you’ll want to keep them out of the kitchen and the bathroom. If you create a safe enclosed space for your little one with a baby gate and give him enough toys to play with, you’ll be satisfied that your child will be occupied allowing you to get on with things.
Where Do I Need Baby Gates?
So far we’ve answered the question: are baby gates necessary ? Next, you also need to understand all the locations inside your home that can be dangerous for your little one.
Most accidents happen inside the home. Sure, we expect the kitchen and the bathroom to be potentially unsafe, but other areas of home can be dangerous too.
For example, your living room is likely filled with tables that have sharp edges, heavy bookcases, TV sets, loose wires and cords. All these items can cause harm to your toddler. Cords can tangle around them, books and other items can fall and bookcases and TVs might even be toppled over.
Your home office is also a dangerous place. There are many small items your child can swallow, such as erasers or paper clips. Not to mention plastic bags! Even paper can be dangerous if eaten, and a child could cut themselves on it.
Bedrooms probably pose less of a danger, though you should be wary over sharp edges to a bed frame or bookcase. Even objects on the bedside table can be knocked over. Items in cabinets and wardrobes can also be hazardous.
Bathrooms are fairly dangerous as they will often have lots of personal cleansing items and medicine that can be dangerous for a child. Sure, you can store them out of reach, but sometimes you might forget to properly pack them and all it takes is just a second. Even toilets are considered a drowning hazard!
Kitchens are an obvious concern. They’re filled with sharp objects and heavy items that can be a danger. Stoves and ovens can cause burns. In fact, if your child eats in the kitchen, they need to have their own safe space such as a high chair. If they can roam freely, they there are a lot of potential hazards.
Stairs are another significant problem. The only thing you can do to make sure your child never uses the stairs unsupervised, is to install a baby gate. You should install a baby gate at the bottom and the top of all stairs that are inside your home.
Are Baby Gates Safe?
Baby gates are reliable tools that can help us keep our loved ones safe. As long as your little bundle of joy is within the specified height and weight limit and you keep the gate locked, there is no way a toddler can breach it.
However, there are a few safety concerns when it comes to baby gates. In fact, if installed improperly, they might even cause injuries to a child.
Between 1990 and 2010, it is estimated that more than 37,000 children were hospitalized due to baby gate-related injuries. Majority of these injuries involved kids under the age of two, and most had fallen down the stairs if the gate was left open or collapsed. Unfortunately, some of these falls resulted in serious traumatic brain injuries.
Even some older toddlers and preschoolers, aged 2 to 6, were injured either by contact with the gate or after climbing over it. This is why it’s essential to pick the right size of baby gate.
As you can see, while you’ll get an affirmative answer to the question ‘Are baby gates necessary ?’, it’s also essential to properly install a baby gate.
Baby Gate Installation
Baby gate installation will usually depend on the type of the gate you have. While you can call a professional who will install, if you have some basic DIY skills, you’ll probably be able to do this on your own.
Baby gates should come with a thorough instruction manual that you should read and follow. Some are easy to install, others are more challenging. There are some baby gates that only experts can install. It’s important to check all these details before purchasing a baby gate you’re interested in.
Do Baby Gates Have to Be Drilled?
Not all baby gates require drilling. While it’s true that drilling is the best way to make sure your gate is sturdy and won’t fall over, some models are considered no-drill. There are two categories of baby gates, depending on the installation process:
Hardware-mounted gates require drilling; while pressure-mounted can provide a tight fit between two walls without – if you’ve picked the right size. Most of the time, pressure-mounted gates are suitable for the bottom of the stairs or a doorway.
In the end, it is up to you which type you’ll choose.
Why Are Baby Gates So Expensive?
Unfortunately, baby gates are some of the most expensive baby items you can find. This is the main reason why many first-time parents want to know ‘are baby gates necessary ?’ before investing so much money into them.
Baby gates are made out of strong, durable materials. The best ones should last several years, and they should be strong enough that your toddler can’t break them. This includes enduring your child running into them at full force or trying to climb on top of them.
At the same time, they have to be properly designed to not only keep your little one safe but also to ensure they are user friendly, so you can walk through or over them with ease. They also have to meet specific safety standards. All of this takes skills and expertise, which can cost companies a lot in the manufacture and design process. This is a cost passed on to the consumer.
Unfortunately, as with any other profit oriented business model, where there is the demand and need, manufacturers can charge what they want. Manufacturers know you need baby gates and parents will pay to ensure their child’s safety. This is the same reason why many other child items cost so much money, like car seats and strollers.
As a first-time parent, you’ll see that there are many expenses associated with your child. Baby gates are one of them, and for an item that seems so small and simple, they can be quite costly. This makes many parents wonder: are baby gates necessary or can they be avoided by using some other baby-proof methods.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an adequate replacement for a baby gate. This is the only item that can truly ensure your kid doesn’t get into forbidden and dangerous places.
Of course, it isn’t enough just to buy a good baby gate. You’ll also need to install it properly and to make sure it’s put in the right spot and blocking the right room. Still, if you do a bit of research and get the right product, you’ll save your little one from many dangerous situations.