Baby gates are important tools for parents and caregivers because they can keep young children out of stairways and other potentially dangerous areas. But if those gates are not installed correctly, or if proper precautions are not taken, the gates can actually lead to injuries.
About 5 children under the age of 7 are treated in United States hospital emergency departments every day because of baby gate-related injuries. Children can push down gates that are not mounted with hardware to walls; toddlers can pull down gates when they are trying to stand; and older children can fall when trying to climb over gates.
Following these safety tips can help prevent injuries:
- Install gates at the top and bottom of all stairways and between rooms before the child turns 6 months old.
- At the top of stairways, only use hardware-mounted gates. Gates that only press against the walls – called pressure-mounted gates – aren’t as secure. A child, even one who cannot walk, may be able to push a pressure-mounted gate down leading to a fall down the stairs.
- Make sure the gate is always closed. Sometimes a gate is left open “just for a second”. Unfortunately, sometimes that is all it takes for an injury or a fall to occur.
- Do not use older accordion-style baby gates, which have been recalled. The v-shaped gaps at the top and sides can trap and strangle children.
- If possible, remove baby gates when a child turns 2 years old. At that age, a child can begin to open gates or climb over them.
- If removing a gate is not possible because of other children in the home, use a gate without notches or gaps that could be used for climbing.
- Check for recalls at http://www.recalls.gov.