What to look for when buying a safety Gate
Opens easily: Most hardware-mounted gates swing open, but some pressure-mounted gates don’t (usually the basic models). You may think that hopping over the gate isn’t such a hassle, but wait until your hands are full and you’re in a hurry. Weary parents don’t need another obstacle to trip over.
Slats no more than 2 3/8 inches apart: If the gate has vertical slats, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) recommends that they be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. A child’s head could get trapped in a larger gap, leading to strangulation.
Safety standards: If the baby gate you’re considering doesn’t have an American Society for Testing and Materials/JPMA certification on the packaging, keep shopping. Only models with this seal are guaranteed to meet voluntary safety standards. Don’t rely on the manufacturer’s name alone. A company may certify some but not all of its products.
Fit: Most gates will block an average doorway. If you have a larger area to protect, make sure you get a gate that stretches farther or has interlocking sections to encircle a bigger hazard.
Important safety notes
Don’t use older, accordion-style gates that open to form large diamond-shaped gaps. A child’s head can get stuck in these spaces, creating a potentially deadly situation. The earlier designs were pulled off the market in 1985, but they sometimes turn up in secondhand stores and garage sales. More recent models have smaller gaps – no more than 1 1/2 inches across – that meet current safety standards.