When Can You Stop Using Baby Gates?

Baby and safety gate
These gates will only stop him for so long. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Baby safety gates can be placed around your home to keep your little one safe from falling down the stairs and from getting into places he shouldn’t. Unfortunately, at a certain point, the gates will not keep your child contained and should be removed. There are also a few other considerations to take into account when deciding whether to keep the gate up or to stop using it.

Age Limit

There are age and development limitations to baby gates that you should consider. Consumer Reports states that safety gates are intended for children 6 months to 2 years of age. If your child’s chin reaches the top of the gate, it may be time to remove it. Once your child is old enough to figure out how to open the safety gate or climb over it, the gate is no longer reliable and could actually be dangerous.

After Gates

Once your child has outgrown the safety gates, you should prepare him for life without the gates. Show your little one how to go up and down the stairs properly. Practice these skills with your child so he can see how to do it and you can watch his progress. You should still keep an eye on him while he’s getting used to this new freedom. Let him know the stairs are not a play area and that he should never leave toys on the stairs.

Other Gate Uses

If you’ve removed the gates, there’s no need to throw them in the trash. You can still use these to contain pets or when other small children come to visit. During birthday parties and family get togethers, you can put these gates up to discourage people going in certain areas of the house.

Considerations

Baby gates are not a substitute for adult supervision, so keep an eye on your child regardless of a gate being in place or not. You should only use hardware-mounted gates at the top of your stairs. Pressure-mounted gates are ideal for between rooms or at the bottom of the stairs, but they are not strong or safe enough for the top of the stairs. If you choose an accordion-style gate, make sure it has a top filler bar. If it doesn’t, your child may get his fingers, hands or head caught in the spaces.

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