There are few things more adorable than a baby that has begun toddling around the house or a new puppy wandering aimlessly around investigating his new home. However, both children under the age of 3 and pets are at a high risk of injury in their home as they begin to explore without regard to safety. While accidents will happen, there are ways to decrease the chances of your child or pet getting hurt. The addition of baby gates and pet gates in your home can dramatically decrease the potential for injury. However, it is imperative that you choose the right gate to meet your needs. There are a large assortment of baby and pet gates to choose from making it very difficult to determine which one to purchase. It is important have an understanding of the types of gates available.

While there are several types to choose from, there are two that are most commonly used in the home.


Pressure MountedPressure Mounted

Pressure mounted gates are the most frequently used because they do not require any drilling. They simply stay in place by pressing on opposite walls. They are intended for use when falling is not a hazard. They should never be used at the top of a set of stairs. They are intended for use at the bottom of a set of stairs, in hallways, doorways, or as a room divider. They are also ideal when traveling because they can be easily set up in a hotel room or another home.


Hardware MountedHardware Mounted

Hardware mounted gates are bolted into the framing inside the walls of your home using brackets or screws. They are meant to be used in settings where there is a potential for your child or pet to fall, such as at the top of a set of stairs or at areas on uneven flooring. They can be used indoors or outdoors.


Freestanding GatesFreestanding Gate

Expanding gates (sometimes referred to as freestanding gates) are also an option, though they are less frequently used. They use rubber bumpers to stay in place while minimizing the likelihood of damage to your wall or doorframe. They are the easiest to remove when you have company visit. They should never be used at the top of a flight of stairs.


Metal GatesMetal Gate

Metal frames are considered to be the sturdiest gates, whether they are hardware or pressure mounted. They should be used in areas of the home where the most protection is needed, such as at the top of a flight of stairs.


Wood GatesWood Gate

Wood works well for gates that are pressure mounted. They are not recommended for use at the top of a set of stairs. Wooden gates should be completely sanded down to a smooth finish to avoid any splintering.

It is important to pay careful attention to the slats in any safety gate that you are considering purchasing. Gates with horizontal slats are rarely sold, but they can be found on occasion. However, they are not recommended for use with children. This is because they provide your child with a ladder that is perfect for climbing. This leaves you with the option of purchasing a gate with vertical slats or one that has a mesh screen.

Vertical slats are very common, but it is important that you pay attention to specifics when choosing this type of gate. Vertical slats or bars should be less than three inches apart. This prevents your child or pet from getting their head trapped in between the bars. Also, they should be close enough together to prevent your child from slipping their feet in between the slates to climb on the gate.


Mesh GatesMesh Gate

Mesh gates are durable, functional, and easy to use with children. However, there is the chance that a pet could bite at the mesh and successfully tear a hole big enough to climb through and escape. If you choose a mesh gate, make certain that the holes are not small enough for hands or fingers to get stuck in or large enough to be used as a foothold for climbing.

Latches are also an important component when selecting a safety gate for your home. It is important to ensure that a latch is positioned in a way to make it easy for you to use, but it should not be simple enough for your child to be able to open with a little effort. Magnetic latches are becoming more commonly featured on safety gates and are a great option.

There are several additional factors to consider before choosing a child or pet safety gate.

When purchasing a gate for use with a child, make certain that it is JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturer’s Association) certified. This does not necessarily guarantee that a product is perfect for your individual situation, but it does mean that it has been constructed specifically for use with a child.


Tall GatesTall Gate

The height of the gate is particularly important. A gate that is purchased for use with a child should be at least 22” tall or ¾ of the child’s height. Height can be even more important in regards to a pet. If you have a large breed dog or a cat that is known for his or her leaping abilities, it is suggested that you choose a gate that is at least 36” tall.

Make certain that the gate you purchase was manufactured within the past five years. There are several gates manufactured before this time that have been recalled due to their accordion style. They can easily trap children or small pets.