Most parents need to use baby gates at some stage, typically when their little one starts to crawl and wants to explore every nook and cranny of the house. If you have stairs in your home or certain areas not suitable for an infant, baby gates provide safety and peace of mind. It is completely up to a parent when to stop using baby gates, depending on the age and stage of her child.
Baby gates are designed to keep infants in or out of certain parts of the home. Active infants, whether learning to crawl or walk, are difficult to keep in one place and will do all they can to find a way into forbidden places. Baby gates make parents' lives easier, allowing them to contain a child in a baby-proofed room without concern for their safety when parents need to look away for periods of time. Baby gates may be fitted across doorways or at the top or bottom of stairs.
When to Start Using Baby Gates
Baby gates are normally used when a baby becomes mobile. The exact time will depend on the individual child. Some babies start to crawl early, while others never crawl and go straight to walking at a later stage. Some babies find other ways of getting around, such as shuffling on their bottoms. However your baby chooses to move, having baby gates well in advance means you won't be caught off guard.
When to Stop Using Baby Gates
Kids Health recommends removing all baby gates when an infant turns 2 years old. At this age, a child will be old enough to climb over the gates, which can be dangerous, especially if the gate is at the top of a staircase. Watch for your own child showing signs of trying to get over the gates, as it can happen at an earlier age. If a child is particularly tall or advanced for her age, she may be able to work out how to climb over or to open the gates before the age of 2.
Only use a baby gate that has safety qualifications listed on the packaging. While there are no mandatory safety standards for baby gates in the United States, voluntary standards have been created by the American Society for Testing Materials in conjunction with the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. While secondhand gates from friends or family may be appealing from a financial point of view, it's better to decline an offer unless the gates come in their original packaging with all relevant safety information. The safest type of gate is one with a straight top edge that mounts to doorways and walls with hardware, which means it can't be pushed over by a determined infant.
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