Family & health

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Safety gates

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Keep your toddler out of trouble with a safety gate.

We tested 13 safety gates or barriers. Find out how each model performed and what to look for when you’re buying.

From our test

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About our test

We looked for a range of potential hazards:

  • gaps that might trap a child’s fingers, legs or arms or head
  • sharp edges or points
  • footholds that allow a child to climb over the gate or perhaps fall
  • detachable small parts that could cause a choking hazard.

We also tested the strength of the gate and its attachment to the doorway.

There’s no Australian/New Zealand standard for safety gates so we based our tests on suitable sections from the standards for cots, portable cots and toys.

Most of the safety gates in our Test results claim to comply with the European (EN) or the US (ASTM) standards for safety gates, or with both. But the European and US standards have different requirements from what we used in our tests.

Tip: We believe safety gates that pass our tests and comply with either the EN or ASTM standard are the best choice.

What to look for

Here's what to consider if you are thinking of buying a safety gate or barrier.

  • Barriers can't be opened, so you’ll have to step over them every time you want to get past.
  • Gates are more convenient and safer, particularly if you’re carrying a child. However, if you have older children you need to think about whether you can rely on them to always close the gate.
  • Size: Make sure the barrier or gate fits the space you want to block off. Some models have extensions you can use, for wider openings.
  • Installation: Pressure-mounted gates and barriers are held in place by friction, so they’re removable. Some have spring-loaded bars; others have spindles that are wound out until the spindles are tight against the wall. (Some manufacturers supply plastic cups that can be screwed or stuck to the wall or doorway to hold the spindles. These make the gate much more secure.) An alternative to a pressure-mounted gate is one that’s permanently fixed. But a removable gate or barrier is much more convenient.
  • Opening and closing: Gates that can be opened and closed with one hand (or by using a foot pedal) are convenient. Some gates are self-closing – but make sure they lock properly.

Safety

  • Could an agile toddler climb over? There should be no horizontal bars or mesh to provide footholds.
  • Check for protrusions which might snag clothing, possibly strangling a child.
  • Spaces between vertical bars should be between 50 mm and 95 mm wide – too wide to trap a child’s arm or leg but close enough to stop it wriggling through and being caught by the neck.
  • If you fit a gate at the top of stairs, use screwed-in wall cups to secure the gate. Make sure it opens towards you, not over the stair. If you lean on the gate as you open it you may fall forward.
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