Gates placed at the top of stairs or in doorways are used to keep toddlers away from hazardous areas of the home.
Old accordion-type gates (sold before 1985), are not safe; they have diamond-shaped openings with wide V's at the top. These can trap a baby's head and cause them to choke.
What to look for:
Measure the doorway or top of the stairs before you shop so you buy a gate that is wide enough to block the space.
Check the label for an ASTM/JPMA certification (American Society for Testing and Materials, and Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association).
Look for a hardware-mounted gate that attaches to the door frame without any openings to trap fingers or necks. Pressure-mounted and freestanding gates can fall over if the child pushes hard enough, so these gates are not safe to put at the top of the stairs.
Choose a gate with a straight top edge with either rigid bars or a tight mesh screen.
There should be no more than 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) between the floor and the gate bottom to keep a child from slipping underneath.
Rigid vertical slats or rods should be no more than 2-3/8 inches (6 centimeters) apart, so that the child's head cannot be trapped between the slats.
Check for sharp edges and pieces that could cut or hurt a toddler's hands. If the gate is made from wood, check for splinters.
Do not buy gates with openings that a child could use for climbing.
The gate should be no less than three quarters of the child's height.
Keep large toys away from the gate to prevent kids from using them to climb over.
Pressure-mounted gates may be used for doors between rooms (as long as there are no stairs between the rooms). Remember to place the pressure bar away from the child.
Gates that swing out should never be used at the top of stairways.
Stop using the gate when the child is about 2 years old.