What You Need to Know Before Installing a Baby Gate

In what seems like only weeks, your baby has gone from a newborn curled up on your chest to taking their first steps – where did the time go?!

This new activity from your little one requires a ‘baby-proofing’ game plan. In most homes, a baby gate is needed to keep your little one at bay (and safe).

But the task of buying, and then installing a baby gate can be more overwhelming than one would think. We will walk you through everything you need to know before and after you’ve purchased a gate to make installation a breeze.

Know the Size of the Opening the Gate Will Be For

It always seems to be the biggest question when choosing a baby gate – what size of baby gate do I need? Will this fit the space? Make sure to measure your opening from where you feel the top of the gate will go and at the bottom.

In some homes, baseboard is thick, so your measurements from the top of the gate to bottom my change. From experience, it is helpful to go off the baseboard measurement if you plan to pressure mount your gate. Buy a gate that will fit in that space. Most spindle rods can accommodate the different measurements and still provide a tensioned fit.

Another tip on baby gate sizes: If a gate states it will fit an opening 39” wide, the gate itself will most likely be 37” wide with the four attachable spindle rods adding one inch on either side of the gate to get you to 39” wide.

Type of Baby Gate to Choose

Buying the right type of baby gate for your space is important for two reasons.

  • It will be safer for you and your child.
  • You will be using it often, it should fit the space well and be convenient to operate.

The good news – you have choices. Not only in the type of gate but shape, color, step over or walk through. We’ll break it down for you.

Super Wide Baby Gate

If you have an open concept, this is gate may be a lifesaver for wrangling your little one to a designated space. Super wide gates can span anywhere from 76” to 192” (yes, that is 13 feet wide).

This type of gate requires you to hardware mount it to the wall for stability purposes. Most super wide gates are multi-purpose and also function as an enclosable play yard.

Another tip on super wide gates: Look for a super wide gate with a walk-through door. If you’re needing to gate that large of an area, you will want to easily be able to pass through.

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Top of Stairs

If you are in need of a gate at the top or bottom of the stairs, it is best to purchase a gate meant for that space. A top of stairs gate will come equipped with banister mounting systems and the ability to hardware mount against one wall. With a door that swings completely open, it makes passing through simple.

Manufacturers will never recommend using a regular, pressure mounted gate for your stairs. The small bar you need to step over with a regular gate is a trip hazard and overall was just not intended to protect your stairway opening.

Standard Opening Baby Gate

The majority of you will fall into this category – you have a standard sized opening in a hall or doorway that you need gated. There are a lot of options for you in this category.

Most baby gates will fit a range of sizes from 39” to 52” wide. This happens by adding extensions to the gate. Extensions either come with the gate or are sold separately (make sure you read the manufacturers description).

This style of baby gate can either be pressure mounted or hardware mounted to fit in your space. Most people opt for pressure mount to avoid putting holes in their walls.

Passing through the baby gate

You are going to be using this baby gate for quite some time, so put some thought into how you want to pass through the gate 400 times a day. The standard baby gate offers you two options for pass-through – step over or walk-through door.

The step over gate is usually around 23-25” tall and requires you to step over every time you need to get past. If the gate is going to be placed in a non-high traffic area, this option is good – and usually a bit cheaper.

The other option, walk-through gate, has a latched door that you open and pass through. The door opening varies from 16” to 20” wide. The way in which they latch varies as well. This is a great option for high-traffic areas.

Another tip about the door on a baby gate: When your gate arrives, there WILL be a large gap between the handle and the end of the door. It’s normal. Once you have placed your gate and properly pressure mounted, the gap will close and the door will operate normally.

Easiest Way to Install Your Baby Gate

Now to the fun part! Installing your gate. In reality, this should be a fairly straightforward task without the need for an armful of tools or trips to the hardware store. Here’s our quick break down for installing a baby gate:

  • Before installation, add any extensions you need to make the gate fit your space. Then add the four spindle rods.
  • If you plan on hardware mounting the gate, add the four wall cups at this point.
  • Place the gate into our opening and begin tightening each spindle rod as evenly as you can.
  • You will start to notice the gate tightening and that gap in the door we talked about earlier closing (if you have a walk-through gate).
  • Once tensioned properly the gate should feel sturdy, and if you have a walk through gate the door should open and close smoothly.

A baby gate is a necessary item for most baby-proofed homes. We hope this has helped to make the purchase of a baby gate a little less confusing.

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