One of the most common questions about baby gates is “when can I remove the baby gate?”
While not the most important topic, in my opinion, I totally understand why people ask it. I will be the first to admit that it becomes a hassle to open and close these devices countless times each day. This post will outline some of the really clear signs that it is time to take the gates down. Just to make things clear, there will be no bullet points labeled “Time to take the gates down – Dad is sick of them.”
If you are on this site looking for a gate to buy, I suggest that you check out my guide about the best baby gates of 2017.
The 5 reasons to remove the baby gate:
Your child is able to climb over the gate
Obviously, this is a problem and should be the clearest sign that your gate has to do. The most common place to have a baby gate is at the top of stairs and this is also the most dangerous place to leave a gate if your toddler manages to climb over it. You do not want him or her to fall down the stairs at all, and falling from the added height of a gate just makes it a lot worse. If you still feel that you need to restrain them from going to the stairs, you can either get a taller gate, one that is not so easy to climb or place it at a different location. A nearby door opening would often be a good choice.
When your child can navigate stairs without problems
If you feel comfortable with the toddlers’ skills with navigating stairs, you are probably better off with removing the gate. Removing the distraction that the gate is will help them with concentrating on the task of walking safely in stairs. Also, kids need to train to be good at stairs. Removing the gate will give them the chance to practice their skills.
Opening the gate is no longer a problem for the little one
This one is also obvious, but a bit tricky to solve for many parents. As some kids figure out how the opening mechanism works long before they are able to walk stairs safely, you still need to have some sort of barrier there. I would suggest that you either buy a taller gate or find an alternate placement for the gate. A third option is to buy a gate that is harder to open, but parents usually prefer the one-handed easy open options.
General Guideline: The chin of your child is taller than the gate
This is a sign of a child that has “outgrown” the gate. There are a few different reasons why you should follow this guideline. Firstly, when your kid is this big, you can expect him to be able to climb over the gate soon. Secondly, the height also implies that your child is quite heavy and strong. Baby gates are not designed to withstand abuse from big strong children. A worst-case scenario would be that the child is able to knock the gate down and falling with it down the stairs.
General guideline: the kid is older than 2 years
A variation of the previous guideline. You would expect a kid older than two years old to be quite big. However, there is a lot more room for individual reasoning regarding this guideline. Kids grow and develop at very different paces, so removing the gate at 2 years might not be the best option for everyone. Considering it though, is probably a good idea.
How do you proceed after you remove the baby gate?
So now you don’t have any gates, but of course you still want your child to be safe. How do you accomplish it? In my experience, a good old close eye is the best method. Keeping your child under close supervision and helping him or her to practice walking stairs so that they can do it on their own as soon as possible is the best way to do it. It is probably best to start by teaching them how to scoot up and down before they try walking.
Reusing baby gates
Yes, if you decide to remove the baby gate, you can reuse it for other purposes. Especially if you have, or are planning to get, pets that you want to contain in one area of your home. In particular, pressure mounted gates are very easy to un-mount and mount at another location when you find a different use for them.
One thing that we want to mention before we end this post is that these signs or rules may not always apply to fireplace baby gates. The reason for that is that these gates create a safety zone around the fireplace which is good to have even after your child reaches a certain age, size or skill level.