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Baby Gates That Aren't a Tripping Hazard

When it came time to choose baby gates, we quickly realized that we had some unique concerns that not every family dealt with. Between disabilities, mobility issues, age, and just plain clumsiness, not to mention the overall design of our house, most baby gates weren't going to cut it.

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Problem #1: A Wide Weird Entryway with a Staircase

Our house is beautiful and unique and one-of-a-kind. We love it. It was built by the previous owners to their specifications. And it is very obvious that they were not modern day new parents at the time of design. The house is split level, and the entryway into the living room is almost 70" wide with a wall on one side and a staircase banister that leads upstairs on the other. There is then a single step down into the room.

The first dozen baby gates I looked at would not work. Once I began looking at extra-wide baby gates, I discovered the next problem.

Problem #2: Many Gates Have a Bar Across the Bottom to Step Over

Most of these extra-wide gates mounted to the wall on either side, and had a bar extending across the middle that would need to be stepped over. There is zero chance that someone would not trip over a bar in the opening. That was not going to work for our family. First of all, I'm clumsy. I have been my whole life. There is research that shows that this is common with many people with ADHD and other types of neurodivergence, but that is a story for a different post. Regardless of the reason, between my clumsiness and disabilities that I and other household members have that result in limited mobility sometimes, the bar across the bottom was a no go. Add on to that the fact that my parents come over to watch our son several days a week and they are older, and we had to find another option.

So not only would this not work for the gate we needed for the living room, but it was also not an option to have a bar across the gate that would go at the top of our stairs.

Solution #1: A Retractable Baby Gate

What worked for us here was a retractable baby gate.

We chose this Perma Child Safety Indoor/Outdoor Retractable Baby Gate. The gate is 33" tall and can extend up to 71."

The solution wasn't perfect, but it fit our needs. Retractable gates have more slack and flexibility, so there was a concern about attempts to escape by going under, or getting stuck. While these are valid issues, we ultimately decided that since the baby gate would typically always be used while the baby was being supervised and simply to block an escape point, it was exactly what we needed.

We have two - one installed in the living room entryway, and a second that we installed blocking access to the kitchen (in yet another oddly designed wide space with banister on one side and wall on the other). And we are planning to get a third one for the downstairs that will allow us to block off 2 doorways and a staircase with a single gate by placing it at an angle, which is not an option for other most other gates.

Solution #2: A Hinged Gate

For the top of the stairs, we went this Regalo Extra Wide Walk Through Baby Gate that is easy for

us to use, even when carrying a squirmy toddler. It opens in to the landing at the top of the stairs and can be done one handed.

We also purchased this banister gate mounting kit to allow us to mount to the banister. WE didn't end up using it, as we decided to build attachers using lumber instead, but we thought the idea was pretty great and have kept them just in case.

Solution #3: The Old Fashioned Tension Gate

We also purchased a standard tension gate just to have in case we need to throw it in a doorway or hallway temporarily for any reason.

Having a gate like this is also more portable in case you wish to bring one to a hotel during travel.

Overall, these solutions have met our needs for mobility concerns when baby proofing and keep our family safe. We don't have to worry about tripping or falling. I don't have to worry about my elderly parents having difficulty. These solutions are what works for us.


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