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Your baby gates have served you and your child well, but are they starting to outgrow it? There comes a certain time when you start wondering whether your baby gates need to go. This isn’t just about developing your child’s autonomy, it’s about when a baby gate can actually start to become dangerous.
First: When should you install your baby gates?
There’s technically no time that’s “too early” to install your baby gates, but you should have your baby gates installed by six months. Once your baby starts crawling, you need to have a way to ensure that your baby doesn’t get into any trouble!
But you can install your baby gates earlier than that, too, and there could be an advantage. By getting used to the baby gates early, you’ll also reduce the chances that you’ll forget to secure them.
Put up the gates early if you have pets you want to keep away from the baby! That’s for the pet’s sake as well as the child’s. Children need to learn how to interact with pets before they can be trusted.
When should you remove your baby gates?
Every child is different and every child develops at different times. Usually, you will remove your baby gates around the age of two. But it isn’t the age that matters, but rather the mobility of your child.
Baby gates need to be removed once your child is developed enough to start opening them or climbing them on their own, because at that point they become dangerous. Now: There are solutions to this. They do make taller baby gates, too.
But, at this age you will also be teaching your child what is and isn’t dangerous, and at a certain point, your child is going to start existing without baby gates. Because of this, there’s also an appropriate time developmentally to start taking down your baby gates.
How do you know when it’s the right time for you?
When your child figures out how to unlatch the gate. At this point, the gate is worse than ineffective: It gives you a false sense of assurance. Once your child has unlatched the gate once, they can do it again, even if they don’t seem to “remember” how to do it for some time. Don’t try any workarounds, here: It’s time for them to come down.
When your child has figured out how to climb the gate. Climbing the gate is even more dangerous than just unlatching it, because it carries with it the added component of potentially falling. Some gates, though, are easier to scale than others. Mesh gates, for instance, might just need to be replaced with harder-to-climb gates. But if your child is climbing a sturdy, heavy duty gate, the gate has to go.
When your child begins to understand danger. When your child understands the concepts of danger, it’s time to start building their independence and their autonomy. After all, you can’t protect them from the whole world forever, and you’re going to need to eventually introduce them to the things they need to avoid.
Of course, that covers when you should remove the gates. But how should you remove the gates?
How can you properly remove your baby gates?
Understandably, you don’t want to remove all the gates all at once. Instead, practice leaving them open (in a secured position) for a few hours at a time. Begin with the areas that you know you’re going to be able to monitor your child in.
Before you even start removing the gates, give your entire home a once over again to make sure you’ve baby proofed things. You might have baby proofed things for an infant, but now you have a toddler, with strength and energy in surplus. Your toddler is going to get into things at different heights than your crawling baby might, and now they’re going to have even more access to move freely around your home. Pay attention to anything they can scale or pull down on themselves.
You may want to leave gates on areas that are infrequently entered and that could be dangerous, such as laundry rooms and bathrooms, for some time (unless your child has started to climb gates or open them themselves). If you’re just weaning your child off the gates, you want to introduce them to new areas to explore one at a time, and resolve any issues as they go.
Often, the last gate to go is going to be the gate around your baby’s own room. There are two reasons for this. One, even if you’re weaning your child off the gates, you may still find it useful to keep them in their room at times. Two, children actually become quite attached to their gates. They may find the gate at their room comforting.
But again: Once the gates have become dangerous, they’ve got to go!
During the time period after you’ve “lost the gates,” there could be heightened danger and accidents, so you need to watch your children closely. But it’s a simple fact of life that sometimes they’re going to have to grow up, and growing up often means shedding some of the “training wheels” that life offers them.
Once you’ve removed all your gates (and potentially patched up any small holes left), you can continue teaching your child about the dangerous areas in the home, and the safe areas of the home. Just make sure you’ve baby proofed!
Last updated on April 8th, 2020 at 11:01 am