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Baby gates send almost 2,000 children to the ER each year

June 25, 2014

Many parents find that as their newborn gets older and becomes more mobile, the basic childproofing tactics throughout the home don’t provide enough protection anymore. What’s the solution? Cue the baby gates! Baby gates are commonly used to steer infants away from stairwells, doorways, or to keep them contained in a baby-safe area of the home. However, researchers are finding that these devices meant to keep infants from danger are actually causing an increase in injuries. But how can something meant to keep my child out of harm’s way actually increase their risk of injury?

The Study

The new study, conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, found that baby gates often lead to injury if used incorrectly. Based on data recorded from 1990 to 2010, an estimated 37,673 children under the age of seven were treated in an emergency department in the U.S. for baby gate-related injuries. To put this number into perspective – that is equivalent to about five children injured every day!

Researchers found that those who were injured could be divided into two different groups based on age and behavior:

  • More than 60 percent of the children injured were under the age of two. These children were most often injured by falling down stairs after a gate collapsed or was left open.
  • Children ages two to six years old were more likely to be injured by climbing over the baby gates.
Although bumps, bruises, and cuts were the most common injury, over 16 percent of baby gate accidents led to traumatic brain injuries.

What can parents do to help prevent injury?

The goal of all parents is to first and foremost, keep their baby safe and out of harm’s way.  This is why it’s important to become educated on baby gate safety and to follow the instruction manual to ensure proper installation. Here are some tips to help keep your infant safe when using baby gates in your home:
  • Only use a hardware-mounted/installed gate at the top of the stairs. Even very young children can push through a pressure-mounted gate, causing it to collapse and the child to fall down the stairs. Pressure-mounted gates can be used at the bottom of the stairs, or between doorways.
  • Do not use an accordion-style gate. The sale of these gates has been banned because of the risk of strangulation.
  • Install gates in homes with children between six months and two years of age.
  • Remove gates when the child turns two, or when he/she has learned to open or climb over them.
  • If you can’t remove a gate because of younger children in the home, use a gate without notches or gaps that could be used for climbing.
  • Educate family and friends! Grandparents and caregivers should also be aware of baby gate safety recommendations to help keep your child safe in their home as well.
With the proper use of gates and adherence to safety guidelines and recommendations, baby gates can be an essential tool to help keep your child safe at home.