As a parent, I know that nothing can quite compare to the feeling you get from a great night’s sleep. Waking up rested can literally make all the difference in how you parent throughout the day and how productive you are able to be.
So how can baby gates help you sleep better at night?
As soon as our children reach the point where they begin to climb, crawl, walk, or get movin’ at all, it feels like we are constantly on guard. These milestones are wonderful to watch happen, but they also tend to drag a parent around by the collar. The amount of diligence it takes to make sure that our children are safe is enough to make any parent weary.
Throughout the day, from about the time when your child is 6 months old until around the age of two and a half, life pretty much revolves around chasing them, corralling them, keeping an ever-watchful eye on them, grabbing them out of harm’s way, and pulling a million and one things out of their reach. It can be nothing short of exhausting.
WHAT TO DO:
So how can we, as parents, make life a little easier for ourselves? We can’t pen them up (or can we?....hello playpens!) or put them on a leash (well, actually you can, at least in certain situations...there are child leashes, after all!).
But what is the common solution? You guessed it! BABY GATES! Just as simple as that, you can turn your home into a safety zone. Partition off the kitchen or laundry. Block the office. Make the living room the only accessible area. Make the stairs completely off-limits.
By using baby gates throughout your home, you will be maximizing safe zones and eliminating or reducing hazards. In and of itself, just knowing that your home is safer in general, you will begin to breathe easier and sleep better. Giving your baby or toddler a home that inherently draws boundaries and creates safe areas is one of the sweetest things a parent can do.
WHAT TO DO IT:
Of course, that doesn’t mean your child will appreciate your Herculean-efforts to provide these limits, but in this case, too bad, because “Mama and Papa know best!” Really, the best thing you can do is to already have all gates in place long before they are actually needed.
By utilizing this one special tip, you will reduce heartbreak and tears a thousandfold. This is because children that are raised with a certain mindset tend to accept it. If they never remember a home without baby gates, they will not readily assume that the gates were put up just to keep them contained. They will simply accept them as a part of your home’s landscape.
Since they aren’t questioning the gates’ existence or purpose, it is far less likely for them to wail against them or try to breach them. This means that you will spend less time fighting your child to stay on the correct side of the gates that you have installed and more peace of mind.
SO HOW CAN THIS IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP?
- 1Parents that spend less time during the day feeling stressed out and overwhelmed oftentimes enjoy longer, deeper sleep cycles. So when you need to spend less of your energy focused on keeping baby out of trouble, you are setting yourself up for being more relaxed as bedtime approaches.
- 2In the same manner, children who spend their days being more content, in a familiar setting, and with boundaries that don’t feel intrusive, will tend towards feeling more relaxed and ready to sleep better come nighttime. If they are not filled with angst during the day, they will rest easier...which, in turn, will help you sleep better.
- 3Kids thrive on routine. Baby gates can help you maintain a routine. Instead of letting your child run amok, creating a flow throughout your day gives your child a sense of continuity. If your child can predict that they will only have access to certain parts of the home during certain times, they will accept other routines, bedtime and otherwise, better, too.
- 4A child contained by baby gates is far, far less likely to suffer pain either from a mild altercation with something dangerous in the home or a catastrophic accident that requires hospitalization. If your child ends up needing to be comforted or monitored at home or taken to the ER due to an accident, trust me you will lose sleep. And a lot of it!
- 5Toddlers that wake up in the night and can leave their bed are at a unique risk. Properly installed baby gates can make the difference between them navigating safely at night vs either having a nasty fall down a stairwell or even escaping outdoors. By making sure your child can find you in the night easily without risk, you will be able to sleep more soundly.
SO WHERE SHOULD YOU PLACE BABY GATES TO GET THESE BENEFITS?
Top of Stairs-
Probably the most important gate in any home is the one that gets installed at the top of any stairs that you have. For this application, you will, of course, need a permanently-mounted gate that is screwed into the door frame or wall studs so that it remains secure and steady, no matter if someone pushes on or falls against it.
Second to that, you should consider which areas of your home are accessible to your child but also have dangerous appliances. The two areas that stand out the most are the kitchen and the laundry room. Stoves/ovens, refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers all act as kid magnets but can pose as risks for curious children. Make sure your child doesn’t have access when you aren’t looking.
The Home Office-
This is a room that should likely be considered off-limits. If it doesn’t have a door, use a baby gate. Electronics and wires, bookshelves, sharp office supplies, etc… all together create an atmosphere ripe for disaster. Not only do you want your child safe, but you don’t want Little Johnny to wreak havoc in this sensitive area.
Any spot in the house that has as much water access as a bathroom is far too hazardous to let a tyke have open entry. Granted, you may be able to get away with closing or locking the bathroom door, so it may not require a baby gate, but if you can simply partition that section of the house, that works, too. If you are potty-training, then pay extra attention to how you handle this.
The Porch or the Great Outdoors-
Many kids make excellent escape artists. Using baby gates to limit access to your entryway or porch entry will serve to give you extra peace-of-mind. Make sure to use a gate with a baffling lock system that your child can’t master. And if you do place a gate outdoors in the weather, specifically look for one that is designed to hold up to the elements.
Overall, the living room is usually considered the safest place to corral the kids most of the time. But, there are a lot of exceptions to this rule, so think twice before you give free rein. Do you have a TV perched on a stand or table? Do you have any exercise equipment hanging out? What about a fireplace? These things are obvious danger spots, so make sure to partition them off.
HOW MANY BABY GATES WILL YOU NEED?
Every home is different. Every configuration is unique. Some families get by easily with just one well-placed baby gate that essentially creates one safe zone and limits access to the rest of the house. Other homes need a gate at nearly every point along the way. How open of a floor plan that your home has will most likely determine the number of gates that make the most sense.
Now, obviously, if you have a set of stairs (or two), you will need to baby gate them, usually top and bottom, on top of whatever other baby gates you install. Because these are designed to keep baby off the stairs, they aren’t going to do any good in reducing their movement throughout the rest of the house.
Use your best judgment to determine the placement of each gate. A useful exercise is to get down on your hands and knees and crawl around at kid level. Look up, look around, look sideways. What can your child reach? What looks most enticing? Are there hazards from that vantage point that you don’t notice when standing up?
Kids are notorious at finding trouble to get into. It is important to always stay one step ahead of them and not let them get the upper hand. (Because trust me, they will take advantage of the situation if you do not!) By providing barriers in their path, you disrupt their exploration (which sounds bad) but protect them from themselves (which is actually good).
So if you need more sleep to function better and want to avoid the pitfalls of letting your child run loose, take control of your life and make the right decision to babyproof your home and babygate where necessary. There is simply no reason not to reduce or eliminate these risks and there are so many benefits that you will quickly realize.
And keep in mind that you can rest assured that if your toddler does wake up while you are sleeping, properly installed baby gates could literally make the difference between a life and death incident. Don’t skimp and you will be able to sleep better knowing these handy devices literally will have your back and keep working hard day AND NIGHT.
So, here is to sleeping better!
Happy Baby-Gating from the Baby Gate Expert!