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10 Common Problems with Baby Gates and How to Solve Them

What are some of the most common problems that people experience when it comes to baby gates?

We field quite a few questions here at Baby Gates Expert and I thought I would address some solutions for these situations. 

If you are struggling with any of these problems, hopefully you will find an answer and a baby gate solution here that will work for you! 


If you have any other questions or problems, don’t hesitate to use the comment section and we will do our best to help you out!

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Problem #1: Our stairway or doorway is too wide.

When an ordinary baby gate won’t reach across your opening, what can you do?

Well, there are actually several options, depending on how wide of an area you need to cover and whether it is at the top of stairs or not. Whatever you choose, an extra-wide gate is the obvious solution!

If you are needing to install at the top of your stairs, we highly recommend the: Munchkin Extending XL Tall and Wide Hardware Baby Gate because it can extend from 33” to 56” wide and is designed to be safe for installation at the top of stairs. Plus, it can be easily removed from the wall brackets when you don’t need to use it.

Munchkin Extending XL Tall and Wide Hardware Baby Gate, Extends 33" - 56" Wide, White, Model MK0004

If you are installing elsewhere in the house (not at the top of stairs) and only need to fill up to a 5’ gap, you might want to consider the beautiful pressure-mounted Summer Infant Decorative Wood & Metal 5 Foot Gate.

Summer Infant Decorative Wood & Metal 5 Foot Pressure Mounted Baby Gate

If you have a really, really wide opening, however, you may want to consider a play yard that is stretched out. One of our favorites is the
Toddleroo by North States 3-in-1 Metal Superyard. It isn’t designed for the top of stairs, but otherwise, it can be so useful in so many areas around a large house with wide open spaces!

Toddleroo by North States 3-in-1 Metal Superyard: 144" long extra-wide gate, barrier or play yard. Hardware or freestanding. 6 panels, 10 sq.ft. enclosure (30" tall, Beige)

Problem #2: My doorway gap is too narrow for a typical baby gate.

Now and then we see an issue where a tiny doorway needs a baby gate, but nearly all gates are too wide. In this case, a retractable gate will be the perfect answer.

In this case, the gate literally rolls (or folds) into itself, leaving a very small footprint when open, while extending to exactly whatever length you need.

Of course, this feature is also handy for not just narrow areas, but normal and wide areas, too, so it is a really versatile solution to lots of openings.

One of our favorite retractables is the Retract-A-Gate Safety Gate! And if you purchase extra brackets to install in multiple doorways, you can easily move this to different locations around the house. Double win!

Retract-A-Gate Safety gate 52" White

Problem #3: We are renting a house and aren’t allowed to drill any holes.

In this situation, you have multiple different ideas to consider, such as a free-standing gate or a portable gate. But, most parents want something that functions a bit more permanently, but without the problem of needing to install with screws.

In this case, a pressure-mounted gate is your best option. This way, you get something sturdy, but also have a walk-thru door (which is standard in this style of gates).

Our favorite is the North States Supergate Easy Close Metal Gate! But please keep in mind that a pressure-mounted gate is not adequate at the top of any stairs where you will need to use a permanently-mounted gate.

Problem #4: My stairs have an unusual shape and the surfaces on either side aren’t even.

Some stairs just aren’t configured in an easy-to-babygate manner. If yours has a curve or a landing or an odd shape, you may feel quite stumped.

We see this problem over and over and it is always challenging to figure out the right gate to put at the top of a set of stairs that isn’t simplistic.

Because there are so few options for safe “top-of-stairs” gates that can handle a unique situation, we are limited in our recommendations. However, one that will often do the trick is the extra-wide North States 72" Wide Deluxe Décor Baby Gate.

North States 72" Wide Deluxe Décor Baby Gate: Provides safety in extra-wide spaces with added one-hand functionality. Hardware mount. Fits 38.3"-72" wide (30" tall, Bronze)

Now, if you don’t need to necessarily configure around a totally weird shape, but do have two uneven points of contact for installation, then the easiest thing to do is buy a gate that can be installed at up to a 30-degree angle, like the Cardinal Gates Stairway Special Gate.

Cardinal Gates Stairway Angle Baby Gate 27"-41.5", White

Problem #5: The hardware on my baby gate is too cheap, keeps breaking, or isn’t long enough.

Unfortunately, this is a far too common problem with baby gates on the market today. If you read through very many of our reviews of permanently-mounted gates then you will see this pop up as a “con” on even some of our very favorite gates. For some reason, this just seems to be a recurring issue that most manufacturer’s neglect to address.

Our best advice in this situation is to be aware of this problem and know that it can even happen with the best, expensive gates. So, plan for the possibility that you may need to simply go down to your local hardware store and buy better replacements.

This commonly will include picking the same width of screws, but ones that are longer and stronger than what came with the gate. They need to be long enough to go all the way through the drywall and into the wooden stud.

Sometimes you may also need to improvise with other unique DIY tricks such as using little blocks or strips of wood near baseboards or other creative solutions when you need to alter something with the hardware to get a tight, secure fit.

Yes, it is a pain to have to do these things, but don’t let it deter you from choosing the gate you really want. I wish there was an easier solution, but at present, sometimes it is just want folks are needing to do.

Beyond that, make sure that you have some basic tools on hand when installing your gate, such as a screw gun and measuring tape to make the process as easy as possible.

Problem #6: I have a pet that keeps jumping over the baby gate and want it to stop.

Thankfully there are a plethora of extra tall baby gates (aka pet gates!) that are really great for keeping critters and kids separated. We love the Dreambaby Chelsea Extra Tall Auto Close Gate because it stands an amazing 41” high! You just can’t beat that!

Dreambaby Chelsea Extra Tall Auto Close Security Gate in White

Problem #7: If we put a baby gate on the porch, we are worried it will rust.

This is a really valid concern in the baby gate world, as most gates are not designed to brave the elements of wind, rain, snow, and sunshine.

Thankfully, the Cardinal company has provided a solution in three different colors with their Cardinal Outdoor Child Safety Gate that has a powder-coat finish that won’t rust. Do keep in mind that the hardware (screws) might rust, however. So try coating them with a spray-on rust protector just to be on the safe side.

Cardinal Gates Outdoor Safety Gate, Brown

Problem #8: My stairway has round posts, not flat surfaces to attach a baby gate to.

Lots of stairways have spindles and balusters with round posts at top and bottom. Whether you have them on one side or both, there is a solution!

This handy kit will allow you to turn the side of your round post into a flat surface without marring it at all! We think the KidCo Stairway Gate Installation Kit is ingenious and it can be used with any permanently-mounted gate at the top of stairs or even with any pressure-mounted gate at the bottom of stairs.

Kidco Stairway Gate Installation Kit - No Drilling

Problem #9: I only need a baby gate installed sometimes, but not all the time.

In this case, you may have multiple options to choose from. You could install a pressure-mounted gate if it isn’t at the top of your stairs, since they are fairly easy to remove. But really, there is a much easier solution!

Some gates are designed to be easily removed from their brackets, such as the previously mentioned “Retract-a-Gate” and at the top of the article, the first Munchkin gate that I posted has a unique hinge system that allows you to simple unhook and remove the gate.

Beyond those, we also love the quick release wall mount that the Munchkin Loft Aluminum Hardware Mount Baby Gate has and besides, we kind of just like this gate because it has an Integrated Tuning System that adjusts for a perfect vertical fit even when walls are not level!

Munchkin Loft Aluminum Hardware Mount Baby Gate for Stairs, Hallways and Doors, Extends 26.5"- 40" Wide, Silver, Model MK0012

Conclusion

Well, there you have it! Ten tricky, but common problems with baby gates and 10 ways to solve them! Please let us know what problems or solutions that you’ve encountered in your experience! And as always… Happy Baby-Gating!

I am a coffee-lover and homeschooling mom of 20 years. With the experience of raising five babies, one of whom is still a toddler, I have had my fair share of baby gate wrangling. I enjoy sharing with other parents and passing on what I have learned about child safety. I don’t enjoy that, due to the hustle and bustle, I have to keep reheating my forgotten cup of coffee, though.

3 thoughts on “10 Common Problems with Baby Gates and How to Solve Them”

  1. I am falling short by 7” from the wall to install a super-wide gate. What is the safest way to do this ? If I order a wider gate, it will be zig zag which won’t look nice. And the difference is just 7”.

    Reply
  2. Our stairs run up the centre of our house with wall-affixed handrails on both sides – the bottom step is flush with a doorway on each side, and there is no flat surface level with the bottom step to attach a gate to. Are there any gates narrow enough to fix to the curves of a doorway’s decorative moulding? Our other options are sawing part of the handrails off and fixing it a step or two up, or putting retractable gates across both doors at the bottom (or being very diligent about keeping the doors shut!).

    Reply
    • Hi Nat. Thank you for your question. Really, only retractable gates are known for being able to fit in narrow areas, much like you’ve described. However, attempting to attach the brackets to decorative molding would likely require either modification such as attaching flat trim over top of the molding. (Without seeing it, it is a bit hard to say for sure.)

      If the area isn’t too narrow, your best bet would probably be a permanently-mounted gate such as the Safety 1st Ready to Install Baby Gate (White), which can fit in an area as narrow as 29 inches. I probably would not recommend any pressure-mounted gate if there isn’t a very flush surface for it to be mounted to unless if you modify the trim with flat pieces of wood.

      Unfortunately, not every stairway (or doorway) is very accommodating for traditional baby gates and that may be your situation. It is good that you feel you have some alternative ideas to try, if necessary. I hope you find the perfect solution!

      Reply

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