Ah, the stair gate – The child-proof fortress designed to stop your baby or toddler roaming free, giving you peace of mind to go about your business all day without a care in the world. If only it were that simple. However, they’re there to stop some pretty horrendous accidents happening, so a worthy investment nonetheless.
Our experience with stair gates in the past has been somewhat of a fail. We’ve had them for dogs and they’ve been more successful than they’ve been for a child, mainly because our dogs haven’t had opposable thumbs to attempt escaping through them. The first stair gate we bought for Ivy was second hand, like many of the items we had for her, but I would rate the security and ability to do it’s job at about -4/10, followed closely by the chocolate teapot and the inflatable dart board. Within a matter of days at about 6 months old she worked out that if you nudge it in a particular way you can open it, much to her delight. Despite the fact it didn’t serve it’s purpose, it stayed in place for about a year (we’re really lazy sometimes).
When we moved house, the chocolate teapot, I mean stair gate didn’t come with us and we were without one for a while. Putting our faith in our attention and Ivy’s awareness of the stairs being ‘dangerous’ – Naughty parents! We’ve recently taken one of the sides of Ivy’s cot off so it now resembles something more of a child’s bed than a small prison cell. What this means though is Ivy has free roam of her room, our room and the landing should she want to get up in the middle of the night. I’ve got to be honest, the knowledge that she could roam into our room when she wanted was the most frightening prospect – a new stair gate was a necessary purchase (Better gate than never… right?… right?)
The best place to go for recommendations is a friend, and that’s how we came across the ‘Safety 1st, U-Pressure Fit, Flat Step’ probably the most over engineered name for a stair gate, and even as someone who works in Marketing and fluffs words for a living, I can’t quite get on board. But I’ll get over it.
If at this point I’ve already bored you and the review hasn’t even taken place yet, I’ll save you some time. In summary the product is ‘good’. For those of you that want to stick around a bit longer, let’s dive in.
You’re looking at about £30 – £35, Which I think is perfectly reasonable. You can go cheaper, you can go more expensive but for our budget this was perfect.
My wife had a go at installing the gate first. On hearing her frustrations from the other room I stepped in to help thinking how hard can it really be, well ten minutes later we had not one but two frustrated people sat at the top of the stairs. Turns out we had a couple of parts the wrong way round, and we didn’t add the stickers that actually hold it in place. Moral of the story, don’t think you’re bigger than the instructions or YouTube. Having watched this video (AFTER!), it’s actually really straightforward. You can fit the gate more permanently with screws or with adhesive pads, it’s suitable for a 73-80cm door frame (my measurement skills were kindly questioned during the fitting by my wife as well). If you do need a wider fitting, extendable fittings are available.
To open the gate it’s an across and up motion which took a moment to get used to, but with the previous experiences we’ve had of Ivy being able to master the lock in a matter of days, I saw this as a plus. There’s also added security of a twist lock at the bottom for any of those earth shattering tantrums that might occur. A green and red label on the handle signifies whether it’s locked or open. The gate swings easily so aligning it to lock can be a bit of a pain, but we’re talking first world problems here people!
How does it look?
To put it bluntly, like a stair gate. They’ve never been the sexiest product on the market, although there are options out there like the Fred Stair Gate which is about as ‘cool’ as they get, but at the top end of budget at around £135. Falling into both functionality and look for the Safety 1st model is the flat step, through regular use, I’ve realised I’m not tripping over it like I have the previous gates we’ve had. I’ve walked into the side of it though, giving myself a wonderful dead leg. I put that down to stupidity and rushing around though.
So, what do we think?
It will never be the Gate Wall of China, and it’s not Alexander the Gate, but we are yet to see The Gate Escape, so this product overall does what it says on the tin, and we’re very happy with it. It’s worth saying, Ivy is three and I think we’ll get away with using this for at least a couple of years.
Hope this was useful. I’m sorry for the puns.