As soon as your little one is on the move, life as you knew it takes a swift left turn. It’s time to move the breakables up, lock down the cupboards and baby-proof your home as best you can to keep your baby safe.

First port of call is often a child safety gate to keep little wanderers out of areas they’re probably not ready to venture to, like stairs, kitchens and bathrooms. However what you might not know is that currently, there’s no Australian Standard for child safety gates.

With no standard for safety on these items, whose literal purpose is safety, consumer watchdog, CHOICE has devised its own based on US and EU standards. CHOICE experts have decades of experience and carry out rigorous tests based on overseas standards and safety knowledge, and shockingly, six out of the 14 baby gate units they tested failed basic safety tests.

The failed safety gates pose risks such as finger and limb entrapment, and even potential strangulation risks. We share the failed brands below.

“Safety gates can prevent active kids from venturing into the kitchen or tumbling down the stairs, but it’s crucial to look for one that’s secure, easy to open and close and won’t pose risks like head or limb entrapment,” says CHOICE household expert, Kim Gilmour.

“CHOICE has found quite a few which could be inadvertently left open or partly open, which is dangerous if installed at the top of stairs. Carers also need to be aware of models with high floor bars which could be a trip hazard for adults as well as children, or models with small openings which could trap curious fingers.”

And Kim’s right. When my eldest son was eight months old, I tripped over our baby gate and broke my arm. Imagine parenting a wriggling, squirming nappy-wearing toddler boy with one arm. Yep, it was as punishing as you imagined!

CHOICE household expert Kim Gilmour

CHOICE household expert Kim Gilmour says it’s essential to consider your child safety gate’s features carefully before purchasing.

Here’s what you need to know about the safety gates that failed CHOICE’s rigorous testing, and what to consider if you’re buying a safety gate.

Safety issues

  • Finger entrapment: a child’s finger could get caught in the gate.
  • Limb entrapment: a child’s arm, leg, head or neck could get caught in the gate.
  • Snag projection: the gate has a component that has the potential to snag or catch onto a child’s clothing, creating a potential strangulation hazard.
  • Inadequate secureness: the gate may be left in an insecure position, or appear to be locked when it’s not.
  • Sharp edges: some components of the gate have sharp edges that could cause an injury.

Things to consider when buying a child safety gate

If you’re looking for a child safety gate, CHOICE recommends that you might also like to consider features that will affect how adults will use the gate.

Is it a trip hazard for you?

CHOICE found some gates pose a trip hazard as the floor bar is high enough for you to catch your foot on as you walk through. To lower the risk of dropping your baby while carrying them through a safety gate, look out for a safety gate with either a low-profile floor bar with chamfered edges – or one that doesn’t have a floor bar at all.

Is it easy to open and close?

Some safety gates can be tricky to open and close, and some even need two hands to open and close them. Given that parents tend to have their hands full most of the time, this could mean that you either don’t close the gate properly or stop using it altogether – which rather defeats the purpose of having a safety gate in the first place.

Is it difficult to assemble?

If you’re a parent, you’re likely to be running on reduced sleep, so a safety gate that’s difficult to assemble may just tip you over the edge! Make sure you check the ease of use scores in our review so you can avoid the models that are a nightmare to set up.

With no Australian safety standard, consumers need to be very aware of the potential safety risks for child safety gates.

Lack of Australian safety standards across the baby industry

Unfortunately, there’s no Australian Standard for safety gates – they’re just one of a number of babies and kids’ products that don’t have to meet any particular standards for safety, even though they’re designed for use by one of our most vulnerable populations.

“For more than a decade, CHOICE has been calling on the Australian Government to introduce a law that requires manufacturers to check the products they sell are safe,” says Amy Pereira, our product safety campaigner. “In the absence of this important law, we rely on Standards, but what happens in the absence of those?

“When we buy products specifically designed to ensure the safety of our children, we should be able to make a fair assumption that the product is safe to use. But without a duty on manufacturers to guarantee this, we can only hope that the product will not harm our family.”

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The child safety gates CHOICE does not recommend

These six models from CHOICE’s most recent test all received poor safety scores, failing at least one safety test.

See the full reviews here.

Regalo Easy Step Metal Walk-Through Safety Gate 1160DS
Safety score: 20%
CHOICE Expert Rating: 32%
Ease of use score: 60%
Serious failures: snag projection (strangulation hazard), limb entrapment hazard
Note: this product was not widely available at the time of publishing. But you may still be able to pick it up from some retailers or secondhand.

Perma Child Safety Retractable Gate 754
Safety score: 40%
CHOICE Expert Rating: 45%
Ease of use score: 55%
Serious failure: lack of secureness if both hooks are not properly engaged

Dreambaby Chelsea Xtra-Wide Hallway Auto-Close Security Gate F170N
Safety score: 40%
CHOICE Expert Rating: 49%
Ease of use score: 70%
Serious failure: limb entrapment hazard

Dreambaby Chelsea Auto-Close Security Gate F160N
Safety score: 40%
CHOICE Expert Rating: 49%
Ease of use score: 70%
Serious failure: limb entrapment hazard

Infasecure Deluxe Safety Gate DG100
Safety score: 40%
CHOICE Expert Rating: 51%
Ease of use score: 75%
Serious failure: limb entrapment hazard

4Baby Auto-Close Safety Gate F2049
Safety score: 40%
CHOICE Expert Rating: 51%
Ease of use score: 75%
Serious failure: snag projection (strangulation hazard)