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I am trying to secure the top of my staircase from my crawling baby. I want a gate with no threshold (i.e the whole thing swings freely) so no one will trip over it and fall down the stairs. I also want a gate that self-closes so I don't have to worry about my older children forgetting to close it.

I can't seem to find any commercial baby gate that has both of these features. If I buy a threshold-free gate, what can I add to make it self-close? Would it make a difference if it's wood or metal? We bought a spring self-closer gizmo that works for a light door, but I don't think it would work for a gate.

  • I don't understand the threshold/swing freely criteria. Please revise to explain more clearly. – isherwood Nov 6 '19 at 20:49
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    Self-closing, self-locking gates are mandatory for pool enclosures, so you can find them readily at fencing supply places. Whether or not you want to temporarily install an actual gate or not is a personal decision. i.e. You'll definitely have to fasten it to the structure rather than a friction-fit setup like a baby gate. – Matthew Gauthier Nov 6 '19 at 23:32
  • @isherwood Threshold means no bottom piece you must step over or risk tripping on. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 7 '19 at 17:09
  • Voting to close as too broad. If you find a gate you like and need help with that specific project, feel free to post a question about that. This is just too wide-ranging in scope for our Q&A site. – isherwood Dec 7 '19 at 19:22
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If you fit it not quite vertical, i.e. the hinges not quite one above the other, it will swing shut.

You could also use the system used on many farm gates in the UK. Tie a loose string between a point on the gate slightly away from the hinge and a fixed point on the stair side (e.g. hand rail as long as it's on the same side as the hinge). If you then tie a heavy object to the middle of this string, it will pull the gate closed.

Self-closing gate using a chain and rock

A web search for "gate closer" also gives a range of options including a spring that could be fitted to a baby gate with a little creativity.

Spring gate closer

The baby gates I'm familiar with all require a deliberate action to lock them shut, usually by pulling down a handle. Neither of the suggestions above would work with such gates so you would need to find a gate that locks itself.

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As a quick fix, you could get a module that chimes when the gate is not closed or latched.

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    Yes, those are quite cheap and readily available, they have 2 parts, the magnet and the beeper. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 7 '19 at 17:05
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You need to teach your kids to close and lock the gate. I have 3- it took a while at first but they all did it. Entrusting a mechanical device to close perfectly 100% of the time is a recipe for disaster.

The gate we installed has a large mechanical swing and a lock on push-down. I drilled the banisters to accept it, and then put a stop behind it so that it couldn't be pushed forward (into the stairwell). Most sold gates have a threshold underneath to hold/secure them- we use that for the fireplace- but other than that any swing type gate will work.

Ultimately you will have to teach the kids to make sure the gate is closed. They'll do it to protect their sibling.

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    A self-closing baby gate also sounds like a potential pinch point for little fingers. – spuck Nov 7 '19 at 18:01

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