CONTAINING MR MISCHIEF
Having a precocious, 17 month old toddler with no sense of danger is hard work. He is constantly getting up to all sorts of mischief as he explores the world around him, and the stronger and more wilful he gets, the harder he is to contain. His sister before him was much the same, so it is no wonder that our home has become a veritable showroom for baby gates. You can't negotiate more than two rooms in our house before having to open or close one, but the inconvenience is more than off-set by our peace of mind that he hasn't toddled off into yet another perilous situation.
However, that sense of peace doesn't usually extend to visits to child-free houses, and, in particular, to either of his two sets of grandparents. Our son sees every staircase as a challenge, and it is very difficult to stop him from trying to climb them. As such, we decided to add to our burgeoning collection of baby gates by investing in a travel version. Having scoured the market in typically fastidious fashion, we settled on the offering by Danish company BabyDan, called the "Gate to Go" (G2G).
BabyDan have been making child safety gates since 1968, and now specialise in a broad range of child safety and containment devices for inside and outside the home, including bed guards, travel cots, and playpens. Their products are readily available from a number of on-line and high street stockists such as Amazon, Kiddicare, Mothercare, John Lewis and Argos. The G2G is currently available for between £25 and £30, which compares favourably to a similar product from competitor Lindam (£25).
GOOD TO GO?
The first thing to note about the G2G is that it is more of a barrier than an actual gate. It doesn't have a swinging door mechanism, and comes in one piece which is adjustable and pressure mounted. A zippered, cushioned and hard-wearing grey nylon case is provided (a pink version is also available apparently), and features an adjustable shoulder strap with a sliding padded part that makes it easy and comfortable to carry.
The gate slots into the case quite snugly, and it can take a bit of effort to zip up properly. When folded up and inserted in the case, the G2G measures around twenty-eight (28) inches long, nine (9) inches wide and two (2) inches deep, so it takes up very little space in a car boot, and can easily fit into larger suitcases if you need to take it away on holiday with you. At 2.3kg (about 5lbs) in its travel case, it won't eat up too much of your luggage allowance either. However, one note of caution - the case is integral to the gate in the sense that it's the only way to keep it secure and contained in its folded up position. It doesn't "lock down" and there are no straps or tabs to prevent it opening up again, so its awkward to store without the case.
EASE OF USE
The main part of the gate is made of grey nylon mesh, which is strong, yet easy to see through. The moving parts at the sides, which allow the gate to fold down into a manageable size, are fully encased in nylon, ensuring that little fingers don't get caught in them. Assembling the gate is straightforward and intuitive - you simply pull the sides apart and hyper-extend them a little bit until the locking mechanism clicks into place.
There are three adjustable rubber pads which you screw in and out to adjust to the width of the opening you want to insert it into (the fourth, at the bottom, is spring-loaded and doesn't adjust). There is a good range of movement on each of the adjustable pads, allowing the gate to fit openings between twenty-eight (28) and thirty-six (36) inches, which will account for most standard sized door frames. You need to make sure that you do the adjustments with the locking lever in the "up" position. Once you have a secure fitting (which can take some time to get right) you push the lever down until it locks into place and - viola! - you have an instant toddler barrier in place. A more detailed set of instructions is provided with the gate.
As long as the rubber pads are in contact with a solid, non-slip surface, they will withstand an impressive amount of battering. BabyDan suggest that the G2G is suitable for up to 24 months - which will cover both crawling infants and newly walking (and running) toddlers - and that sounds about the right age range. That said, I have walked into it once or twice by accident (my fault - its easy enough to see if you are looking!) and have not dislodged it. The small nylon mesh also cushions small impacts and can't be climbed, although that doesn't stop Mr Mischief from trying.
Dismantling the G2G is much easier. You disengage the locking lever by simultaneously pressing a discreet button next to the handle and lifting it up, which can easily be accomplished one-handed. Next, on each side of the gate, there is a prominent padlock symbol on the nylon encased frame, under which there is a concealed release button. You press one side and accordion it down first, and then the other, to reduce it to carry case dimensions. One quick tip - make sure the rubber pads are fully screwed into position, otherwise, the G2G won't fit inside its case.
MR MISCHIEF CONTAINED?
The G2G is a very useful bit of kit with some nifty features, and its few drawbacks are necessitated by its compact design and intended use as a travel barrier rather than any fundamental flaw. As a baby barrier, it boasts impressive portability, great security and relative ease of use. That said, although it calls itself a "Gate to Go", it's not really a baby gate in the strictest sense. If you want to keep an area of a house off limits to an inquisitive toddler, it works well, though its use is pretty much confined to doorways and stairways with banisters which it can be fitted against.
Unfortunately, it is not really suitable for high traffic areas, as it is inconvenient to have to remove it and replace it each time you want to get in and out. To point out the obvious, that means it should not be used (and is not intended for use) as a permanent stair gate. You'll need both hands to use it, so in our house, with Mr Mischief on the rampage, and his mum attending to his newborn little brother, we use traditional baby gates that can be operated one-handed. In short, if you're looking for a temporary safety barrier to take away with you to the grandparents, or on holiday, the G2G will certainly do the job. As log as you understand its limitations, you won't be disappointed.
© Hishyeness 2011