Two Thirds Of Child Stair Gates Fail Safety Tests, Investigation Finds

One stair gate has since been withdrawn from sale.

Eight stair gates have failed Which’s safety testing, exposing a risk for toddlers and children who have the products in their homes.

In total, 12 stair gates underwent a series of tests that form the EU standard – known as the “impact resistance test” and the “fatigue test”. Six failed the impact test and three failed the fatigue one. One stair gate, the Mothercare Wooden Wall Fix, failed both tests – and has now been withdrawn from sale.

“It’s deeply concerning that so many stair gates have failed our testing,” said Natalie Hitchins, Which head of home products and services. “The safety of children should be the number one priority, but too many are being put at an unacceptable level of risk.

“Manufacturers must take these results seriously and recall the products if they cannot guarantee their safety.”

The “impact resistance test” replicates the actions of a child shoving or kicking the gate by hitting a 10kg weight against different points of the product. Any gate that moves more than 25mm from its starting point fails the test.

The Mothercare Wooden Wall Fix and the Cuggl Wooden Extending could both withstand just one impact before they failed. The Cuggl Auto Close failed after two impacts.

The “fatigue test” is designed to mimic the actions of a toddler or child shaking and rattling the gate over time. It involves a mechanical arm being clamped to the top of the gate and it being pulled back and forth 10,000 times. A gate fails if it moves more than 25mm from the starting point.

It took 417 shakes before the Lindam Sure Shut Orto failed. The figure was 1,456 for Dreambaby Chelsea and 2,134 for BabyDan Perfect Close. The Mothercare Wooden Wall Fix failed after 6,738 attempts.

Some of the stair gates that failed testing have the option of being secured to the wall using screws as well as sticky adhesive pads. When Which tested the BabyDan Perfect Close, Dreambaby Chelsea and Dreambaby Liberty with the wall cups screwed into the walls – rather than just the adhesive pads – the gates passed the fatigue test.

Which is advising people with these safety gates to secure theirs in this way if possible, and to stop using if not. “Manufacturers must investigate why these gates failed the testing, with a view to recalling the products until a fix is established for the fault,” the consumer site stated.

The findings of the investigation will be reported to Trading Standards and the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).

What did the companies have to say?

BabyDan: “At BabyDan we take feedback about our safety products seriously, as safety of children is paramount to us. We manufacture to the highest possible standards. All our safety gates comply to the relevant safety standards (in this case EN1930:2011). The safety gates mentioned in your publication have been tested recently by accredited labs numerous times without any remarks.”

Dreambaby: “Tee-Zed Products, maker of Dreambaby gates, does not accept Which’s test results and considers them invalid. They are contrary to testing we have regularly conducted with accredited test laboratories. Our testing used adhesive only on the mounting cups. To further increase the security of our gates, the instructions for our gates will now state to use both adhesive and screws.”

Cuggl: “All our products have to meet high safety standards and are regularly tested. No issues with these products have been identified but we are investigating these results with our supplier.”

Lindam: Munchkin, the company that owns Lindam, told Which that consumer safety is paramount to its values as a company and it is dedicated to providing safe, top-quality products. They say that the Lindam Sure Shut Orto complies with all applicable standards including EN1930. Munchkin continuously monitors customer feedback and state that they have not encountered any complaints of the gate dislodging while in use. They will continue to monitor and audit their products to ensure they meet and/or exceed safety and customer expectations.

Mothercare: “The safety of our customers and their children is our highest priority so, as a precaution, we have removed the stair gate from sale while we conduct further investigations and independent testing. We would like to reassure our customers that the stair gate complies with the required safety regulations and has passed all safety testing - BS EN1930:2011. We have asked to see a copy of the full Which report and the tests conducted in order that we can fully investigate the findings.”