Picture of How to build a Safe and Strong Baby Gate
Like a lot of parents, our house if FULL of baby gates. We have one in practically every doorway, hallway and entrance. One of the things that my wife and I found out early is that baby gates are EXPENSIVE if you want quality (around $75 to $100 per gate). When you add to the fact that you need 4-10 of these things, the costs can be enormous. We purchased a few of the ¼” wooden varieties only to have my 3 year old stand on it and bust it to shards.

Since I had built my Toddler Bed Guard out of PVC, I chose to do something similar for a baby gate. This would also apply nicely to someone who needs a pet gate.

This particular model is pretty simple and uses just PVC components to work. There are two ‘Slip Tees’ in the structure that allow the gate to slide vertically, just slightly so that you can lift it up and over the ‘Table Caps’ that it will snap into. Once over the Table Caps, just press down and it is as secure as can be.

Now, before you child-safety advocates turn on me, here are a few notes about this design:
  1. It’s made from furniture grade PVC and fittings, obtained from formufit.com, which is non-toxic, contains no dioxins (the nasty stuff they make plumbing PVC with), and is impact and UV-degrade proof (it won’t break down in sunlight).
  2. The slats are all 2-3/4” apart, which is BELOW the required 3” of distance between slates.
  3. It is extremely strong. I can put my entire weight on it (215 lb. male) closed and it will not budge.
  4. All corners and edges are rounded, so no snagging.
  5. There are no pinching mechanisms in the gate once closed.
  6. Finally, this is MY choice to make this for me and my family.  If you detest such a project, dont make it. 
I tried to make it with features that other baby gates incorporate, such as being attached to a wall or door frame, can be removed, and swings. I built each gate for around $48.00.

I plan on augmenting this Instructable to make a baby-corral out of the same thing, but making legs that jut out from each side for stability. Look for that one soon.
Dani6528 days ago

Thanks for the idea. I made one to keep my puppy from running all over the house and using the bathroom other than on his puppy pads. LOL The best part my kitty's can still jump over it and I can step over it. So I didn't make mine to open and close, like I said I just step over it. Thanks again.

TinyTraveller2 months ago

This looks so easy, thanks for the great idea.

LydiaT22 months ago

This looks fantastic! Thank you!!


Amerigo251 year ago

Hi, I don't mean to be a pain, but one of our children is autistic and has broken every gate we have purchased (which is many). Last week he got into the laundry room and ingested some laundry items that he shouldn't have :(

I have found someone that is willing to make these gates for us, but I'm not sure what materials to buy exactly for our size doors (I am not good at figuring this type of stuff out).

We would like all the gates to be 3.5' tall and the widths of the doorways that we need gates for are:

bedroom: 30" living room: 48" family room: 35.75" basement: 44" laundry: 31"

The family room, basement, and laundry gates are needed the most. The others would just be nice to have and will probably be needed later on.

I doubt PVC will be strong enough because he/she can break other types of gates best option I think is big heavy wooden ones, PVC is only strong to a certain point Toddlers could break the PVC ones easily and older children can do more damage all in all I think wood is the best way. Sorry if I've gone on and on about anything I've had difficulty wording it all

lschwartz1 year ago
What is missing from all the compliments about the gate is the quality of the instructible itself. Your pictures and wording are EXCELLENT. I too am past the baby gate age, but I would have definitely built a few of these. Thanks for doing such a great job!
tfliew1 year ago
alex24372 years ago
I am a beginner at sketchup and have watched the videos at formufit about handles but I can't seem to get all these fittings to line up. Do you have any tips or a way to know every piece that you move is inside a component.

Sorry for the newbie question but I want to build this for my dog this weekend
3366carlos2 years ago
nice, how do i build the swing open version? can u provide more details? what type of hinges.
cstadler2 years ago
Hi- two questions:
1. I am considering building this to span a 60" arch in our apartment. Do you think it will be wobbly at that length?
2. Since I would be doubling the number of 3" pieces and am lazy, do you think I could use slip-tees across the top and bottom? The screws would keep them from sliding left-right.
CJSudduth2 years ago
This would be great for a dog gate too.... Also I see a lot of baby beds ... how about with the right tools and design if you could put them together to keep dogs/children in designated areas ...like a large playpen... lol.. just a idea..
ademing4 years ago
PVC is extremely toxic to babies and babies tend to "mouth" their baby gates.
If you read the instructions, he addresses the toxicity issues. The type of pipe he recommends contains no 'dioxins'
trevormates (author)  dspitzmueller4 years ago
You are correct sir. Furniture grade PVC actually is completely non-toxic. The only way you can cause any harm to you or your children is to physically burn it. But then again, if you burn wool, you release cyanide gas.

Lesson: Don't burn PVC or sheep.
I have a doorway that is a non-standard width, and finding a baby gate that fits has become a challenge. Maybe this gate can be adapted to work for us as well. Thanks for the plans!
jekan7774 years ago
TRANSLTR4 years ago
Very cool. Mine are too old to need one now, but having seen this I might have to make one in copper tube, just for the hell of it.
canida TRANSLTR4 years ago
I see a steampunk baby gate in someone's future...
canida4 years ago
Nicely done! It looks much classier than the standard "baby jail" gates, too.
aeray4 years ago
Good work! Hopefully I won't have to make one for a few years at least. Have you considered developing some kind of tension attachment (to avoid putting screws into the doorjamb)?
trevormates (author)  aeray4 years ago
Ah, yes. There have been many a thought about how not to destroy stair posts and door frames, and I have yet to come up with a solution that would allow this without the top being all wiggly-wobbly. If you think of something. Let me know.
kelseymh4 years ago
That is really awesome. I had no idea that there was "furniture grade" PVC; thanks for the reference. I like the way the finished gate looks with the fancier, finished fittings. It's also great that the swing is bidirectional: you never know what you might have in your hands to keep you from pulling...

One question about the lift catches -- it seems to me that those are theoretically pinch-points. Is the weight of the door (or the friction at the hinge fittings) sufficient that your toddler can't lift it?

In the intro, we can still see the left over attachments for whatever cheap-a** over-priced gate you had there before :-)
trevormates (author)  kelseymh4 years ago
The lift catches are potential pinch points, but the rounding off the pipe using a internal domed and cap at the end and the sanding/rouding of the table cap are essential to reduce this.

One of the gates that we had in place prior to my 'implementation' had the same setup: a bar came out from the gate and set into an indentation in a wall fixture, and then had a little plastic bit that hovered over it, so this solution is already being used by gate manufactuerers. At least thats my excuse.

The gate is heavy enough for a toddler to not be able to lift, and the PVC securely snaps into the table caps, loud enought to make a snap. If I had used 1" PVC, it would be lighter, perhaps light enough for a toddler to lift, thats one of the benefits of the heavier 1-1/4" PVC.

oakback4 years ago
Awesome, I need this. I made a rudimentary gate out of wood. Though very strong, it has horizontal slats, allowing for climbing. Your design would make it extremely difficult to climb.
danielpolly4 years ago
This idea is very useful! You can never know with babies.
omnibot4 years ago
Nice, I'm hanging on to this until it's time for ours.
tbcross4 years ago
very nice! I remember when mine were that age and they destroyed the wooden ones too. Great ible. I'll keep it on file for when the nephew comes to visit next :)