Safety barriers – baby gates, playpens and portacots

Safety barriers like baby gates, play yards and portacots help keep kids safe, but they can also pose risks if they're poor quality or used incorrectly.

What you need to know

  • Children can get stuck in gaps. The safest gap size is between 50mm and 95mm wide — gaps of 30mm to 50mm can trap arms and legs and gaps between 85mm and 95mm can trap a baby's head.
  • Kids can climb over and fall if a barrier is too low or has horizontal bars.
  • Portable cots and play-yards are not as sturdy as standard cots. They're designed for convenient, but not constant, use.

What you need to do

  • Safety barriers and baby gates

    Before you buy a safety barrier

    When buying a safety barrier, look for:

    • information indicating compliance with a British Standard (BS), American Standard (ASTM or CFR), European Standard (EN) or Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS)
    • manufacturer's instructions for installation and use
    • edges that are smooth and rounded
    • spaces between the vertical bars in the barrier that are between 50mm and 95mm wide
    • height of at least 750mm from the floor
    • features that could provide footholds — such as locks and horizontal bars — your child could use these to climb out.

    Using safety barriers

    • Fit the barrier to the manufacturer's instructions.
    • Make sure it is held securely in the doorway or passage.
    • Check regularly that it's firmly in position.
    • Be alert — even if you have safety barriers.
  • Portacots and play-yards

    We recommend that when a baby will be left unsupervised, especially overnight, the cot or other sleeping environment complies with an Australian/New Zealand Standard.

    • All children’s furniture wears out over time — repair or replace at the first sign of wear.
    • Use the mattress supplied by the manufacturer — using a substitute can create a safety hazard.
    • Make sure the mattress fits snugly — there must be no more than 25mm gap between the mattress and the side of the cot.
    • Check regularly for holes in the fabric or loose catches — repair or replace at the first sign of wear.

    Before you buy a portable cot or play-yard

    • Ask the shop assistant to show you how to fold and put it up.
    • Make sure the catches lock firmly.
    • Check that the mattress fits snugly.
    • Does it have a removable base? If so, check that the base can be firmly secured.
    • Does it have bars? If so, check that the space between bars is 50mm to 85mm.
    • Ask the shop assistant if the product complies with a safety standard.
    • Keep the receipt of purchase. Under the Consumer Guarantees Act your purchase must be of acceptable quality, last a reasonable time, and be safe.

    Using your portable cot or play-yard

    • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
    • Make sure any locks and catches are firmly in place.
    • Make sure the base can't move apart or fall down and the mattress fits snugly.

If you have a safety problem or concern

If you have some concerns about the safety of a product or if you’re injured by a product, you should tell the retailer or supplier about it.

You also have the right to ask for a remedy such as a refund, replacement, or repair under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). One of the guarantees in the CGA is that products must be of acceptable quality, and this includes that the product is safe.

Faulty products – Consumer Protection(external link)

In addition, it’s good to report the details to us – product safety reports from the public help government agencies to identify systemic issues and help us to prioritise and respond to issues.

Report an unsafe product