Is "stylish baby gate" an oxymoron? Munchkin doesn't think so and is setting out to prove it with a new line of premium baby safety gates. We had a chance to check them out earlier this summer so we can give you the first-hand scoop.
This past January Munchkin purchased English baby brand Lindam, a leader in the UK safety gate market, and they've built upon Lindam's expertise to release a line of safety gates under the Munchkin label that meet both U.S. and European safety standards. In all, there are eight designs including both pressure and hardware mounted gates. All have double-locking mechanisms and are approved for use throughout the home.
So, what's so exciting or stylish about these new gates? Many of these gates look similar to what's already available on the market, but they have some useful and clever features that may set them apart. However, the Numi gates (pictured in dark wood and aluminum in photos 1 and 2 above), considered the Cadillac of the line, are quite beautiful and probably the first gates we've seen that make a strong, modern aesthetic statement.
Finally we have an answer to one of the most asked questions at Ohdeedoh, "Do stylish baby gates exist?" And we can answer, yes, if you're willing to pay for them. The Numi are the most expensive of the Munchkin line at $130. Besides their handsome looks, they employ an Indexed Sizing System for a perfect fit against walls that aren't perfectly level and an integrated handle adds to the chicness factor. The Deco gate is more affordable at $70 and boasts dark wood and a steel frame as well as a locking mechanism preventing it from opening in a specific direction if you so choose.
The remaining gates don't so much as win style points, but they are feature heavy, the result of many focus group sessions with parents who want the safest and easiest to use gates. One gate we know many parents will like is the Easy Close Tall & Wide gate which is 6" higher than standard gates - an important feature if you have especially tall children, pets you are also trying to contain or happen to be lanky yourself and don't want to stoop each time you use your gate.
We tested all of these gates out in person and were impressed with the attention paid to small details. For example, the patent-pending gravity close hinge on the Auto-Close gate means you don't have to look behind you every time you go through the gate to check and double check that it's really closed. We loved that the hardware-mounted gates have quick release fittings so you can pop them out right before a dinner party so your guests aren't doing the Olympic high hurdles all night long.
The Munchkin line of gates will sell at a variety of price points starting at $45 and most will be under $75. You'll start seeing some of them for sale this month at Babies R Us and Toys R Us and then all of them for sale widely in January 2011.