The First Years Hands Free Gate Review

Updated March 31, 2013
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The First Years Hands Free Gate

The First Years Hands Free Gate has a foot-operated pedal that will open for an adult's weight but not for a child's. Parents say this gate is a must for high traffic areas that parents have to navigate with their hands full. Owners say this metal gate is sturdy and reliable, but they warn that you may have to tune up the tension and that the pressure mounts can peel paint off walls.

SafetyProsOpens with foot pedal, Sturdy metal construction, Swings closed with an audible clickConsPressure mounts may damage walls/paint, Gate may need regular adjustments, Plastic foot pedal may break

Unlike many gates that lock at the top, the Hands Free Gate's main lock is on the bottom near the foot pedal. This design makes it nearly impossible for fingers to get pinched during opening and closing. A couple of parents report that the top of the gate is less secure than the bottom, but this doesn't affect the gate's overall security. The gate can be kicked closed, and users say it clicks audibly to indicate a secure latch.

The Hands Free Gate is pressure-mounted, making it an appropriate choice for between doorways and the bottom of stairways, but not for the top of stairs or where falling is a hazard. Most users say that the pressure mounted installation is sturdy and solid, as long as the pressure mounts are tensioned just right. When the tension is off, the door does not close securely and the gate can be breached by toddlers. The gate features vertical spindles that don't offer climbers a foothold.

Ease Of Use

Look, ma, no hands! The First Years Hands Free Gate's chief selling point is that it's truly hands-free convenience. Owners say that the foot-operated pedal means that they are willing to use it more consistently.

Many users say that installing the Hands Free Gate is quick and easy. However, some say getting the tension just right can be tricky, particularly if you are using extensions. Some also say that keeping the gate working properly requires regular maintenance. If the tension isn't set correctly, the foot pedal can get stiff and may even break. A too-stiff pedal will also make it harder to close the gate. People who get the tension right say the gate operates flawlessly. Some also say that the mechanism on the gate is too loud. Others appreciate this feature, saying it alerts them when the gate is in use.

Finally, the Hands Free Gate pressure mounts are spongy, and some say that they can peel away paint and even pull off drywall when the gate is removed after its been in place for a while. Inventive parents work around this issue by placing protective silicone, waxed or parchment paper, or other materials between the pressure mounts and the walls.

Specialty Features

A basic gate with optional extensions. The First Years Hands Free Gate is a basic white metal gate, but most parents say it blends in well. The basic gate comes with one extension that can fit in an opening of 29 inches to 34 inches. An additional 5-inch extension is available as an optional purchase (*Est. $16) to increase the width to 39 inches. It comes with a 90-day warranty.

Our Sources

1. BabyCenter.com

The Best Safety Gates, Editors of BabyCenter.com, Not dated

Review Credibility: Excellent BabyCenter.com includes their six favorite safety gates in this roundup article. The picks are based on parent reviews from the BabyCenter.com blog and from other reviews on the web, as well as the editors' own experiences as parents. The First Years Hands Free gate is lauded for its ease of use, particularly the fact that you can open it easily even with both arms loaded. They warn that the door opening may be too narrow for parents carrying a child and that the pressure mounted gate cannot be used at the top of stairs.

2. Parenting.com

11 Best Baby Health and Safety Products, Jennifer Kelly Geddes, Not dated

Review Credibility: Excellent This roundup includes 11 items recommended for baby-proofing your household, including baby gates, outlet covers, baby care items and window guards. There is no comparison among products, but the reviews highlight why this safety product is a must-have for protecting your baby. The First Years Hands Free gate is lauded for its "genius" design that allows you to open it even when your hands are full.

3. Amazon.com

The First Years Hands Free Gate, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2013

Review Credibility: Excellent The First Years Hands Free Gate earns an overall rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 in more than 800 reviews. Owners like the gate's hands free convenience. It's particularly popular for blocking off kitchens and other high traffic areas where the adults often have their hands full. A few users mention that the opening is small but workable. There are complaints about the plastic foot pedal being hard to activate or breaking.

4. Buzzillions.com

The First Years Hands Free Gate, Contributors to Buzzillions.com, As of May2013

Review Credibility: Very Good The First Years Hands Free gate has more than 300 reviews on Buzzillions.com, earning an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. Users say it is durable, easy to use and well built. The gate is described as lightweight and compact. A handful of reviewers say that it is difficult to use or doesn't always work.

5. Target.com

The First Years Hands-Free Gate, Contributors to Target.com, As of May 2013

Review Credibility: Very Good In more than 80 reviews, the First Years Hands Free Gate earns an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. The majority say that the gate is easy to use, thanks to its hands-free pedal and bidirectional door. They also like its quality construction and say it's a good value. Some say that installation is tricky but doable.

6. About.com

Top 4 Safety Gates, Catherine Roseberry, Not dated

Review Credibility: Fair Written by former About.com guide Catherine Roseberry, this roundup includes four safety gates to bar home offices from little children. The reviews are extremely brief and not comparative. Roseberry recommends the First Years Hand Free gate because it can be opened, even if your hands are full with a child or work.