Shout out to all of the fellow mobile baby and toddler owners out there! Those little guys are fast, aren’t they? As much as I really think it’s pretty fun to follow Jack around the house while he climbs all over everything, some times it’s nice to have a break and be able to just sit down with him and play in one room without him taking off every 1.7 seconds. We like this to be our living room, but unfortunately, the opening into the dining room beside is really big and just doesn’t work with regular baby gates. A couple of months ago, Chris came up with a solution that works really well. It’s not only sturdy and effective at caging in our little wild animal, it’s also pretty too! So here he is with his tutorial for the baby gate made from an old crib!
A few weeks ago we posted a Christmas Home Tour to showcase the Christmas decor around our house. As is common here at The Creek Line House, at least one picture inadvertently revealed a little of our ‘reality’, that is, reality of life with 2 young children. Let’s play spot the baby gate:
Luckily this time, our reality generated a little interest and we received a few requests on how we salvage-DIYed our baby gate to cover such a large opening. This is a tough one to put into words and the success of the project – as with most salvage projects – is incredibly reliant on your access to the appropriate recycled components, but let’s give it a shot anyway:
For our DIY baby gate we used the 2 long identical sides from an old disassembled crib. These particular parts worked well for 2 main reasons. First, the upper and lower rails were very close to square and secondly, the spindles were not wider than these upper and lower rails.
(These are the ideal dimensional consistencies to work with and require no modifications. If the spindles are wider than the rails, the rails will need to be widened using strips of wood or if the rails are round or curved then straight strips of wood would need to be attached.)
For this tutorial I will refer to these as “crib sides” however, you may find other reclaimed materials that meet the above criteria regardless of their use in a previous life.
For our project we used the following hardware:
4 appropriately sized “L” brackets (we used 1.5″ x 1.5″). Size needs to be at least 1.5 times the width of the top rail and no more than double.
2 appropriately sized “U” bolts (we used 2″x 5″). Sizing here is tricky and may require a trial and error approach so buy and few and save your receipt.
Finally, replace the regular nuts that come with the u-bolt with wing-nuts.
If you’re lucky enough to be working with similar materials to what we had, assembly is super easy. First step will be to mark the area on each crib side where they are likely to overlap when in use.
Next, attach the l-brackets comfortably within the marked area on one of the crib sides; 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom. The brackets will sit flat on the top rail and bend down and flat on the bottom rail and bend up. Offset the bracket so the gap between the bracket and the side of the rail is the correct size to receive the other crib side.
Using the channel you’ve created using the l-brackets, slide the 2 crib sides together and place loosely in the opening.
Now for the (sorta, maybe, huh?!?) tricky part: the u-bolts which will provide the tension that holds the baby gate in place. The u-bolts are used to push each crib side outward towards each side of the opening. We do this by installing them around 2 spindles, one from each crib side so when tightened, the crib sides slide in opposite directions within the channel we created using the l-brackets. Make sure you select to spindles that, when pulled together will push the crib sides out rather than in.
As you can see in the picture, our u-bolts are wrapped around 1 spindle from each crib side. When tightened, the tension will draw the 2 spindles together, pushing the sides outwards in the direction of the arrows safely securing the baby gate in place.
This is where the trial and error may come into play. Once you have the gate in the opening and you start to attach the ‘first attempt’ u-bolt, you will quickly see if that particular size will work and if not, what changes are needed for successful installation.
If everything works correctly, you’re now able to place the gate in the opening and lock in place by tightening the wing-nuts and later remove the gate by loosing the wing-nuts.
So that’s it. Hopefully you found this easier to understand than it was to explain.
Courtenay here: Thanks, Chris! I have 2 notes that I want to add. First, make sure that the scratchy ends of the U bolts are on the outside of the baby gate, not the side where the baby will be hanging out. Secondly, if you want to make your gate a little prettier, go ahead and spray paint the hardware before you install it. I would use an oil rubbed bronze or a color that matches your crib. We didn’t though because honestly, at this point, as long as it works we’re happy!
Hope you found this helpful if you have a large opening you need to block off!
Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.