As soon as your little one becomes mobile, you quickly learn all the places in your home you don't want him to go. Whether you need to keep him from falling down the stairs or just want to keep him from creating a new system of organization in your office area, installing safety gates is an important thing to do for your baby. However, you must do your research to determine which type of gate will best fit your home's safety needs.
Best Retractable Baby Gates
Retractable gates are great for doorways and wide openings in high-traffic areas because they can be left open or closed in seconds with one hand. The use of an internal spring and flexible fabric helps the gate wind up inside a bracket for safe storage when not in use. Retractable gates are also ideal for home daycare providers who only need the safety gate for parts of the day when kids are in attendance.
The JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) certified Retract-A-Gate gives you ultimate flexibility within a uniquely designed baby gate listed by the Good Housekeeping Institute as one of their top six baby gates.
- The mesh gate is 34 inches tall and can be installed in doorways, at the top of the stairs or bottom of the stairs, and even on a diagonal to fit unusual room configurations.
- This retractable gate can span openings up to 72 inches wide and is made in the U.S.A.
- The 52 inch wide version costs about $120 while the 72 inch wide version is just under $150 and both come in cafe, white, or black.
Summer Infant Retractable Gate
While customer reviews can be mixed due to the loud noise associated with retraction, the Summer Infant Retractable Gate comes highly recommended by baby experts at The Bump for its beautiful design and ease of use. It fits doorways and stairs up to 50 inches wide, stands 30 inches tall, and has a decorative look with silver brackets and a black/gray mesh gate so it looks nicer than others. At only $90 this affordable gate is a simple solution for small openings that only need to be closed on specific occasions.
Best Baby Gates for Stairs
While nearly all hardware-mounted gates will work at the top or bottom of stairs, a few have been designed specifically with this dangerous location in mind and are sturdier than pressure-mounted gates when installed properly. For the most security, look for top-rated hardware-mounted gates made for the top of the stairs.
- Make sure you screw the hardware into a stud in the wall or use anchors for the screws to make the gate sturdier.
- If your home cannot accommodate a hardware-mounted gate due to a lack of space or studs, place a hardware-mounted gate in a hallway near the stairs or doorway to keep your baby away from the general vicinity of the stairs.
- While hardware-mounted gates may be moved, they will leave a few screw holes in your walls or woodwork, so make sure you know where you want the gate before you install it.
Cardinal Gates Stairway Special Safety Gate
Cardinal Gates Stairway Special Gate was chosen as the second best gate for stairs based on Mommyhood 101's rigorous tests thanks to a unique locking mechanism that no children could figure out how to open. It may be difficult for adults to open with their non-dominant hand, but a few practice tries are all you need to figure it out. This special gate can be installed at up to a 30-degree angle and used with walls or banisters so it fits even the most difficult stairs. This model comes in your choice of black or white for under $90.
Summer Infant Deluxe Stairway Simple to Secure Wooden Gate
Both Pampers parents and Mommyhood 101 testers agree the Summer Infant Deluxe Stairway Simple to Secure Wooden Gate is top of the line for top of the stairs thanks to its low price tag of around $60 and ease of use. This model looks most like traditional wooden baby gates and is a hardware-mounted gate for stairs. It features an oak wood finish to match moldings and woodwork and an optional swing stop mechanism that prevents the gate from opening over stairs.
Regalo 2-in-1 Stairway and Hallway Gate
For under $50 you can buy the Regalo 2-in-1 Stairway and Hallway Gate to use at the top or bottom of the stairs. Pampers parents love this model because it comes with so many mounting accessories it can fit almost any stairwell opening without leaving marks behind. Mommyhood 101 recommends it because the unique velcro fastening system for banisters won't leave holes in your woodwork.
Kidco Safeway Top of Stair Baby Safety Gate
- The Safeway Gate costs around $60 and comes in your choice of white or black.
- It fits 24 to 42 inch openings and the entire thing swings open.
- For the best use with banisters, purchase the Kidco Stairway Gate Installation Kit which costs about $40 and can be used with any Kidco gate or other hardware mounted gate at the top of stairs without drilling into a banister.
Best Baby Gates for Doorways
Pressure-mounted gates work best for doorways, hallways and as temporary gates. They are also an ideal option when you have woodwork or walls you do not want to damage by screwing in a hardware-mounted gate. While sturdy, a pressure-mounted gate should never be used at the top of stairs. Less expensive pressure-mounted gates require you to slide open or remove the gate whenever you want to go around it. Gates that are more expensive stay in place and feature a door within the gate for you to walk through.
Evenflo Easy Walk-Thru Pressure Mounted Pass-Thru Gate
Evenflo's Easy Walk-Thru Pressure Mounted Pass-Thru Gate costs about $45 and was the 2018 Mom's Pick Best Baby Gate finalist from Babycenter. The simple installation and unique red/green indicator to show whether the gate is locked are what parents love most. The one-hand release mechanism and a swinging door make it easy for parents to use even when carrying small children.
Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco Extra Tall Walk-Thru Baby Gate
For style and function, the Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco Extra Tall Walk-Thru Baby Gate is an attractive and safe hardware-mounted option for only $80. It contains a door within a gate, can be pressure mounted or hardware mounted, is 36 inches tall, and fits doorways up to 48 inches wide. Working Mother lists this beautiful baby gate as their number two overall pick because of the bronze color, arched design, and extra height to protect taller and older kids.
Best Baby Gates for Extra-Wide Openings
Most baby gates are designed to extend to 48 inches, but many of the places you want a baby gate may be wider than that. For those extra-wide hallways or areas between rooms you want to block off, you need an extra-wide baby gate. Look for hardware-mounted baby gates that allow you to purchase extenders to add to their width or find a baby gate that already comes with the extra-width built in.
Evenflo Soft and Wide Baby Gate
Over 5,000 Pamper's parents voted and their top choice for an extra-wide doorway gate is Evenflo Soft 'n Wide Gate.
- It is made of nylon rather than wood, plastic, or metal.
- The wide width makes it an ideal portable gate as well because it can fit most doorways and odd angles wherever you go.
- With over 4 out of 5 stars from Amazon customers, this gate is sturdy and easy to set up with a low cost of only $50.
- This pressure-mounted safety gate fits spaces from 30 to 60 inches wide and the fabric can be removed for washing.
Regalo Extra Widespan or Super Wide
If you look at Amazon's best selling baby gates, you'll find that half of the Top Ten are Regalo brand. Regalo's Extra Widespan Gate is an easy to install pressure-mounted gate that can be attached to multiple extensions to make it fit extremely wide spaces up to 56 inches wide.
- It costs about $60 and features a walk-through door.
- The Regalo Super Wide Adjustable Baby Gate fits spaces up to 192 inches wide and features a doorway within the gate and comes with extenders to make it fit well in all sizes of doorways and hallways.
- The Super Wide costs about $90, but it can also convert to a playard.
Munchkin Easy-Close XL Wide Baby Gate
Munchkin's Easy-Close Extra Tall and Wide Metal Gate has a four out of five star rating by Wayfair customers and comes highly recommended by What Baby Needs List. Parents love the versatility as this gate stands about six inches taller than standard baby gates, can be pressure-mounted or hardware mounted, and fits spaces up to It's designed to accommodate up to three extensions to fit spaces up to 54 inches wide.
Choosing a Baby Gate
When choosing a baby gate, you must keep your needs, desires and baby's safety in mind. Nemours' Kids Health and Consumer Reports suggest looking for baby gates that are approved by the Juvenile Products Manufacturer Association (JPMA). A few other things to keep in mind when choosing a gate include:
- Never put a gate more than two-inches off the floor, otherwise a child could try to crawl underneath.
- Make sure a gate is at least three-fourths of your child's height.
- Choose a gate that locks securely and cannot be opened by children.
- Avoid gates with horizontal bars or that your child can climb.
- Gates with slats more than three-inches apart pose a strangulation risk and should be avoided.
- Measure before you go to the store to make sure you get a baby gate that will fit the space.
Safety First With Baby Gates
Your baby's safety comes first. Take care not to choose a baby gate solely based on how it looks or how cheap it is. Sometimes it is worth compromising your home decor or spending a bit of money to keep your baby safe from things you might not think can harm them. If you have trouble finding and installing a baby gate, call in a professional to help. Proper installation can be a challenge, so use caution and make sure the job gets done right.