Once your baby is on the move, it’s time to childproof your home. One easy way to address safety issues is by using baby gates. Gating in certain areas of your home will keep little ones away from potential dangers while allowing you to keep an eye on them at all times.
The same goes for your furry friends. Baby gates also are a convenient way to contain pets, especially when leaving them home alone.
There’s nothing more frustrating than a gate that is hard to install and even harder to open, so it’s important to do your research before making a purchase. Read on to learn about the types available and get shopping tips to help you find the best baby gate for your needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Toddleroo by North States Easy Close Baby Gate
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Regalo Easy Fit Plastic Adjustable Baby Gate
- BEST FOR STAIRS: Cardinal Gates Stairway Angle Baby Gate
- BEST RETRACTABLE: EasyBaby Indoor Outdoor Retractable Gate
- BEST SUPER WIDE: Regalo 192-Inch Super Wide Baby Gate and Play Yard
- BEST TALL: Summer Extra Tall & Wide Safety Baby Gate
- BEST WITH PET DOOR: Carlson Extra Tall Walk Through Pet Gate with Door
- BEST MODERN: Munchkin Loft Hardware Mounted Baby Gate
- BEST FARMHOUSE: Summer West End Safety Baby Gate, Honey Oak
- BEST SEE-THROUGH: Heele 29.5” Auto Close Safety Baby Gate
Types of Baby Gates
When you want to contain a wee wanderer or even a new puppy, you’ll want a gate that can be securely installed to keep little ones from escaping. One of the factors to weigh when choosing a gate is where in your home you want to place it. Various mounting systems work well for different locations. These are the three types available:
Well suited for spots where you want to keep gates up for an extended time, hardware-mounted options can be bolted to doorway frames and walls. When installed properly, these selections are more secure than pressure-mounted gates, so they can be useful at the top of stairways, where safety is an ongoing concern. Make sure to screw the gate into a stud in the wall or use anchors with the screws for added security. It is easy to remove these gates once your child is grown, though you might be left with a few screw holes to patch.
This type of baby gate is secured by creating pressure on opposing walls through an expandable spring system. The pressure mounts are generally made of rubber to protect walls and doorframes. This type of gate is ideal for doorways and areas that you want to temporarily section off. Pressure-mounted gates also come in portable options when you want to contain your tiny crawler or cruiser while visiting friends or on vacation. Again, this type of gate is not recommended at the top of stairs, so choose a more secure option for those high spots.
This option is a great solution for stairs with banisters, allowing the gate to be installed from banister to banister or banister to wall. This type of gate mount is usually secured to either round or square banisters with security straps and brackets. Retractable versions that secure in this way might be helpful when your stairway doesn’t fit standard sizes. This type of mounting set also sells as an adapter for previously purchased gates. Make sure to check whether your gate is compatible with the set before making a purchase.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Baby Gate
To find the best baby gate for your home, you’ll want to think about where you hope to use it and what style you want as well as some important installation and safety considerations. Learn about these and other important shopping tips as you decide which gate to purchase.
The first thing to consider when shopping for a baby gate is where you want to put it. The planned location of your gate plays a large part in the type you choose. As mentioned, the best gates for the top of the stairs mount securely with hardware. Hardware-mounted options also work well in spots in which you know you want a gate to remain for a long time. For varying size openings, indoors and out, move pressure-mounted options around for convenience and take them down once the little ones are asleep. When your opening is wider than typical doorways, extra-wide versions and retractable gates can often accommodate larger spans. If you’re looking for a gate you can take with you to grandma and grandpa’s or on vacation, opt for lighter-weight portable versions.
Material and Design
Baby gates come in a variety of materials, including wood, metal, mesh, and plastic. Choose one that is made well and suits your décor. Opt for nontoxic finishes and options without sharp or small pieces that your baby could get either hands or mouth on.
Though baby gates might not be the ideal addition to your décor, you’ll most likely want to consider style since they’ll be up for a fairly long time. Choosing gates that blend with your décor will help detract attention from them. If you’re opting for wood, select finishes similar to others in your living space. If your walls are white, a white gate will blend better with its surroundings. If you want a hardware-mounted option that doesn’t have to remain closed all day, consider retractable ones that roll back when not in use for a less-obtrusive look.
The minimum height of an installed baby gate is 22 inches, but available options range up to 40 inches high. Make sure to choose one that is at least three-quarters of your child’s height. Lower height options (around 20 inches) are available for step-over gates, which are usually freestanding and used for pets or young infants. However, most injuries from gates come from parents tripping over them, so make sure to consider who lives in your home and avoid this type of gate with elderly residents.
If you’re looking to gate in a large dog, or your child is tall or especially acrobatic, options higher than 36 inches are the way to go. When your child is able to climb over easily, it’s time to remove your gate or select a taller one.
When it comes to gate doors, consider a few different types. First, estimate how much foot traffic the area gets and how much accessibility to the space you need. Swing-through doors are common and will swing either one or both ways to open. When installing this type of gate at the top of stairs, make sure it swings over the landing instead of the stairs to avoid youngsters taking a ride.
A step-over gate doesn’t actually have a door. It’s usually freestanding and requires stepping over. Portable pressure-mounted options will require removal when moving through the doorway. Retractable options feature a mesh surface that rolls out and clips onto hardware installed on the wall. Pet doors are another special feature found in some gates. These openings swing out from the bottom of the gate to accommodate small dogs and cats. To avoid injury to curious kitty-seeking toddlers, they need to remain locked at most times.
A gate with a poor locking function can be unsafe and frustrating to operate. There are a wide variety of locking mechanisms available today, but some are easier to use than others. Self-closing, auto-lock gates help to keep the door closed even if your hands are full.
A common gate mechanism is a dual-action latch, which requires the user to push down to release it, which adults usually can do with one hand. A little more difficult to use, a squeezing latch mechanism opens by compressing parts of the gate to release it. Users can lift a pressure-release handle with one hand to open the gate. There are even some models that use a foot pedal to release the latch. As an added bonus, some gates feature a visual or audio indicator to let you know if the gate is fully locked, but it’s still a good idea to double-check it.
While shopping, you might notice that some gates are labeled as having the JPMA Certification Seal. JPMA stands for Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, a group that works to make sure baby and child products meet set standards for safety and performance. The certification is awarded to products that have been tested at an independent laboratory and found to meet government requirements based on safety and use. When it comes to baby gates, this certification considers the size of openings, height, vertical strength, bottom spacing, configuration of the uppermost edge, and label warnings as well as a 10-pound push test for safety.
Ease of Installation
A baby gate shouldn’t take multiple hours to install, but it is important to take your time and read all the instructions before beginning. Hardware-mounted options for standard and retractable gates will require the most work, usually consisting of screwing brackets into the wall or doorframe. Especially when installing at the top of the stairs, make sure you screw the hardware into a stud in the wall or use anchors to support the screws. If you don’t have a stud, consider framing out the doorway so your gate can be secured to solid wood. Some banister-mounted options will require mounting one side to the wall, while the other attaches to the banister by security straps. Pressure-mounted options can be secured in place easily by fitting the gate and pushing down on a lever or sliding over a locking mechanism.
Our Top Picks
The best baby gates will keep your baby safe while also being simple to install and easy to operate. Though it may not be the most stylish item in your home, a streamlined, simple look or retractable design won’t detract from your décor. These top picks were chosen for their functionality, style, and ease of use. Consider one of the following choices when shopping for baby gates.
The pressure-mounted Toddleroo by North States 38.5” Easy Close Baby Gate secures easily with tension knobs that, when extended, hold the gate in place. The door swings in both directions and will automatically shut and lock behind you. For added security, you can activate a manual triple latch. In addition, use the gate’s hold-open feature to keep the door open for foot traffic or when your baby is napping.
This gate works well in doorways or at the bottom of stairs, and no tools are needed for installation. Two included extensions allow coverage for openings from 28 to 38.5 inches wide. For larger doorways, you can purchase additional extensions separately. At 29 inches high, this gate will keep little climbers at bay.
The affordable Regalo Easy Fit Plastic Adjustable Baby Gate works well in doorways, hallways, or at the bottom of stairs. The gate stands 23 inches tall and will work with openings between 28 and 42 inches wide. With its patented Easy Fit system, installation is quick and simple with a straightforward slide and twist. With an all-steel locking system that keeps it safely secured, the gate is sturdier than many portable gates. The soft rubber pressure-mount design reduces damage to walls. Made from plastic and weighing only 4 pounds, this affordable gate is easy to transport.
With the Cardinal Gates Stairway Angle Baby Gate, a one-hand latch system offers an easy-open mechanism for adults while maintaining safety for toddlers. Unlike other hardware-mounted gates, this one can be installed at up to a 30-degree angle, which offers flexibility when locating a stud for mounting safety. The gate width is adjustable from 27 to 42.5 inches, with extensions sold separately. Installed, it has a height of 29.5 inches. Banister clamps also sell separately for installation between a wall and banister.
This gate is constructed of lightweight aluminum and available in either black or white. It is rust-proof for use outdoors, but the company suggests purchasing the stainless steel hardware pack sold separately.
A hardware mounting system allows the EasyBaby Products Indoor Outdoor Retractable Gate to be installed at the bottom of stairways or in doorways and hallways. For an easy installation, it includes stainless steel screws, catch mounts, wall spacers, and guide templates. For frequent daily use, push and turn the knob clockwise to unlock the gate and hook the mesh screen onto top and bottom catches. Turn the knob again to lock it.
The gate stands 33 inches tall and can fit openings up to 55 inches wide, so this is a good choice for wider doorways and spaces you want left open when not in use. It is available in black, gray, and white to blend with your décor.
The Regalo 192-Inch Super Wide Adjustable Baby Gate comes with eight, 24-inch panels that connect to hinged posts to offer a variety of shaping possibilities in large openings. For example, it can serve as a fireplace barrier or span a stair landing. As an added bonus, the large gate also converts into an 8-panel play yard.
The all-steel components and a hardware-mounting system keep the gate safely secured once installed. A walk-through door designed with a double-lock, lever handle allows adults to easily pass through.
The Summer Extra Tall and Wide Safety Baby Gate offers height and the flexibility of either a hardware or pressure-mounted installation. Opt for a hardware mount at the top of stairways or use the no-drill mount in doorways. At the top of stairs, its 38-inch height feels more secure than shorter gates and a built-in stopper prevents the gate from swinging out over the stairs.
The metal frame gate will fit openings from 29.5 inches to 53 inches wide with the use of the three included extension frames. An auto-close feature keeps the gate closed and a hold-open mechanism keeps it open when your hands are full. It is available in four colors and shorter widths for smaller doorways.
This Carlson Extra Tall Walk Through Pet Gate with Door stands 36 inches tall and can fit openings between 29 and 36.5 inches wide with an included 4-inch wide extension kit. A patented small pet door measures 8 by 8 inches and includes a locking mechanism to keep curious toddlers from following their furry friends. The pressure-mounted design is quick to set up and gentle on walls. The all-steel frame is durable and features a walk-through door with an easy-close door mechanism and safety lock. The purchase includes wall mounts for optional added security. Use this tall gate to protect jumping dogs and curious toddlers.
The aluminum Munchkin Loft Hardware Mounted Baby Gate is chock full of features to make it functional and safe, plus it looks good. A sleek, contemporary silver finish coats the aluminum slats. The company’s special Indexed Sizing System adjusts the fit when walls aren’t level, and their Integrated Tuning System allows it to be retracted or extended easily with preset positions. It stands 30.5 inches tall and fits openings 26.5 to 40 inches wide. The door swings in both directions with a double-locking system on the handle. With a quick-release wall mount, the gate is easy to install and remove.
The wood and metal frame of the Summer West End Safety Baby Gate can coordinate with a range of interior styles. A natural oak-stained door sits within a slate metal frame creating a sleek and simple look for an unobtrusive barrier. The walk-through wooden door has a hold-open feature, an integrated handle for adult convenience, and two built-in door stoppers for child safety.
The gate stands 30 inches tall and can accommodate doorways from 36 to 60 inches wide. The gate comes with a choice of hardware-mounted installation for stairways or a no-drill doorway mount for easier doorway locations.
For children and pets, the Heele 29.5” Auto Close Safety Baby Gate includes a metal mesh walk-through door that both baby and parent can see through. The gate measures 30 inches high and can adjust to fit openings between 29.5 and 40.5 inches wide with included extensions. A slide and lift latch opens the door, which can swing both ways and is wide enough to accommodate a stroller. An auto-close mechanism will shut the door behind you and a safety dual-locking handle will keep it secured. If an adult pushes the gate open further than 90 degrees, it will conveniently stay open.
The gate comes with both pressure- and hardware-mounting installation options. Four wall cups can be screwed into the wall for added security at the top of the stairs. A larger version for doorways up to 51.5 inches is available as well.
FAQs About Your New Baby Gate
You might still be wondering how to choose and install your gate, and whether you need one for both the top and bottom of the stairs. Get the answer to these and other commonly asked questions about baby gates.
Q. How do I choose a baby gate?
When choosing a baby gate, first consider where you hope to use it. This will help determine which mounting system and style will work best for your home.
Q. Do you need baby gates at both the top and bottom of stairs?
Having a baby gate at both the top and bottom of the stairs is helpful for keeping babies from both climbing and descending steps before they are ready.
Q. What age should stair gates be removed?
Baby gates should be removed when children reach about two years old or when your little ones can unlatch or climb over them. Taller versions might work longer.
Q. How do you install a baby gate?
A baby gate can be installed in one of three ways:
- Bolt a hardware-mounted gate to doorway frames and walls.
- Secure pressure-mounted gates by placing pressure on opposing walls through an expandable spring system.
- Banister-mounted options use straps and latches to secure the gate to a banister.