Baby gates are just one of those necessities that have to be had when you’ve got a little one running around the home. It seems like everyone and their brother has their own variation however, which makes it hard to figure out how to make ensure that you end up with only the best baby gate. Our personal favorite? We’d go with the Regalo Deluxe Easy Step Extra Tall Gate, it’s a tall, hardware mounted gate with an incredible amount of durability.
Of course, we also had to make sure that we found gates for tight places, wider doorways, and even one to make sure that your child can’t get close to dangerous areas. So let’s look at our top picks and then we’ll make sure that you end up with the baby gate you need to keep your child safe.
All in all, this was the best all around gate we found. It’s sturdy, has dual mounting, and tall enough to keep you kid coralled for quite some time. Add in the perfectly spaced vertical slats and you’ll know you’re in good hands.
Top 5 Baby Gates
|Regalo Deluxe Easy Step Extra Tall Gate||Hardware or Pressure Mount||41”||Check Price|
|Evenflo Easy Walk Thru Top Of Stairs Gate||Hardware Mount||32”||Check Price|
|North States Superyard 3 In 1 Arched Decor Metal||Hardware Mount||30”||Check Price|
|Summer Infant Metal Expansion Gate||Hardware Mount||36”||Check Price|
|Evenflo Soft and Wide Gate||Pressure Mount||27”||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Baby Gate
Regalo Deluxe Easy Step Extra Tall Gate
This is one of the best baby gates on the market. This is a pressure or hardware-mounted gate which stands at an impressive 41” tall. That makes it suitable even for children who are a bit older, and the vertical slats will ensure that none but the most ambitious child attempts to make the climb.
It’s made to fit doorways between 27.5” and 37.5” and also features a one handed opening mechanism that’s too complex for your child to figure out. It’s also certified by the JPMA, an organization which is dedicated to making sure that baby products are safe.
It’s simple to install and holds up well. You can use it with either hardware or with a pressure lock, depending on where you put it. We recommend you wait until our next entry if you’re looking for something to go on the stairs however.
Pros and Cons
- 41” tall
- Fits almost all doorways
- Extremely durable
- Not suitable for the top of stairs
- Some people find the gate section too small
2. Best Baby Gate for Stairs
Evenflo Easy Walk Thru Top Of Stairs Gate
There’s a whole lot to be recommended here, especially if you’re looking to protect your child from the top of the stairs. While it’s not as tall as our favorite, it still stands at 32” tall and has hardware mounting.
It fits quite easily in most stairwells, coming in at 29” to 42” in width depending on what you need. It also opens easily with one hand, although most children who still need a gate aren’t going to be able to open it themselves.
Our favorite part is the indicator. Stair gates are extremely important, and you’ll be able to know immediately if it’s locked or not with a single glance from across the room.
It does require some skill with tools to get installed, but once it’s there you’ll find it’s great. It even lacks the threshold that can become a tripping hazard with other gates.
If you need a gate for the top of your stairs, then this is exactly what you’ve been looking for. It’s not perfect, but with a little bit of thought it can be made into a secure way to keep your child from taking a tumble.
Pros and Cons
- Perfect for the top of stairs
- Indicator so you know it’s locked securely
- 32” tall to prevent older children from climbing
- Hardware mounted for maximum security
- Requires tools to install
- Plastic hardware on walls tends to crack after long periods
3. Best Baby Gate for Fireplaces
North States Superyard 3 In 1 Arched Decor Metal
Whether it’s a fireplace or another dangerous area, sometimes you need to be able to just enclose something to keep your child out. When it comes to area denial for your toddler it’s hard to beat this 30” high hardware-mounted gate.
It’s pretty much infinitely expandable, with panel extensions readily available. The base set comes with six panels, which can enclose up to 10 square feet.
It’s extremely durable and comes with caps to keep it from scratching floors. In addition to that, it’s made of metal and can be easily mounted if you’re using it to protect your child from something like a fireplace instead of using it as a playpen.
It’s also rather expensive, and a bit short for some children, but supervision is really your best protection at any rate.
There’s a lot to be recommended here, the six panels which come with this excellent gate are enough to protect your child or even create an enclosed play area, just remember that with the high-quality materials comes a relatively high cost.
Pros and Cons
- Made entirely of metal
- Hardware mounted
- Can be used as a playpen or to deny access to an area
- Easy to use gate
- Rather expensive
- A bit short
4. Best Extra Wide Baby Gate
Summer Infant Metal Expansion Gate
If you need something extra wide for your home, then the Summer Infant Metal Expansion Gate is your best bet. Even at its smallest, however, it’s a bit too wide to fit within most doorways. Instead, this hardware-mounted gate extends from 44” to 72” which makes it perfect for archways or homes with a relatively open floorplan.
It’s also 36” tall which helps to discourage your child from climbing and possibly hurting themselves. The all vertical slats will make that hard enough to do anyways, which is always a bonus.
The entire thing is made of metal as well, lending it quite a bit of durability and making it a remarkably safe gate to use overall. It’s quite hard to beat it as long as you’ve got somewhere to allow it to be used. Add in the easy, one-handed opening and you’ve got a clear winner when you need to cover a large area.
For those who need an extra wide gate in their home, Summer Infant delivers with this excellent metal gate. It’s just not suitable for your average doorway.
Pros and Cons
- Hardware mounted
- Works great for arches and open floor plans
- Extremely sturdy construction
- 36” tall
- Too wide for regular doorways
- Latch mechanism is made of plastic
5. Best Retractable Baby Gate
Evenflo Soft and Wide Gate
While they’re not the sturdiest, retractable baby gates have a definite place in many people’s homes. We wouldn’t recommend relying on them, but this 27” high pressure mounted gate is just the thing for temporary denial to an area while your child is under supervision.
It’s also quite cost efficient, coming in at a lower price than many of the competitors. This is one is made of cloth, but it expands from 38” to 60” in width which makes it suitable for a wide range of different areas.
There are no tools required for it’s installation, simply expand it to fit the doorway or arch that you’re putting it under and you’ll be good to go. It adds quite a bit of versatility, although we wouldn’t recommend it for crucial areas like stairs.
It’s fairly sturdy, resists staining, and it’s machine washable just in case the worst does happen. All of that adds up to quite a bargain.
If you’re looking for a retractable baby gate for temporary use in different areas in the home, then Evenflo has you covered with this excellent gate.
Pros and Cons
- Super easy to install
- Expands over a wide area
- Machine washable cloth construction
- Can be moved around the house
- Not the most secure option
- Have to step over it since there’s no opening gate
Why Use a Baby Gate?
You can’t babyproof your whole home at all times.
That’s the biggest reason we recommend making sure you have a quality baby gate.
Quality is important here: there are numerous cases of injuries associated with the use of baby gates, which is unfortunate for a safety device. Nearly all of these can be traced back to a couple of causes we’ll cover in a moment, but pediatricians still recommend their use for children between 6 months and 2 years of age.
With a proper gate, you can help to prevent injuries. Whether they’re mounted to prevent a tumble down the stairs or you just need the little one out of the kitchen while you’re running in circles cooking they can be extremely handy.
So, Which Gates Are Safe?
No one’s house is exactly like anyone else’s, and proper installation can make all of the difference at the end of the day.
Most of the injuries which occur when these gates are in use occur at the top of the stairs. This is actually one of the most common injuries toddlers suffer from in general, so it’s not all that surprising.
For that reason, it’s imperative that you don’t use pressure locked gates at the top of stairs. They’re simply not strong enough to be 100% secure in such a dangerous area, you’re much better off making sure that you use a hardware installation model to prevent accidents.
Pressure gates in general should be avoided in any crucial area. They’re a lot cheaper and easier to use, and we definitely understand the temptation but really they should only be used as an imperfect way to prevent a child’s access to an area for a short period of time.
When your child gets older, however, the injuries shift to cuts and bruises. For that reason we recommend that if you’re still trying to prevent access to a child over two years of age that you avoid gates with holes in them and other easy things to climb with.
Most of these injuries occur during climbing, either a child gets trapped in a hole and gets bruised or they hit on the plastic or metal the wrong way and suffer a cut. This means that low-quality gates with holes are pretty much a no-go, especially as your children get older.
For safety purposes, we recommend the following:
- Never use pressure locked gates for crucial areas like the top of the stairs.
- Always use a gate with evenly spaced, vertical slats instead of cheaper plastic models with holes or slits in them.
- For any mesh gates, look for small openings to make sure that a child’s foot can’t fit in them.
- Never trust even the best gate 100%, always keep an eye on your child.
What Type of Baby Gates Are Available?
There are a few different types of gates to be aware of before you make a final choice. Each is best suited for a particular type of area-denial for your child and making the right choice really can make all the difference at the end of the day.
Pressure gates are alright for some uses, although they’re not nearly as secure as hardware gates. For the most part, they’ll have an spring loaded device which allows you to place them in a regular sized doorway and they’ll then push against the sides.
The problem is that they’re not that secure, and bigger children can easily push them over or, even worse, they can fall down with the gate if they try to climb it.
On the other hand, for denying entry while you’re in the room they’re quick and easy to set up and they’re also portable enough you can use them in hotel rooms or a relative’s home as long as you keep a sharp eye out.
Hardware-mounted baby gates are really the best way to go, although they’re much more time consuming to install and often more expensive.
They’re pretty much required for the tops of stairs. Make sure that the gate swings towards the landing, instead of over the stairs in order to further increase the safety of the gate.
They also leave screw holes when you’re done, but a bit of mud and paint will fix that right up.
These are undoubtedly the most secure way to go, and the only thing we can really recommend for placing at the top of stairs. Just make sure that it will both fit and attach to the type of railing and wall that you have in order to get the most usage out of it.
Retractable baby gates are pretty cool overall. They’ll allow you the full usage of your doorway by retracting like a pull down shade.
They can also fit a lot of different types and sizes of doorways. Some of our reviewers even noted that if extra kits are available you can place the mounting in different areas and easily move the gate around your home.
They’re also quite expensive, and we don’t know if we’d trust them at the top of the stairs.
Extra Wide Gates
If you need to seal off something wider than your usual doorway, there are extra-wide gates available to make things a lot easier on you. We’ve seen them stretch as far as 12 feet.
These can be either pressure or hardware mounted, so be careful when you pick one if it’s for a crucial area.
For fireplaces and other dangerous “no go” zones there are modular gates available which you can then place around the area you’re looking to deny entry to.
Each of these works a little bit differently, the main thing is to make sure that it’s sturdy enough to keep your child out.
So What Should I Look for in a Baby Gate?
So, once you’ve picked the type of gate or gates that are best for your home, you’ll still need to make sure that you do a little bit of additional research in order to ensure the perfect fit for your needs.
We think that all of the following are quite important, but we’ll start with the most important stuff first.
How sturdy the gate is will make a big difference in how useful it is. When children hit about 30lbs or so, they’re going to be able to plow through most pressure mounted gates pretty easily. Really at that age, they’d hopefully be able to handle the usual suspects like stairs.
Of course, that’s not always the case. You may want to keep gates in place over the top of stairs and the like for longer than that.
This means that the durability of a gate is a key factor. For that reason, we recommend using gates which have minimal plastic parts, especially where they connect.
The overall construction can be a bit harder to judge online, but we did our best to give them a good test before recommending anything.
Baby gates range in height from about 22” to 36” or so. If your baby is taller than average then go as high as possible.
At the very least, you should look for something which is 75% as tall as your child in order to discourage climbing or other escape attempts. This is especially important at the top of stairs.
Try to find something where the slats are less than three inches apart.
This will keep your child from getting their head trapped within the gate, which is going to be both traumatic and likely necessitate a trip to the ER.
A bit smaller than that is actually ideal, children do some crazy stuff and you don’t want your kid trying to climb over the gate using the slats or to try to go for a ride on the gate. Either could lead to injury or damage to the gate, neither of which is something you want to deal with in a safety device.
One Handed Opening
Being able to open your new baby gate with one hand is pretty much a requirement. In order to ensure that you’re able to get through with a squirming baby in your arms or in other problematic situations.
The gate should still require enough pressure that a baby can’t undo it, but being able to open things with one hand will make your life a whole lot easier as time goes on.
Many gates will have a colored indicator, letting you know whether or not it’s locked with a single glance. This is important for those which you might want to leave open during the day.
It’s not required but being able to tell from across the room whether or not the gate is locked can save you from having to manually test it each time you’re wondering. They’re especially handy for the forgetful types.
Ease of Installation
Some of these gates are going to be much easier to install than others. As a general rule, hardware-mounted baby gates require a little bit more attention and DIY skill to install. They shouldn’t be out of the range of most homeowners however.
You also want flexible installation for those at the top of stairs. Many mounting kits are available, so you may need to purchase an additional one if you have something like an iron railing or other unique topping to your staircase apart from the wall.
When it comes down to it, a baby gate is an essential safety device but they’re also not something to take lightly since they can cause injuries as well if you’re not careful about placement and type.
We still recommend the Regalo Deluxe Easy Step Extra Tall Gate for the vast majority of people, but if you need something wide or retractable then by all means go with those.
Whether your little one is already here or you’re still expecting, make the right choice and pick up the gates you need for your home in order to keep that little guy safe as they grow up. It’s responsible and we think that we’ve made the choice quite easy for new parents.