Updated on by Asher Fergusson
One of the first things you think about when your child starts to move is, “Oh no! I have to block those stairs!” or “How can I keep my baby safe while I take a shower, pay a bill or wash the dishes?”
Every parent needs to know their child is safe while they tend to household business. Getting the right baby gate for your family and living space takes time and energy. With all the choices out there, it can be overwhelming.
Here are some of our favorite baby gates to narrow down the search and hopefully make this critical job much more manageable.
Best Baby Gates
(Best for standard size doorways and openings — $)
Why it’s great: This extra wide gate expands to fit openings between 29-38 and 42-47 inches. It stands 30” tall and has a pressure mount design that is easy to set up. It includes a 4-inch wide and 12-inch wide extension kit and 4 pressure mount spindle rods. The all-steel design makes it super durable and is certified to both JPMA and ASTM standards. This gate has multiple safety-lock features, 4 wall cups for added security, and mounting hardware.
Keep in mind: The gap between the door latch and the frame is not a defect. This is a pressure-mounted gate. When set in, the door frame gate will appear bent. After proper installation, the gate frame will flex, and the gap will disappear.
Good for: Pets too!
(Best for those who need versatility — $$$)
Why it’s great: This 3-in-1 metal super-yard can act as a portable playpen, a baby gate, or a safety barrier! It works on carpet, tile, and hardwood without scratching. It has a child-proof double-locking system that allows secure, easy access. Bonus: It can be mounted to angled walls and extra tall baseboards. It can also expand with extension panels to span extra wide areas. The bars are 2 ¼ “ apart. Extension panels are sold separately.
Keep in mind: It is recommended to use 6 or 8 panels. If you need an odd number, extra hardware is required.
Good for: A family that needs some versatility.
(Best for families that don’t need a gate full time — $$)
Why it’s great: This extra wide retractable baby gate is suitable for many locations inside and out. The Wiscky retractable gate is perfect for families that want their gate to retract easily and quickly when pets or babies are not around. It allows for easy use in high-traffic areas without the trouble of disassembly. The robust mesh design helps keep babies and pets away from hazardous off-limit stairs and regions. It also has a one-handed operation, which allows you to open and close with ease. Automatically locking when released, this gate gives you peace of mind knowing your little one is safe. The Wiscky baby gate extends up to 59” wide and is 33” tall.
Keep in mind: This gate is made of durable mesh.
Good for: Indoor and outdoor use.
(Best for families that want an extra wide gate — $$)
Why it’s great: Made with heavy-duty metal and vertical bars that are hard to climb, this gate is a real winner. Equipped with a one-handed design, this extra wide gate is simple to use. The elegant design is sure to please those in your family that have an eye on household aesthetics. Bonus: There is no threshold, so there is no risk of tripping, and the gate will not swing over the stairs. This baby gate comes in a matte bronze finish. It is 31” tall and designed to fit room openings 28.68 inches to 47.85 inches wide.
Good for: Families concerned about keeping little ones safe from stairs.
(Best when needing dedicated play space indoors & out — $$)
Why it’s great: This indoor/outdoor gate has stakes for the outdoors and non-scratch floor pads for indoor areas. With a spacious 18.5 square feet, your child or pet has plenty of room to play. The easy, quick, no-tool assembly makes this gate great for those that need it up quickly without a lot of fuss. Bonus: Each panel can be a door access.
Keep in mind: It’s lightweight, so it is best used for babies and smaller pets.
Good for: Best for little ones who are less active.
(Best for Those Who Like a Sleek Design — $$)
Why it’s great: This baby gate can be used between hallways, doorways, and stairways. This hardware-mounted gate has a unique comfort grip handle for easy one-hand release. Bonus: This baby gate comes with a Precision Fit Template to ensure correct installation. No measuring required! The gate stands 32” tall and fits openings 30” to 48” wide.
Keep in mind: Tools are required for installation.
Good for: Toddlers. It stands 32” tall.
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(Best for those who want their gate already assembled — $$$)
Why it’s great: This playpen comes with 14 pieces. You can combine multiple or all panels as needed, which makes this playpen super versatile. If you use all 14 panels, it will cover over 25 square feet. Bonus: This playpen has an activity wall with sensory toys to foster your little one’s independent play.
Good for: Babies that are just learning to explore.
FAQs about Baby Gates
1. Do I really need a baby gate?
The simple answer is yes. If you have stairs to a basement or second level in your house, a baby gate is necessary for safety. A common, preventable accident in a home with infants and toddlers is falling downstairs.
Make sure that the gate is hardware mounted so it can’t shift or be pushed loose. You probably also have areas of the house that you don’t want your child to access. A baby gate is excellent for those parts of your home as well.
2. When do I need to get a baby gate?
The best time to install your gate is when your child can roll over on their own. Although it doesn’t seem possible that your infant can roll to the stairs, do you really want to take that chance? Always best to err on the side of caution when making this decision.
3. Are baby gates easy to install?
For the most part, baby gates aren’t that tricky to install and get working. A pressure-mounted gate takes only seconds, whereas a hardware-mounted gate can take around 30 minutes to install. Some hardware-mounted gates come with templates that make installation a breeze. Simply line the template up with where you want to permanently install that gate and proceed.
4. Does the hardware come included?
I have never known a manufacturer not to include all the hardware necessary for gate installation. You might, however, need a tool or two to complete the process.
5. When can I be done with baby gates?
Indeed! This all depends on your comfort level and your child’s inclinations. Generally speaking, around 3 years old is a good time you can comfortably remove baby gates. However, suppose you have a child that isn’t as sure-footed on stairs or gets into EVERYTHING. In that case, you may want to keep them up so you can safely step away to attend to a doorbell or grab a cup of coffee. In most cases, your child will let you know that the gates are no longer welcome.
6. Are there any good multi-configuration gates that could be used as a play area and also converted into a pressure-mounted gate?
After quite extensive search, I can confidently say I don’t believe such a gate exists. There are plenty of hardware-mounted gates that function as play yards, but not pressure mounted. The best solution I could find was a free-standing gate that can both block areas and function as a play yard.
7. If I have a staircase with wrought iron railings, is there a gate that can be used at the top of the stairs that can go either from iron rail to the wall or from banister to banister?
It’s the wrought iron that really causes the hiccup here. It can’t be drilled into and because it is at the top of the stairs, you should never use pressure mounted. I found a kit that was made with this problem in mind. Another solution may be to purchase an extra-long gate that can stretch to attach to walls beyond the banisters.
Baby gates are a necessity to keep your child safe before they can handle household obstacles. Whether inside or out, your child is on the move. You need a way to ensure their safety and your peace of mind. A baby gate is a great way to know that your little one is occupied and safe. Let’s get real, sometimes you need to grab a cup of coffee, pay a bill, or answer the door. It’s not always convenient to carry your baby or toddler while you do these things. That’s why a reliable, strong baby gate is a parent’s best friend.
Believe it or not, you might someday miss being able to contain your little one. For now, keep them safe by ensuring they don’t wander into a room they shouldn’t or topple down a set of stairs. Keeping them safe is your #1 job.
You can’t always be there. For the times you have to step away, let your baby gate give you peace of mind.