New parents would very quickly realize their home is not safe for kids by the time the baby starts to crawl. The decision to making the house safe for kids would follow soon enough. And one safety device is getting a baby gate to keep the child away from certain areas or to restrict them to locations considered safe.
It is normal if as a parent you want the best baby gate installed in your home. Surprisingly, it can be difficult to get the best baby gate for an apartment.
There are a couple of reasons for this: there are hundreds of baby gates all promising you the world hence making it rather difficult to make a choice and the physical dimensions of your house or the location you want to install the gate play an important role in your choice.
Hopefully, by the time you get to the end of this guide, picking the best baby gate from several hundred wouldn’t be so daunting. You’d know the type you need, some safety tips, what to avoid, and the various types of baby gates.
Types of Baby Gates
Basically, baby gates are classified depending on how they are mounted or installed. The array of gates, some of them presented with complex design and features, fall into three broad groups.
- Pressure mounted gates
- Hardware mounted gates
- Extra-Wide baby gates
Pressure-mounted gates – Pressure-mounted gates are best for walls or woodwork you don’t want to bore holes into. They use a specially designed spring system that is expandable to lock the gate.
The gate is attached by forcing it between two walls or surfaces; the pressure created locks and holds it in place. Rubber pieces are usually part of both frames of the gate to help secure the gate and protect the wall or surface from abrasions.
Pressure-mounted gates are mostly suitable for doorways and hallways. If the plan is to change the location of the safety gate occasionally, pressure-mounted gates would be the right one for you because they can be uninstalled easily and are not heavy making portability a non-issue.
No matter how sturdy and strong they look, it is recommended that you never use them at the top of the stairs. The gate could topple over under the weight of the child especially if they are not properly secured.
Hardware Mounted baby gates – For these types of baby gates, you would need tools to install them since they are designed to be securely attached to walls or frames in the house.
Be prepared to use screwdrivers, drills and other tools to attach a bracket securely to whatever frame you want to install the gate on. For the stability of the gate, it is advisable not to screw the bracket directly on the wall. Wall plasters are known to easily give way making the gate unstable and prone to accidents.
In the absence of a frame to screw the hardware on, it should be screwed into a wall stud created for this purpose. You can also pass the screws through anchors for a sturdy gate. This shouldn’t be hard, but if you have doubts, simply call a technician to do it for you or a neighbor with great DIY skills can easily fix it for you.
Hardware mounted baby gates would be great for places like the top of the stairs where you can’t use a pressure-mounted baby gate. If you don’t mind the holes, you can install hardware-mounted gates on any surface in any part of the house.
Extra-Wide Baby Gates – in your search for the best baby gate for your kid, you would notice most baby gates have a maximum width of 48″. But in some cases, the areas or spaces that need to be demarcated are considerably wider than that.
For these areas, the extra-wide baby gates are the best options. Most of them are hardware mounted. Many of the normal Hardware-mounted baby gates come with extensions that can be added to extend the width.
If you have wide hallways, make sure you inquire if the baby gate can be extended. The extensions are usually bought separately from the main gate and come with instructions on how to attach them to create a wider baby gate.
Top 12 Best Baby Gates: Review
1. Evenflo Soft and Wide Gate
There is so much to like about the Evenflo Soft and Wide Gate for babies. For parents who have to go everywhere with their kids, this gate is made for them as it is portable and easy to install.
It is not your usual gate as it doesn’t have a door. This means it doesn’t swing open or close like regular gates. Instead, it can be extended from its frame across the doorway. It is fixed in that position until you need to remove it.
The baby gate is 27″ tall and can be expanded up to 60” making it suitable for all door sizes. The pressure-mounted gate is easy to install with no tools needed to do that. The machine-washable gate can easily be uninstalled, folded and taken to a different location.
2. Lascal KiddyGuard Avant Retractable Baby Safety Gate
If you can handle tools with ease, the elegant KiddyGuard Avant Retractable gate is another awesome option in your search for the best gate to help keep your kid safe.
Presented in either black or white colors, the baby gate features a flexible, strong mesh panel and a sturdy but cute gate housing made of aluminum.
The one-handed simple release and lock gate comes with a unique ‘open and close’ system that allows you to open, pass through and secure the gate quietly.
This gate is suitable for doors up to 48″ wide. It has a height of 32″ inches and you might need to get separate installation kits for banisters and wall installation kit for houses with baseboards.
3. Kidco Safeway Gate
For the bottom or top of stairs, and even if your stairs have banisters, Kidco Safeway is one of the best baby gates to install for your baby’s safety.
It is a hardware mounted gate with a quick release design that makes it easy to be removed when you don’t need it anymore. It also features a directional stop that prevents the gate from swinging out over the stairs further ensuring the safety of your baby.
Kidco Safety gate has a height of 30″ and can be configured for openings between 28″ to 43.5″ in width. It comes with hinge mounts to make it easier to install on all types of walls.
Since it is a hardware-mount baby gate, be prepared to drill and screw into the railings. However, it is still an excellent option if you want a simple, fixed safety gate for the bottom or top of your stairway.
4. Regalo Home Accents Extra and Wide Walk Thru Gate
The Regalo Home Accents is a steel-framed and hardwood accents baby gate. This versatile gage has a dual installation system: it can be pressure-mounted or attached permanently using the enclosed hardware that comes with it.
The gate is about 38″ high and is designed for doors or openings up to a width of 44″. The optional extensions that come with it make this maximum width a reality.
The gate is very light making it very portable. This ensures it can be removed easily and installed in any part of the house when it is pressure mounted.
Some may not like that it only opens in one direction and has a comparatively narrow door. But it is very cost-effective considering its versatility and quality.
5. North States Wide Extra-Tall Easy Close Baby Gate
Though tagged extra-tall, North States Easy Close baby gate is certainly not the tallest in this review. However, at 36″ high, the ‘tall’ label seems very apt and is a perfect fit for doorways that need tall barriers.
The gate is beautifully-designed with an exclusive bronze finishing. The heavy-duty steel material used in making it can only mean durability.
This is a pressure mount gate that is easy to set up using tension knobs to secure it in place. It features a triple locking system, a hold-open feature to stop it from locking, and it can swing both ways for convenience and easy movement.
It is suitable for different types of room openings, doorways, and at the bottom of the stairs and is designed to fit spaces between 28″ and 38.5″ wide. The door, though, is just 17” wide; but that should be enough to serve the household well.
6. BabyDan Guard Me Retractable Safety Gate
BabyDan Guard Me baby gate is an innovative safety gate made of plastic that is completely PVC-free. And because of the plastic material, the gate is easy to wipe clean of smudges and dirt.
It is suitable for the inside and outside of doors and at the top and bottom of stairs. The 28″ tall gate come pre-assembled making it very easy to set up. It also comes with 3 spare extensions so you can fit the gate for doorways and spaces from 21.7″ up to 35.2″ wide.
The wall-mounted gate would fold neatly back against the wall when it is opened making it one of the most unobtrusive baby gates in the market.
7. Dreambaby Chelsea Extra Tall and Wide Baby Gate
This Dreambaby Chelsea baby gate is called ‘extra tall’ for a reason. At 41″ tall, even toddlers would have a hard time getting over it. The gate can fit into openings or doorways between 38″-42.5″ wide and can be extended for wider spaces of 111″ with the additional extensions you can purchase separately.
The gate features a unique ‘Smart StayOpen’ design that keeps the door open for occasions you need to move freely through the barrier.
Other features of this easy pressure or hardware mount gate include an auto-lock system, double locking system, and an EZY indicator that shows red if the gate is not properly locked.
There won’t be any need to screw holes into walls or woodwork in the home since it is a pressure mount gate. However, for the top of the stairs, you would have to screw down the mounting cups to secure the gate very well.
8. Munchkin Loft Aluminum Hardware Mount Baby Gate
Munchkin’s Loft Aluminum baby gate is a modern 30.5″ tall hardware mount gate with a sleek design and door that opens both ways.
It is meant for doorways between 26.5″ and 40″. You can easily adjust the width using the gate’s integrated preset positions. Installing it though might be a bit tricky. Two vertical wall mounts have to be screwed in for the gate to slide in from the top.
Once that is done though, everything else is easy. You can easily remove the gate by sliding it out if there is no use for it at that moment.
It features double lock handle latches, extra-wide walkthrough for heavy traffic areas, and tuning system that allows the gate to be aligned perfectly with the wall during mounting.
However, this gate costs quite a bit and if you are on a tight budget, you’d have to make adjustments to your budget to get it.
9. Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco Extra Tall Walk-Thru Baby
This gate works on the premise that baby gates can make your home look even better. The bronze baby gate would certainly improve the aesthetics of the area it is mounted.
Though the makers say it can be mounted at the top of stairs, it is best for doorways only for two reasons. There is a bar across the bottom of the gate. People can easily trip over it making it very dangerous if it is mounted at the top of the stairs.
Besides, it is a pressure mount gate. Generally, pressure mount-only gates are not recommended for stairways.
The gate is 36″ tall and would fit spaces 28.5”-45″ wide and features a removable door stopper, dual locking system, auto close mechanism, and one hand walk through that opens in either direction.
10. Regalo Super Wide Adjustable Baby Gate
At 192″ wide, Regalo’s adjustable baby gate is certainly one of the widest baby gates in the market. To compensate for the width and make it sturdy and strong, the gate is a combination of eight panels 24″ high. The panels are connected to each other via hinged posts.
The all-steel gate is easy and convenient to set up and comes with 4 packs of wall mounts. You don’t need tools to install it and due to the hinged posts, you can turn the panels into an 8-sided play yard for your kid.
It also features a walk-through door and safety locking feature. It can easily be folded for easy portability and storage.
This certainly is the gate you want if you need to barricade large spaces in the home. Obviously, the gate won’t fit or work with standard doorways.
11. Munchkin Easy-Close Metal Baby Gate
There is so much to like about Munchkin’s White Easy Close baby gate. Its combination of versatility, durability, affordable pricing and functionality ensures it is one of the bestselling baby gates at the moment.
It is 29.5″ tall and would fit doorways or spaces between 29.5″ and 35″ wide. It comes with an additional extension of 2.5″. The gate can be extended to fit spaces up to 54″ with extensions that can be bought separately.
It has a dual-locking mechanism that allows doors to swing both ways and is designed to close firmly with just a gentle push.
Mounting it is so easy. You can choose between the pressure or wall cup mounts to set it up. In both cases, you don’t need to be an expert with tools to get it done.
12. Cardinal Gates Auto-Lock Baby Gate
The Cardinal Gate Auto-Lock baby gate, despite being a hardware mounted piece, is definitely one of the easiest baby gates to install. The best part is, it is very strong and sturdy and can withstand all your baby’s best efforts to bring it down.
At a height of about 30″, the gate is for doorways between 26.5″ – 40.5″. With those dimensions, it would be suitable for doorways, areas with high traffic, and the bottom of the stairs.
The gate features an auto lock and can swing both ways. It also has a stop bracket that prevents it from opening when it is mounted over a stairway. This feature though is optional and you would have to get it separately.
Things to consider before buying a baby gate
There are some preliminary stuff you need to get out of the way before facing the business of making your apartment safe for your kid. These are as important as the main job of purchasing and installing the baby gate.
Measure the space – Why you need to do this seems rather obvious, but it needs emphasizing. You have to first determine where you want the gate installed and measure the width and height of the space.
For staircases, measure the width of the bottom and top stairs; while for doorways, measure the space between the walls as well the skirting boards to ensure your gate fits perfectly when it’s time to install it.
You must be as accurate as possible especially for the width. The height is not so important.
Measure your baby’s height – You have to know how tall your baby is to know the most suitable gate to install relative to the height of your kid. Experts recommend that the gate must be at least three-quarters of your baby’s height.
This is to prevent your kid from hoisting themselves over the gate. The hope is that, no matter how strong your baby is, they won’t be able to pull themselves over the gate.
Where do you plan to install the baby gate – Though most gates are designed to fit several types of areas, there are some that are meant to be installed in specific places.
There are three basic locations for gates:
- Top and bottom of stairs
- Large entranceway/ entire areas
For doorways, a simple baby gate that swings open in either one or both directions is okay. These types of gates are also suitable for the top and bottom stairs.
However, for the top of the stairs, you want a baby gate that swings only in one direction to prevent accidents. When you are installing them over the stairs, make sure the hate does not swing open over the stairway.
Also, stairways, for safety reasons, do not work well with tension-mounted baby gates because two walls are needed to support the pressure mounts directed outward.
These pressure mounts, when they are attached to railings, tend to apply pressure on the railings and, sooner or later, would render the setup shaky or wobbly.
If you want to barricade entire areas or very large entranceways, for instance, the front of the fireplace, you need to buy baby gates like the Dreambaby Chelsea Extra Wide baby gate or Regalo Super Wide Adjustable baby gate which are both reviewed here.
If you want to go all out, The Regalo Super Wide has you covered. It also has the advantage of being very versatile.
Guide to Buying the best baby gate for your home
With the measurement of the space and your kid’s height written down on a piece of paper or committed to memory, you are now ready to shop for a suitable safety gate for your kid.
These are the things you must look out for:
Safety is paramount – Your baby’s safety can never be compromised. It should be the most important priority in your search for the best baby gate to purchase.
Choosing baby gates based on only how it would make your home look and the cost is the wrong way to go about it. Aesthetics, generally, tend to hide many flaws, and while beautiful safety barriers for kids may complement your home decor, you might regret it later when a flaw in the design compromises your baby’s safety.
Going for an expensive gate doesn’t necessarily translate to the best. Sometimes, the cost may be determined by factors not strongly related to the quality or suitability of the best baby gate for your kid. It is common to come across cheap baby gates that stand up better to tests than pricier baby gates.
Inversely, many baby gates are cheap because they are made with inferior materials that barely passed safety standards.
The following are important safety tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid wooden retractable or expanding gates and gates with pressure locking bars. These have a bad habit of pinching the baby’s tender fingers or even worse cause lacerations due to their mechanism.
- Do not buy gates with horizontal bars no matter how suitable they look. Kids can use the bars to climb attempt to go over the gate
- Make sure the distance between the slats or bars is not more than 3 inches apart. Anything more than that is a strangulation risk for your kid.
- Never install a baby gate at the top of the stairs if the baby gate has a horizon rail (also known as a step-over rail) at the bottom. This is a potential tripping hazard and at the top of the stairs could lead to very serious injuries.
Look for child-proof locking mechanism – The baby gates you decide to get must be difficult for kids to open. You would be surprised that many gates out there, while having most features spot on, fall short on this fundamental requirement.
To be clear, you must avoid gates with a simple button lock mechanism. You might think at this age, your baby is too young to understand locks. But with time, you would discover to your dismay that you need a new gate with a more secure locking mechanism because the current one can keep the baby in.
If you pick any of the baby gates in this review, be rest assured that a sub-standard locking mechanism is not going to be a problem now or later.
A sturdy baby gate is the way to go – Many adults are frequently taken aback by a baby’s strength. Unfortunately, many parents seem to forget that fact when they decided to invest in a baby gate.
Here are some things that would most certainly happen once you restrict your baby’s movement with a baby safety barrier:
- They would try hard to pull the gate down all the time
- If pulling doesn’t work they would shove it with all their strength
- Your kid would always try to climb over it and
- They would lean on it with all their weight
Imagine all that happening to a baby gate that is not sturdy. With time, that barrier is going to be conquered by your kid. Again, all the baby gates in this review passed the ‘sturdiness test’ with top marks. They are not called the best baby gates just for the heck of it.
One-handed opening – Though this review is all about the best baby gates, the gate you pick has to be very effective to you and other adults too. And one important aspect is how you open and close the gate.
You don’t want to install a gate that requires you to use two hands to open or shut it. There would be lots of times when you have to go through that gate carrying something in one hand like the baby, supplies, or even holding the phone to your ear with one hand while going through the gate.
It would be a huge inconvenience to have to drop whatever you are doing to open the gate because two hands are required.
Look for JPMA certification – The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) is the top certification body for setting the safety standards of juvenile products.
The JPMA seal on a product is a clear indication that the baby gate was verified by experts and has passed all the necessary safety milestones as set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
Baby Gates Pro tips
- Ensure that the baby safety gate is not more than two inches off the floor. Anything more than that and the baby would try to crawl through the space underneath.
- Never leave furniture, toys or other objects near the baby gate. Your adventurous kid might use these items as a boost to try and climb over the gate.
- Never use/buy a second-hand baby gate or use an old one you got from a friend or family. The safety regulations for baby gates keep on charging. While the old one might have been safe back in the day, the new rules would have made them obsolete.
- Always check the screws on a monthly basis to make sure they are still tight. If you notice a loose screw, replace it immediately if it can’t be tightened again.
- If you have a pressure-mounted baby gate, do a monthly check to ensure they are still properly fixed to their moorings. Fact is, the constant opening and closing of the gate can make them slip. If you don’t rectify it in time, the gate could come off and collapse on your kid.
- Climbing over the gate is not a good idea. Since kids love aping their parents, your kid would get the wrong idea that it is okay to do that. And they would definitely attempt it once they are able to drag themselves off the floor.
In choosing the best baby gate, your preference would depend on quite a few things like your budget and where you want to install it. This review was carefully curated with the intention of giving you as many options as are possible so you don’t have to waste too much time over-thinking the process.
If you are still befuddled and unable to make up your mind, you can enlist the assistance of a technician or talk to family and friends that are using one or have used one before. You could show them this review to help you make a choice.
That said, no matter your decision, never compromise on the quality just because you want to save a few bucks or make your home prettier with that cute baby gate you love so much.