Lace up your sneakers, Mom and Dad. Now that baby is mobile — be it speedy scooting, relentless rolling or curious crawling — you need to be ready to move, and fast! But, even supermom can’t be everywhere all the time, so you need to do some serious baby-proofing around the house, and that includes putting up baby gates.
Parents usually start installing gates when baby reaches 6 months, since at that age baby will soon be on the move and ready to explore. But if baby is on the go sooner, you’ll want to start looking for the best baby gates even earlier. Some children are savvy enough to open and close baby gates at age 2, so many parents go gateless at that point. But remember, children develop at different rates, so use your discretion when deciding what works best for your home.
Below we summarize the conclusions of our reviews, starting with gates designed for doorways and hallways, and then considering gates designed for the top or bottom of stairs. Never use a regular baby gate near a stairway! To learn more details about our testing to find the best baby gates, scroll down to the bottom of this article!
Do You Need a Baby Gate?
Unless you live in a one-story home and you’ve baby proofed every room from ceiling to floor then yes, you’ll probably need a baby gate. Most babies start to scoot and crawl around seven months old. Tiny fingers love to tamper with cupboards, open every drawer they get their hands on and even taste test the dog food—so you’ll want to make sure your living space is childproofed well before all of that unfolds. And don’t even get us started on stairs…
5 Best Baby Gates of 2021:
This gate is stylish yet safe and secure enough to give parents peace of mind whenever their kids are exploring around. Plus, it does not swing over stairs.
You’ll not worry about your curious little guy tumbling down the stairs with this Summer Deluxe Stairway Simple to Secure Wood Gate. It childproofs your home in style through its decorative antique oak wood. The gate is hardware-mounted and does accommodate not only stairways but also other openings like doorways and hallways.
It opens entirely, and you don’t have to worry about tripping over a bar at the top of stairs, which is a notable feature. This baby gate has an excellent door stopper to prevent it from moving in the opposite direction, especially over the stairs.
- Easy to install
- It is decorative, making the house attractive
- Safe and secure
- Has a comfortable grip handle to close and open
- The grip handles are plastic and not metal
- Mounting instructions are not clear enough
Usually about $90. Have a doorway wider than the usual 40-42″ maximum of typical baby gates? Want to close off an entire section of the house, block the fireplace, or secure a large opening between rooms? Then the Regalo 192″ super wide gate is probably the best option for you.
This gate is comprised of eight independent detachable gate sections that can be put together in any configuration (like two on one side, four on the other), with the door counting as one of the eight sections. This means you can set up the gate in a doorway, between room openings, or even configure it as a large play yard by making an octogon shape.
When we received the box for testing we were immediately overwhelmed by how large the gate is, how many pieces there are, and how much hardware it comes with. But we quickly realized a few cool things: first, the entire thing stands on its own like a big accordion, so you can stand it up while configuring it, and make markings on the wall (for mounting) super easily, and second, after a few minutes of reading the manual and arranging the gate around our room, we realized it was just like any other gate, but much more versatile.
Another great feature is that on the top of each joint where two gate sections come together there is a tightening knob that will effectively fix the gate into your desired position.
- Easily installs in minutes
- Comes with an instructional video
- It is sturdy
- Opens in both directions
- The gate does not swing over stairs
- The lock handle is a bit rigid, making it hard to open and close
The Evenflow Barn Door Walk-Thru gate is a standout choice in this lineup. Occasionally a product appears that is so superior compared to the competition that it feels like it stands apart and deserves more praise than the typical contender. This gate is that product. We were instantly impressed with the quick assembly of this gate, the one-hand operation, the color-coded closure, and the self-closing door. This choice swings either way and can lock in place to prevent accidental baby escapes.
We like the satisfying clunk sound when it self-closes so you know the deed is done without visual confirmation. Most of the gate is real wood and looks great with a variety of decor choices compared to the traditional gate options. This gate will fit most average size doorways and it stays put after you tighten the tension mounts. We tested this gate on bedroom and bathroom openings and were very impressed overall.
This product can be a bit more expensive than some of the competition (depending on sales). However, after testing, we feel it is worth the price if your budget allows. This age feels as if it will last longer than cheaper versions, and the quality feels better than similar competitors. Also, the closing can be somewhat loud when you let it self-close, which could potentially wake a sleeping baby.
However, if you need a softer close, you can slowly guide the gate in place for a much quieter connection. Overall, we can’t say enough positive things about this gate; we absolutely love it and we think most parents will too.
- Color-coded self-closing
- Great style
- Solid feel
- Doesn’t fit all openings
- Trip bar
Out of the box, the setup is faster and easier than most competitors, taking less than 20 minutes. This gate also has the rare ability to be installed at an angle, so it can accommodate odd situations where the gate isn’t perfectly perpendicular to the walls.
Once installed, it has a simple latch that’s easy for adults to undo, but confounding to anyone under 2 years old. It is the only tested gate with a 100 percent metal locking system and, properly installed, the gate had no problems supporting 180 pounds of weight (me, sitting on it) without any flex.
No matter how much we throttled, kicked, and rattled it, the gate didn’t budge, while other gates, with plastic hinges and latches, strained under weight, and even came loose with a few aggressive pulls. Usually sold for around $70, the Stairway Special is one of the more expensive models we tested, but we feel the value you get is worth the investment, particularly knowing what’s at stake when you’ve got a 1-year-old standing at the top of a set of stairs.
This gate fits openings 27 to 42½ inches and is available in white and black. Cardinal Gates’s WG-35 is a similar gate that’s made mostly of wood, but it has the same metal latch and hinge as our pick.
- JPMA safety certification
- Lower price compared to other options
- Can be pressure or hardware mounted
- Bottom stability bar requires a step-over
Has a safety-lock feature that is perfect for older toddlers and extra tall for maximum protection. Also, it is an excellent option for both the top and bottom stairs.
Protect your mobile child from the dangers of stairs with this Regalo 2-in-1 Extra Tall Easy Swing Stairway gate. It was built with strength and durability in mind due to its steel construction. The gate is hardware-mounted to ensure more excellent protection, and setting up is pretty fast.
It comes with two panels, screws, and a hardware mounting kit to ensure you have everything needed for installation. This gate also has a rotating latch and a hinge system to swing swiftly while passing through.
- It is extra wide and tall
- The gate is adjustable and easy to store
- Easy to use and set up
- The steel design is durable
- Measuring openings is a requirement before purchasing the gate
Baby Gates Buying Guide
Every parent anxiously waits for the day that their baby begins to crawl and then walk. But as soon as your little one hits that milestone, there’s a whole new world of babyproofing that’s waiting for you! While you could previously keep your baby corralled in a playpen, now you need to somehow block off entire parts of your home.
And more importantly, you might need to protect your baby from serious dangers like stairs or easy access to exterior doors. (In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics categorizes stairs as one of the top 10 causes of injury in small children.) When you reach this point in parenting, it’s time to invest in a good set of baby gates.
Types of Baby Gates
- Pressure-mounted: These gates use pressure—think of a tension rod—to safely secure themselves to doorways and hallways. They are easy to install and remove, which is great for travelers or renters.
- Hardware-mounted: These gates need to be screwed into the walls, so they’re much harder to remove. For this reason, they are the only acceptable gate for the top of the stairs.
- Freestanding: These gates create an enclosed pen for your baby or a makeshift wall to temporarily block off places.
Baby Gates Safety Tips
A baby gate should never take the place of adult supervision. It can only enhance what you’re already doing, which is protecting your innocent little one from the hazards — seen and unseen — that lurk inside your home.
Of course, it’s important to set up your baby gate precisely as the manufacturer instructs. That’s the best way to minimize the risk of a faulty gate. Below are more safety tips:
- Use a hardware-mounted gate at the top of the stairs, and make sure the gate swings away from the stairs, not toward them.
- Install pressure-mounted gates with the pressure bar side away from where your baby will be. Otherwise, the child could use it as a step to climb over the gate.
- Keep the gate closed at all times. Remind others to close the gate behind them as they pass through.
- An installed gate loosens naturally over time, becoming less secure. Inspect your pressure- and hardware-mounted gates regularly to make sure they’re still doing their job. Tighten connections and make other adjustments as necessary.
- As mentioned above, gates should come with a seal from the JPMA to ensure they meet minimum safety requirements. These requirements pertain to the gate’s height, the amount of space between the floor and the bottom of gate, the distance between slats, the safety of the latching mechanism, and the overall strength of the gate.