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|It sneaks up on most parents: one moment your baby stays right where you set her down and then next, she’s rolling or crawling her way all over the house. It’s the same moment you realize you probably should have bought a baby gate (or several) a few weeks ago.
Baby gates are the ultimate baby proofing tool. They can keep your mobile baby safely in the same room as you and block off any hazards, like stairs. There are a variety of baby gates on the market, and there’s something for every application and preference. Read on to learn more about baby gates in our buying guide as well as our top picks for the best baby gates.
The Best Baby Gates of 2019
The Best for Doorways – North States Easy-Close Gate
The Best for the Stairways – Cardinal Gates Stairway Baby Gate
Attractive Look, for Stairs and Doorways – Munchkin Aluminum Baby Gate
Extra Tall – Dreambaby Chelsea Extra Tall Gate
Ultra-Long, Multi-Purpose – Regalo Super Wide Adjustable Gate
Best for Non-Standard Doorways – Munchkin Easy Close XL Gate
The North States Easy-Close Gate is exactly what the name claims: easy. This steel, pressure-mounted gate is ideal for doorways. It’s simple to install, and the gate conveniently swings both ways. It closes automatically with just one push, which is great for busy parents who might otherwise forget. It also has a double-lock system that involves twisting the handle and pulling up so it’s more difficult for older kids to figure out.
The Easy-Close expands up to 38.5 inches wide with two included extensions and is 29 inches high. If you open it more than 90 degrees, it will stay open, a great feature if you have to carry in groceries or have a large gathering.
The Cardinal Gates Stairway Special Baby Gate is a super safe option for stairways. It’s made from aluminum, and while it’s hardware-mounted, it’s quick to install. This unique gate can also be installed at up to a 30 degree angle, which can be ideal for unusual stairways or to reach drywall studs.
The latch can be operated with one hand, but is difficult for toddlers to figure out, and it swings closed automatically with a satisfying “click” that lets you know it’s locked. The Stairway Special swings both ways and also features an optional stop bracket to keep it from opening out over stairs.
Baby gates aren’t typically designed with aesthetics in mind, but the Munchkin Aluminum Baby Gate is different. This sleek aluminum gate fits nicely with any decor. It’s a hardware-mounted gate, so it’s great for stairs or doorways. Its unique design allows the gate itself to slide down into two wall mounts. That means it’s secure while also giving you the flexibility to easily remove it. A built-in tuning system allows for easy install even if walls aren’t level.
The gate swings in both directions and has a double-lock latch system for added safety. It’s 30.5 inches high and can expand to 40 inches wide.
If you have older toddlers or climbers on your hands, you might need a baby gate that’s taller than most. The Dreambaby Chelsea Extra Tall Gate measures 39.4 inches (or a meter), which is nearly 10 inches taller than standard gates. The gate is pressure-mounted, making it ideal for doorways. It only fits doorways up to 32 inches wide, but with extensions sold separately, it can expand up to 188 inches. That makes it a great fit if you need to close off a section of a room.
The gate is equipped with auto-close but can also stay open if opened more than 90 degrees. It can be opened with one hand, but the double-lock latch keeps toddlers from figuring out how to open it.
If you have an open floor plan or want to block off an entire section of a room, the Regalo Super Wide Adjustable Gate is the baby gate for you. It stands 29 inches tall and can fit spaces up to 192 inches wide. It’s also dual-purpose and can be used as an eight-panel playpen. Each section can be locked in at different angles.
The steel gate is hardware-mounted for added stability and is equipped with a walk-through door. It has a dual-lock latch that adults can open with one hand. When not in use, the Regalo Super Wide can be easily folded for storage.
The Munchkin Easy Close XL Gate is the perfect gate for larger-than-standard doorways. With included extensions, this gate can expand up to 51.6 inches wide and measures 36 inches high. It’s a pressure mounted gate, but you can utilize wall cups that are included and screw into the wall. Simply slip the ends of the gate into the cups for added stability.
You can set whether you want the gate to open in both or just one direction, and it’s easy to operate using one hand. It has a dual-lock latch system and an optional third latch on the bottom for added safety.
Baby gates are designed to keep your baby safe, so there’s a great deal to consider when choosing one. In our buying guide, we’ll outline the purpose of a baby gate, why you might need one and features you’ll want to consider when choosing the right one for your house.
Baby gates come in many different styles, but their primary function is the same: to serve as a barrier to keep your child in or out of a specific area. They can be used differently as your baby grows and moves from crawling to walking. For example, once your child transitions out of a crib, a baby gate across his doorway might be necessary to keep him safely in his room if he gets up early.
Below are examples of other common uses for baby gates:
In addition to safety, one of the main benefits of baby gates is giving parents peace of mind. In fact, they may actually help you sleep better at night. Parenthood is full of worry, and properly installed baby gates can remove at least a few worries from your head. Your baby will also sleep better after being allowed a day to freely explore safe areas of your home.
While you generally want to keep your baby within eyesight, baby gates are still very useful, unless you want to follow right behind your child at all times. Especially as kids get older and faster, it may be nearly impossible to keep them out of danger otherwise. Baby gates are also crucial if you have multiple children to attend to or if you’re a childcare provider.
Baby gates are no substitute for an attentive parent or caregiver and should be used in conjunction with other baby-proofing measures, but they are very effective at preventing injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists baby gates as number two on its list of “12 Safety Devices to Protect Your Children.”
Stair injuries alone are one of the leading causes of hospitalization in young children. In fact, a child under five in the US is treated for a stair-related injury in an emergency department about every six minutes. Most of these falls are completely preventable, and a recent study posits that 45 percent of stair injuries could be avoided with the proper use of baby gates.
Type of Gate – There are two main types of baby gates on the market, and they each work well for different applications:
Safety – Safety is the number one consideration to make when purchasing a baby gate. There’s a great deal to consider when choosing a gate that’s safe for your intended use, including:
In addition to paying attention to these features, be sure to check if your baby gate of choice is certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). A JPMA seal certifies that baby products meet minimum government requirements for safety as well as additional standards. Baby gates certified by JPMA cannot be under 22 inches tall and the space between the bottom of the gate and floor has to be under 3 inches.
Where is it Going? – The type of gate or gates you’ll need will depend a great deal on where they’re going. As mentioned above, pressure mounted gates can work great as a barrier between rooms, but hardware mounted gates are the only safe option for stairways.
You’ll also want to consider how often you’ll need to get through the gate. If it’s in a high-trafficked area, you may want to choose a gate that has a door or can be easily stepped over. The size of your space is another consideration. Some gates are specifically designed to be used in large doorways and others are even large enough to block off a section of a room.
Materials – Baby gates are made from all types of materials, and each have pros and cons. Most are made from plastic, wood, metal, fabric or a combination of one or more. Metal is certainly the sturdiest material and can stand up to a lot of wear and tear. It also tends to be more expensive than plastic or wood and is less forgiving if your child hits his or her head on it.
Fabric gates are loved by many parents because they’re less noisy and softer if your child runs into them. They may be less durable if you have a pet who likes to chew. You’ll also want to consider the possibility of your child using the baby gate as a teething toy and pick something that won’t be harmful if it ends up in his or her mouth.
Portability – Some baby gates are designed to stay in place while others are built for portability. Depending on your needs, you may consider purchasing multiple gates for different uses. Pressure-mounted gates tend to be more portable and are a great option for travel or a grandparent’s house where the gate doesn’t need to be up all the time. You may also want to move a gate around your own house depending on where you are, so finding something lightweight and easy to install is key.
Longevity – Unless you want to buy a new baby gate as your child grows, you may want to think about long-term use. Less sturdy baby gates may be perfectly fine when your child is just crawling, but may not stand up to a walking, climbing toddler. A gate that’s easy to open might also be great for a while, but once your child is taller, he or she may figure out how to open it. Also consider if you plan to use a specific gate through multiple children and choose one that will stand up to repeated use.
Space – It’s important to measure the space where you plan to put your baby gate to ensure it fits properly. Most doorways are between 32 and 36 inches wide, and standard baby gates are designed to fit this width. There are instances when you might need something larger, such as enlarged doorways, outdoor spaces or the need to block off a section of a room. Some gates are designed for large spaces, while others come with additional expansion pieces.