The transition from a still and cuddly baby to one who is becoming mobile is an exciting time for any parent. However, it’s also a big wake-up call. Initially, your baby would stay put wherever you placed them, but they’re now crawling and pulling themselves up, desperate to explore their surroundings.
This milestone brings a new set of challenges. You’ll have to keep a close eye on your child to ensure that they don’t try to go down a staircase or reach for things that would harm them. So, how do you keep your intrepid and curious toddler safe? Invest in infant security gates, that’s how.
To help you, we’ve rounded up the 7 best baby gates on the market, from retractable to pressure- and hardware-mounted alternatives.
What is a baby gate?
When you’re raising a young child, your top priority is keeping them safe, especially when they become mobile.
A baby gate is designed to partition off certain spaces or rooms so that babies and toddlers can’t access them unsupervised. It prevents your little one from getting into precarious situations and places, such as kitchens and staircases. The most recent statistics indicate that not only are injuries a leading cause of death in children but falls are the biggest culprit when it comes to non-fatal injuries in kids.
Why you need a baby gate
A baby gate adds a crucial layer of safety to any home. Here are a few reasons why you need a child gate and its perks:
- Keeps your child safe: To baby-proof your home and ensure your munchkin is completely secure, a baby gate is a must-have.
- Gives you peace of mind: If your baby is anything like my 1-year-old, they’ll want to explore every square inch of their surroundings. By investing in a gate, you can allow your tot the freedom to explore but do so in a safe manner. The peace of mind these child safety gates offer is just priceless.
- Creates a play yard: If you can find a baby play gate like the Regalo 192-inch Super Wide model, then you’ll be able to create a safe play zone. Simply use it to section off areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and fireplaces. Better yet, you can confine your child to a space where you have a good view of them, even when you’re doing chores.
- Keeps them separate from pets: A baby gate is also handy when it comes to keeping pets and kids separate and safe. This is something you may want to do if:
- You own a lap or small dog and want to keep the pet safe from your child.
- Your pet is not very kid-friendly.
- Your pet and children are just starting to get acquainted.
Types of baby gates
There are 2 main types: hardware-mounted and pressure-mounted baby gates.
1. Hardware-mounted baby gate
This type usually comes with brackets that you’ll have to screw into the wall and attach the baby gate to. They’re also known as wall-mounted gates.
Compared to the pressure-mounted version, this gate is sturdier and more stable. As a result, it’s the best option if you’re looking to install a baby gate for stairs or in areas where you want a permanent barrier.
The drawback to a hardware-mounted baby gate is the fact that it leaves holes in your walls. There’s also the fact that installation requires more work because it involves drilling holes.
2. Pressure-mounted baby gate
Instead of brackets, this type of gate features an expandable spring system that secures it into place. The tension rods squeeze the gate between two walls, generating pressure that locks it in place.
The greatest benefit you get from this kind of gate is flexibility. Since it’s easy to install and detach, you can move it from place to place.
However, it’s best used in an area that is flat and level, like a doorway. Since it’s so easy to open, it wouldn’t be the best choice for a stairway.
Once you’ve determined the type of baby gate you prefer, examine the different styles that exist. You can have:
- Walk-through: This kind of gate will have a door, which you can open when you want to pass through.
- Climb-over: This gate doesn’t have a door, which means the only way to pass through is to climb over it.
3. Retractable gates
Another type of baby gate we’d like to examine is the retractable one.
Typically made of mesh, this gate is designed to fold up like a window blind when it’s not in use. Retractable safety gates offer the most flexibility when it comes to width. You can extend it as wide as you need to ensure it fits an opening.
What to look for when buying a baby gate
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when choosing a baby gate:
When you decide to get a baby gate, the first thing you should do is to measure the width of the opening. You don’t want to spend money on one that ends up being too big or too small for the opening you have at home.
For a staircase, you’ll want to take dimensions of both the top and bottom of the stairs. If buying the gate for a doorway, then measure the distance between the walls and the skirting boards.
Remember to check the gate’s height as well. The general rule of thumb is that a baby gate should be at least 22 inches tall. This is to prevent your munchkin from trying to climb over it.
2. Gate spacing
Just as important as the height and width is the spacing between the slats. By standard, the slats shouldn’t be more than 3 inches apart to reduce the risk of your baby’s arms, legs, and head getting trapped.
3. Locking mechanism
Another feature to pay attention to is how the baby gate closes. Does it have a self-locking mechanism or a two-step locking process?
A self-locking model is better because it locks automatically once the gate is closed. With the latter, you might forget to lock it because of the two-step process.
This would then make it easier for your baby to open the gate by themselves.
7 best baby gates
Looking for the best stairway gates for babies? Here are 7 top-rated models:
1. Regalo Extra Tall Baby Gate
Some babies are very agile and may try to scale the bars of the safety gate. If you want to eliminate this risk, consider getting an extra tall gate like this model by Regalo.
It measures a staggering 41 inches in height, so even the nimblest toddler can’t stage an escape. As for the width, it can easily fit openings that are 29 to 36.5 inches wide. Plus, it has a 4-inch extension kit, increasing its range of use.
Made of heavy-duty steel, this gate is designed for the long haul. It also features a walk-through door, with a one-hand open design for an easy exit.
2. Summer Multi-Use Walk-Thru Baby Gate
If you’re big on interior decor, you’ll be impressed with the Summer Baby Gate. It has a bronze arch and highly detailed bars, which give it a very sleek and stylish look.
At 36 inches high, this baby gate is extra tall, which helps to deter your little one from climbing over. The extra height also means you don’t have to bend as much when you’re passing through.
The only issue is that it’s a little loud when it closes so don’t place it too near your baby’s nursery if they’re light sleepers.
3. Munchkin Easy Close Baby Gate
One aspect that parents forget to check when buying baby gates is their ease of opening. For maximum convenience, you should be able to open it with one hand, just in case you have to hold your baby in your other arm. The Munchkin Baby Gate offers this and then some.
For instance, it’s one of the few baby gates with extensions. Ideally, it should fit a 29.5-inch wide opening, but with the 2.75-inch extension, it can fit openings up to 35 inches wide.
Another highlight is its dual-locking mechanism. You can configure how you want to open it: either pull it in towards you or push it away from you.
4. Evenflo Secure Step Gate
Not every baby gate is suitable for installing on a stairway, but the Evenflo baby gate is for one main reason—it’s hardware-mounted.
When it comes to size, the gate is about 30 inches tall and can fit openings 29 to 42 inches wide.
It also features an easy walk-through structure, facilitating passage for an adult. Better yet, it can swing both ways and doesn’t have a floor bar, which eliminates the risk of tripping.
For maximum safety, the Evenflo gate also comes equipped with a safety lock indicator. This helps you know whether the gate is closed or not.
5. Regalo Super Wide Adjustable Baby Gate
For parents looking to create a safe play area within their home, the Regalo Super Wide Baby Gate is the ultimate solution.
It’s made up of 8 panels, which stretch 192 inches across. You’re free to attach the panels together to form a rectangular- or octagon-shaped play yard.
Installation is a cinch thanks to the 4 packs of wall mounts provided. Moreover, it’s very easy to store as it can be folded flat when not in use.
6. Safety First Easy Install Metal Baby Gate
If you’re looking for a gate that will fit nicely into contemporary home decor, the Safety First Baby Gate is a perfect choice.
It comes in a modern design and neutral color, which makes it easier to blend in your home. It also has an ultra-wide and tall design, making it suitable for installing in wider passageways.
Lastly, it’s backed by a Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification, meaning it’s been tested and found to be completely safe for toddler use.
7. Smart Retract Retract-A-Gate
If you’re after the best retractable baby gate, the Retract-A-Gate by Smart Retract is just what you need.
Available in black, cafe, and white, the gate is 34 inches tall and 52 inches wide. The best part about its design is that it fastens on the other side using a child-proof lock.
The gate is very easy to open one-handed, which is extremely convenient when you have to juggle a baby and groceries. It’s also certified by the JPMA and can be installed at the top or bottom of the stairway.
How to use a baby gate
Deciding to buy a baby gate is a step in the right direction. However, you should learn how to use it correctly.
Here are a few suggestions:
Frame it in
Most manufacturers provide plastic plugs for attaching the gate to a drywall. Unfortunately, these aren’t strong enough to withstand the pressure of the gate being swung open.
We recommend building a frame to provide a sturdy attachment. Mount a wooden piece vertically on either side of the gate. You can then attach the frame to your drywall using a toggle bolt.
Don’t be hesitant to drill holes in your walls for fear of damaging the look of your home. The holes can be filled easily later on.
Placement is key
Some parents leave a big gap between the gate and floor to accommodate baseboards and pets.
However, this also leaves enough room for a child to sneak underneath—or at least give it a go. To keep your kid safe, ensure the space isn’t wider than 3 inches.
Baby gates are a must-have item when your toddler becomes mobile. They’ll prevent your child from accessing places they’re not supposed to. By helping you create a safe play yard within your home, baby gates can offer you much-needed peace of mind.