The Best Types of Baby Safety Gates

Now that your little munchkin has suddenly developed the skills to move around, you’ve no doubt realized your house is filled with dangers you haven’t noticed previously. With your newborn adorably swaddled and dependant on you for everything, you may have been too busy with the round-the-clock feeding, sleeping, changing, and cuddling to spend time baby-proofing your home. Now you realize you need to make some serious upgrades to your living space ASAP to keep your baby safe as he learns to make it his home too. You’ve noticed, though, that the market is filled with a huge assortment of baby-related gear and dozens of different types of safety gates (hello capitalism).

We’re guessing that you have little time and patience to sift through all the information and decide which gate might work best to install in your home. The endless options just seem to make decisions more difficult. For your ease and comfort, we’ve researched the best types of baby safety gates that are currently available and organized our data into clear and simple summaries. We’re hoping our helpful guide below will streamline your buying decision and give you confidence that you’ve chosen the best baby safety gate option for your family.

Because your child’s safety is the utmost priority, we have chosen to research the most trustworthy and established brands who offer the most relevant baby safety gates from 2018. All the following types of baby safety gates are certified as safe from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). We’ve highlighted their beneficial features, noted any negative aspects they might have, and laid out all our findings into simple summaries that allow you to compare the best types of baby safety gates to select the one that fits your needs.

We’ve chosen to compare each gate based on select criteria such as material, ease of use and installation, and extra features. We figured these were the most important criteria to consider for each gate because, while all the gates reviewed here are safe for your child, we also realize you will be travelling in and out of them countless times per day for the next two years. You want a gate that’s sturdy and also is easy to operate so that you don’t smash down the gate yourself out of frustration.

In general, there are two types of baby safety gates: pressure-mounted and hardware. Pressure-mounted gates are typically easier to install because they don’t require tools and extra pieces to attach them to a wall. Instead, they expand to fill the space such as a doorway or hallway, and are secure there by pressing into the wall without requiring permanent changes to your home. However, they are not as secure as hardware safety baby gates, and are definitely not safe to use at the top of the stairs where your infant might fall into the gate and apply enough force to knock it over and tumble. Before you decide which gate to purchase, you should know which types of baby safety gates work best for different areas of the house.

You should also make sure you measure the space you’re hoping to secure. Most doorways are around 36 inches wide, but many are narrower or more spacious. If you’re trying to close off a larger area or an irregular-shaped space, we’ve reviewed those types of baby safety gates offered for those needs as well. Also, think about the height of the gate you need. Most baby gates should be at least three quarters of your baby’s height, so if you’ve got a tall fellow you should consider one of the higher gate options.

Next time your curious crawler makes a beeline for the stairway or hustles towards the bathroom with all the drawers of cosmetics (even at 12 months girls seem to be interested in that stuff), you can have peace of mind that your safety gate is standing guard over her inquisitive mind and keeping her safe from harm.

We’ve divided the types of baby safety gates into categories, as follows:

Step-over gates

These step-over gates are pressure mounted and work great to close off a space from babies or pets. They are low enough that an adult can step over them easily, although ideally these gates are not recommended for long term use in your house. They present a higher risk hazard than baby safety gates with doors as you may trip, and they are also inconvenient in a high traffic area. However, these gates are nice if you’re looking for something that’s easy to set up in various locations in your house or take along with you when you’re showing off your baby at your friend’s house (and getting some adult conversation for a change).

The Regalo Easy Fit Plastic Adjustable Extra Wide Gate is a standard, sturdy baby safety gate. Although lacking in bells and whistles as far as features go, it’s easy to install and remove as a pressure-mounted gate. It’s expandable and can be customized to fit spaces between 26 and 42 inches. It’s 23 inches tall, which is a good height for most adults to step over easily, although some older children might have trouble climbing over it. If you want to use the gate to keep pets enclosed, it would deter most pets although larger dogs and adventurous cats could leap over it. It is made of high quality plastic, is lightweight, and easy to transport if you want to take it with you when travelling.

We like:

  • Spans 26 to 42 inches and is 23 inches tall
  • Easy to install and remove, no tools required
  • Sturdy
  • Customizable to fit variety of doorways

We don’t like:

  • Tripping hazard, inconvenience of stepping over a gate

The Evenflo Soft and Wide Gate is also a sturdy pressure mounted gate with easy installation. We’ve chosen to highlight this gate because it fits larger openings than standard gates, stretching from 38 to 60 inches. It is made of soft, neutral cloth that would fit with a wide variety of home decor, and is composed of mesh so your home doesn’t feel closed off. At 27 inches tall, it is simple for most adults to step over. It is also lightweight if you want to move it around and machine washable.

We like:

  • Fits large spaces, from 38 to 60 inches and is 27 inches tall
  • Stylishly blends in with decor
  • Easy to install, move, and clean

We don’t like:

  • Higher tripping hazard, inconvenience of stepping over gate

Pressure-Mounted

Pressure-mounted gates are an excellent choice if you need a baby safety gate which closes off restricted hallways and bedrooms. They are generally cheaper than hardware gates and easier to install, because they require no tools. This means they won’t leave ugly holes in your walls either. Just don’t use pressure-mounted gates at the top of your stairs, where there’s a risk of your infant (or any adult) leaning against the gate and toppling through.

The Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Gate is a basic and functional gate. It’s easy to install and doesn’t require any tools. It’s also gentle on your paint and won’t leave ugly nail marks in your walls. This gate includes a safety-lock feature and has a simple handle for adults to operate. It’s also lightweight and easy to take travelling with you or on visits to grandma’s place, so you won’t give her conniptions that your toddler will wander into her craft room. The gate is a little bit narrower than we’d like, and the door only swings one way. However, it’s a great value and sturdy gate for a low price.

We like:

  • Spans width of 29 to 39 inches, and is 30 inches tall
  • Easy installation, simply to move around house or take travelling
  • Easy to operate
  • Safety-lock feature

We don’t like:

  • Narrow gate
  • Door only swings one direction

This Safety 1st Easy Install Metal Baby Gate with Pressure Mount Fastening is also a sturdy pressure mounted gate with some added features. This gate includes an indicator light which tells you when the gate is locked securely and also when it might need some adjustment to ensure it’s mounted securely. The door swings both directions, and it doesn’t automatically close, which is nice if you’re passing through often such as when you’re unloading your vehicle after a vacation (or trip to Costco. So many diapers!). It’s also easy to install, but it can take a bit of practice to get the hang of opening the latch with one hand.

We like:

  • Spans 29 to 38 inches
  • Easy installation with no drilling into walls
  • Indicator light tells you if the gate is locked and operating securely
  • Door doesn’t automatically swing shut

We don’t like:

  • Can be a touch difficult to open

The Summer Infant Step to Open Gate doesn’t have a traditional handle but instead opens from pressure applied on a foot pedal. This is a great gate for anyone with a disability or who often has their hands full and needs a way to get through their baby gate. It’s hands free, and the door closes automatically behind you. It’s great for any time you’re carrying groceries, laundry, your baby, or all three at once. The foot pedal requires a good deal of pressure, so you don’t have to worry that your baby will sit on it and accidentally open the gate. One slightly annoying trait of this gate is that the automatic door swings shut rather loudly and quickly, so if you’re not swift enough it might hit you. But the gate is sturdy, stylish to look at, and is a great hands-free option.

We like:

  • It spans 30 to 45 inches wide and is 32 inches tall
  • It operates hands-free with an easy to operate foot pedal
  • Sturdy, stylish, and easy to install

We don’t like:

  • Noisy clang when it shuts
  • Can swing closed rather quickly
  • Doesn’t have to option of staying open

Hardware

Hardware gates are generally slightly more expensive than pressure-mounted gates and more difficult to install. However, they are safe to use at the top of stairs, so the extra effort and holes in your wall are worth the peace of mind you’ll have knowing your infant is safe. The following types of baby safety gates are the most sturdy and secure.

The Evenflo Easy Walk Thru Top of Stairs Gate is a standard, good quality hardware gate designed specifically for installation on top of the stairs. The door swings both ways, but it includes a doorstop so that the gate doesn’t swing out over the stairs. It also is made without the bottom threshold found on many pressure-mounted gates, which can be a major tripping hazard. The handle requires two motions to open the door, which is easy for adults to manage with one hand but can be difficult for children.

The door doesn’t automatically lock, which can be convenient at times when you’re passing through often such as when you’re carrying in groceries or moving furniture. The gate is durable and can withstand the door being kicked or slammed shut. So that you can be sure that the gate is locked securely, one handy feature this gate includes is a red and green light indicator. One negative aspect that has been observed about this gate is that over time it can become somewhat loose. Fortunately, the red (danger) light will indicate this and some minor readjustment of the hardware may be necessary.

We like:

  • Spans 29 to 42 inches and is 30 inches tall
  • Doorstop to keep door from swinging over stairs
  • No bottom threshold, so limited tripping hazard
  • Door can stay open if you like
  • Red and green light indicator to let you know when gate is locked securely
  • Easy to install
  • One-handed use to open and close gate

We don’t like:

  • Gate can become somewhat loose over time

The KidCo Safeway Gate is a durable and sturdy metal safety gate designed specifically for use at the top of the stairs. This gate fits narrow staircases and spaces that may be difficult to block, as it spans 24.75 through 42.5 inches. It has a doorstop to prevent the door from swinging out over the stairs, can be opened easily with one hand, and has an option of staying open when needed. It’s great for the top of the stairs because it lacks the bottom threshold found on pressure-mounted gates, which poses a tripping hazard. Installation is fairly basic and straightforward, and the quick-release hardware allows you to remove the gate easily if you want it out of the way. It is good value for a sturdy and reliable gate. It even includes hinge-side hardware so that it can be mounted on an angle if necessary. You can also purchase the optional stairway installation kit if you have banisters, which includes hardware that will save your wooden railing from drilling holes.

We like:

  • Spans 24.5 to 42.5 inches
  • Fits narrow and wider stairways/doorways
  • Easy installation and quick release hardware to remove gate
  • Sturdy metal painted either white or black
  • Hinge-side hardware to mount gate on angle
  • Easy to operate with one hand
  • Works with optional stairway installation kit

The Munchkin Auto Close Modern Baby Gate is a stylish and effective baby safety gate that combines function and aesthetics. Made of both metal and wood, this gate is sturdy but also can complement your home design. It can be used as a pressure-mounted gate but also includes hardware options, so it can be used in different areas throughout your home. Just take care to step over the bottom threshold when the gate is open, especially if you mount it at the top of the stairs. It also automatically closes behind you with a reassuring click, which can be helpful when your hands are full. One negative aspect of this gate is that it’s slightly difficult to open if you haven’t mastered the technique, as it requires you to press down on a button as well as lift a latch. The plastic hinges also seem cheap compared with the rest of the high quality materials. Keep in mind that if you’re using this gate for pets, some puppies known to be chewers might make a mess of your stylish wooden gate.

We like:

  • Spans 29.5 to 40.5 inches
  • Stylish metal and wood design
  • Can be both pressure-mounted and hardware
  • Automatic locking system

We don’t like:

  • Bottom threshold is tripping hazard
  • Difficult latch to open
  • Slightly flimsy (but easy to replace) plastic hinges

The Summer Infant Anywhere Decorative Walk-Thru Gate is also stylish, with a high quality charcoal metal and walnut wood design. It is taller than many other gates, sitting at 30 inches high, which makes it ideal for taller babies or larger dogs. It has the option of being pressure-mounted or contains hardware for more sturdy security. The door swings either way but has a doorstop feature for on top of stairs so that it doesn’t swing out. Installation is simple and quick. Because it is made to function as a pressure-mounted gate, it has a bottom threshold that can be a tripping hazard if it’s mounted at the top of the stairs or installed above baseboards. The latch is easy to operate with one hand, and it doesn’t automatically close, although it does contain a dual-locking system for added security.

We like:

  • Spans 28 to 42.5 inches and is 30 inches tall
  • Stylish and sturdy metal and wood pattern
  • Easy installation
  • Dual-locking system that’s easy to operate with one hand
  • Can be used anywhere in house as both pressure-mounted or hardware gate
  • Door swings both ways but has an optional doorstop for at the top of the stairs

We don’t like:

  • Bottom threshold could be a tripping hazard

The Munchkin Loft Aluminum Hardware Mount Baby Gate for Stairs, Hallways and Doors is a sleek and modern baby gate made of high quality aluminium that would effortlessly blend into the style of any modern home. One of the features included in this gate is an Integrated Tuning System that makes width adjustments, which means the frame of the gate can be secured to walls that are uneven. The gate can also be easily slipped out of the brackets that secure it to the wall in the event of company (although why would you want to hide such a pretty gate?). It is also easy to open with one hand, and includes a dual-locking system on the handle.

Because it doesn’t have a bottom threshold, it can be hung above the floor, which is nice if you have baseboards in the way of the wall-mounted brackets. The downside of this gate is that installation can be pretty tricky. Wall mounts must be screwed in first and then the gate slides down into the fittings, but sometimes it gets caught on the screw heads. If a decoration is hanging on the wall above the gate, it might have to be removed as well so you can slide the gate down properly. Additionally, the door swings both ways, providing you with a large space to pass through, but which can be annoying if you’re planning to use it at the top of the stairs. It’s also expensive as far as baby gates go, although the price is justified if you’re prioritizing style and good quality material.

We like:

  • 26.5 to 40 inches
  • Stylish, lightweight, and good quality aluminum structure
  • Integrated Tuning System for uneven walls
  • Easy to operate, has option of quick removal

We don’t like:

  • Tricky installation
  • Higher price than most baby safety gates

If you like a discreet baby gate that’s not always in the way, the Summer Infant Retractable Gate may be the option for you. It can be installed anywhere in your home, including precarious spots like the top of the stairs. This gate includes a strong mesh screen with a classy pattern that can be retracted into the hardware mount along the wall when it’s not needed. It can be opened and closed with one hand once you understand how the dual-locking system works. While it is the best in the market for retractable gates, it can be cumbersome to operate with one hand and has a habit of sagging instead of retracting completely after prolonged use.

We like:

  • Can fit openings up to 50 inches wide and is 30 inches tall
  • Discreet gate that can be tucked away when not in use
  • Sturdy and easy to operate

We don’t like:

  • Not as durable as plastic, metal, or wood gates

The Dreambaby Retractable Gate is another retractable option. I would recommend it if you are the type of person to read directions to install it properly. Using it involves pressing and turning a handle, which can be tedious to accomplish with one hand. It stretches up to 55 inches, and can be used indoor and outdoor. It also comes with extra mounting brackets so you can easily clip and unclip the screen and reposition it in another area of house. Unfortunately it’s very noisy when it retracts, which you definitely don’t want once your baby is finally sleeping.

We like:

  • Can cover larger width of 55 inches
  • Discreet retractable gate that can be kept out of the way
  • Comes with extra mounting brackets so it can be moved around the house

We don’t like:

  • Tricky installation
  • Difficult to operate with one hand if you’re not accustomed to it
  • Noisy

Large Size, funny shape gates

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, traditional baby safety gates just aren’t doing the trick in your home. Perhaps you have an open concept home and you need to close off an area that’s not connected by a small hallway or doorway. The following types of baby safety gates take those circumstances into account and block off any potentially hazardous situations from which you want to protect your little sweetie.

The Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco Extra Tall Walk-Thru Gate is a stylish and functional gate for anyone who needs something a little taller than the average gate. At 36 inches tall, this gate will dissuade the most tenacious babies and large bounding dogs. It is a pressure-mounted gate with hardware options, making installation easy, and it includes an optional doorstop in case you want to use it at the top of the stairs. The arch over the gate is aesthetic, and it comes in bronze and beige metal. The walk-through opening itself is slightly narrower than most, at 17 inches wide, so if you’re carrying anything bulky you might have to become used to angling yourself through the opening. It also automatically closes behind you, which is great if you want peace of mind that the gate is closed.

We like:

  • Tall, at 36 inches, and spans 28.5 to 45 inches wide
  • Pressure-mounted or hardware mount options
  • Stylish
  • Gate automatically closes behind you

We don’t like:

  • Narrow gate width
  • Doesn’t have the option of staying open for the times when your baby is asleep

The Cardinal Gates Stairway Angle Baby Gate is an excellent gate for installation at awkward angles. Let’s face it, not every stairway and doorway you’d like to close off is exactly parallel. Or perhaps you have a stud or an outlet in the way and need to install your gate at an angle. If you have uneven banisters at the top of the stairs, for example, this gate can be mounted at up to 30 degrees. It’s sturdy, lightweight, and the latch is easy to use once you’ve practiced a couple of times. The gate swings in both directions but has a door stopper for on top of the stairs. It’s made of strong and light aluminium with either a white or black powder coated finish. We like that it doesn’t have any flimsy and breakable plastic pieces. The installation instructions are clear, but they can be time-consuming to get right as angled installations are a little tricky.

We like:

  • Spans 27 to 41.5 inches wide
  • Can be a pressure-mounted or hardware gate
  • Fits into angled spaces of up to 30 degrees
  • No breakable plastic pieces

We don’t like:

  • Seems a tad expensive for a reasonably basic gate
  • Tricky installation

The Regalo 192-Inch Super Wide Adjustable Gate and Play Yard is a versatile gate that can be used to close up large spaces and open-concept homes where there may be no narrow doorways or hallways. It comes with eight panels that can fit almost any opening, even those with funny angles. It can wrap around hazards like woodstoves and fireplaces, and can be folded into an octagonal play area for your child, enclosing an area of 19 square feet. The gate has a safety-locking feature and it includes wall mounts to make it extra sturdy. The panels are detachable and fold up flat so you can pack it away easily when you’re not using it. Unfortunately, we found you have to always use an even number of panels, so it’s not as versatile as you might hope.

We like:

  • Sturdy, lightweight gate that closes off large area of up to 19 square feet
  • Great value for the amount of material you receive
  • Can fold up into a play area
  • Includes wall mounts to make it extra sturdy

We don’t like:

  • Although panels you aren’t using can be removed, you always have to remove two at a time, which isn’t always ideal
  • The gate only opens in one direction

The Carlson Extra Wide Walk Through Pet Gate with Small Pet Door is a great gate for your lifestyle if you’re sharing your home with children and pets. Perhaps you’d like to keep your baby away from the litter box, but definitely don’t want to block your kittie from doing its business. Or maybe you sometimes need to separate your cat and dog when they’re seeing too much of each other and driving you crazy. The opening in this gate is too small for a child to crawl through, but perfect for cats. It’s a pressure-mounted gate, so it’s easy to install and requires no tools. It’s made completely out of steel, so you don’t have to worry about it being destroyed by sharp little teeth. It’s also expandable, to fit wider openings. Because your pets are not “one size fits all,” some pet owners have noted that the cat gate is too wide and small dogs can slip through, or at least attempt to slip through and get stuck. If this is the case, bear in mind that you might have to make some easy adjusting to the gate so that only the cat can get past and the dog is dissuaded.

We like:

  • Spans 29-37″ and stands 30″ tall
  • Small 7″ by 10″ door keeps the traffic in your home flowing if you’re sharing it with dogs, cats, and babies
  • Pressure-mounted, no tools required, easy installation
  • Includes a 6 inch wide extension kit for larger spaces
  • Made of lasting and durable steel design

We don’t like:

  • This gate is made for average-sized pets, so some adjustments to the gate might be necessary to fit the needs of your fur babies. It doesn’t work for every family.

We hope our thorough description of the best types of baby safety gates helped to make your choice easier when selecting a safety gate that best suits your needs. Finding a gate that works for you can be frustrating if you don’t know what each gate is best used for, and where it should be used in your house. Now that you know a little more about each gates’ features, you’ll be happy to know your baby-proofed home is secure for your infant to start learning and exploring within his boundaries.

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