Baby Essentials

The 5 Best Baby Gates & Top Features To Consider

Updated on 11 September 2022 • 12 minute read

 

Do You Need a Baby Gate?

Babies are curious and are likely to try exploring every inch of your home if you don’t do anything to stop them. That’s both cute and dangerous, mama.

Getting a baby safety gate can be a good idea, even if you’re already done with babyproofing your house, cabinets and doors included. It’s certainly necessary if your home has any form of stairs or ladders to reach other levels.

Baby gates can keep your baby in their nursery, playroom, or away from certain parts of your house (e.g., the kitchen) for your peace of mind.

Which baby gate is the right one for your home?

You can find our recommendations, plus more information about the types of baby gates, factors to help you choose, and other safety tips below.

 

Our Top 5 Choices For The Best Baby Gates

Hardware-mounted Baby Gates

  • Cardinal Gates Model SS-30 Stairway Special ($89.95) – Top-of-stairs baby security gate that swings in both directions, with a childproof one-hand latch system that can mount at an angle of up to 30 degrees, stainless steel hardware (great even for outdoor use), clamps available (sold separately) if you need to attach it to the banister, and extension kit options to increase the width up to 64” 
  • Dreambaby Nottingham 2-In-1 Gro-Gate ($79.99) – 2-in-1 hardware-mount extendable gate that fits openings from 27.5” to 41” without requiring additional extension kits, swings in both directions (when used as a gate), and is approved for use as a top-of-stairs baby gate; can be used for pets and also works as a pressure mount barrier
  • North States Toddleroo Deluxe Décor Gate ($119.99) – Deluxe hardware-mount baby gate with one-hand operation, a barrier gate that swings open on both sides, a stay-open feature, one swinging walk-through panel with a childproof double-locking system, an extra-wide opening (25.5”), expandable up to 162” wide (15” extension kits sold separately, up to six extensions allowed), and with pivot points on the gate panels to mount on straight or angled walls

 

Pressure-mounted Baby Gates

  • Regalo Widespan Extra Wide Baby Gate ($69.99) – Pressure-mount baby gate that expands to fit openings from 29” to 56” without buying additional expansion kits, one-touch release safety lock with multiple-lock features, rubber bumpers, 16” extra wide walk-through design, an all-metal frame, and hardware for wall-mounting (optional); can also be used as a pet gate
  • Graco Premium Walk-Thru Child Safety Gate ($69.99) – Expandable, pressure-mount baby gate (designed for openings 29.5” to 40.5”) with three extensions, rubber bumpers, a gate that opens in both directions but with an option for swing-open mode in one direction, made of steel, and can be used as a gate for small pets

 

Continue reading to learn about each baby gate below.

 

1. Cardinal Gates Model SS-30 Stairway Special

(source: amazon.com)

 

Price

  • Baby gate – $89.95
  • Extension kit (10.5”) – $29.95
  • Extension kit (21 ¾”) – $39.95

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Best features: Top-of-the-stairs gate that opens in both directions, with a childproof one-hand latch system that can mount at an angle of up to 30 degrees to adjust with your drywall, stainless steel hardware, clamps available (sold separately) if you need to attach it to the banister, and extension kit options to increase width up to 64” 
  • Type: Top of stairs hardware-mounted gate (but can also be used in other areas, including door frames)
  • Capabilities: Can be used indoors or outdoors
  • Portability: Not portable
  • One-handed operation: Yes

 

Materials & Safety Features:

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Safety features: The brand claims that the gate opening mechanism can be difficult for toddlers to figure out

 

Other Specifications & Special Features

  • Dimensions: 27” to 42 ½” adjustable gate width, 29 ½” height, and 2 ½” bar spacing
  • Warranty: Not indicated
  • Quality/safety certifications: JPMA (Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association)

 

Product Recall

This product hasn’t been recalled in the US, but it had a recall in Canada in October 2016 for the following reasons: (1)

  • Failure to meet Canada’s requirements for expansion gates (the plastic end caps can pose as choking hazards)
  • Levels of barium (a chemical element) are higher than the maximum allowable limits

 

According to the recall advisory, although some forms of this chemical element are safely used in medical and commercial applications, others can be toxic. It might cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, cramps, or more severe symptoms. (1)

 

Cons

  • Some complaints about the gate parts being misaligned and difficulties in installation and/or latching/unlatching
  • It had a recall in Canada for safety issues.

 

2. Dreambaby Nottingham 2-In-1 Gro-Gate

(source: dream-baby.com)

 

Price

  • $79.99

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Best features: 2-in-1 hardware mount extendable wooden gate that fits openings from 27.5” to 41” without needing additional extension kits, but also works as a pressure mount barrier; swings in both directions (when used as a gate), and is approved for installation on top of the stairs
  • Type: Hardware mount gate or pressure mount barrier
  • Capabilities: Extendable baby gate that can also be used as a pet gate
  • Portability: Portable when used as a pressure mount barrier
  • One-handed operation: Yes

 

Materials & Safety Features:

  • Material: Wood
  • Safety features: Childproof opening
  • Other extra features: Two installation methods are available for different purposes (hardware or pressure mount)

 

Other Specifications & Special Features

  • Dimensions: 27.5” to 41” extendable width, 29.5” height, and 2” in-between bars
  • Warranty: 12 months from date of purchase
  • Quality/safety certifications: Not indicated

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • Some complaints about the gate being difficult to install

 

3. North States Toddleroo Deluxe Décor Gate

(source: northstatesind.com)

 

Price

  • Baby gate – $119.99
  • 15” extension kit – $42.99

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Best features: Deluxe hardware-mount baby gate with one-hand operation, barrier gate that swings open on both sides, stay-open feature, one swinging walk-through panel with a childproof double-locking system, extra-wide opening (25.5”), expandable up to 162” wide (15” extension kits sold separately, up to six extensions allowed), and pivot points on the gate panels to mount on straight or angled walls
  • Type: Hardware-mount baby gate
  • Capabilities: For use in standard or wide door frames, hallways, and extra-wide openings
  • Portability: Not portable
  • One-handed operation: Yes

 

Materials & Safety Features:

  • Material: Steel construction with a decorative matte bronze finish 
  • Safety features: Childproof double-locking system

 

Other Specifications & Special Features

  • Dimensions: 38.3” to 72” in width (expandable up to 162” wide with six 15” expansion kits), 30 inches in height, and 2 ¼” space in between the bars 
  • Warranty: One-year warranty
  • Quality/safety certifications: JPMA and ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • The threshold bar under the gate’s opening can be a trip hazard.
  • It’s more expensive than the other baby gates on our list.
  • Some complaints about the gate parts’ misalignment and small dogs or puppies getting stuck between the bars

 

4. Regalo Widespan Extra Wide Baby Gate

(source: amazon.com)

 

Price

  • $69.99

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Best features: Pressure-mount baby gate that expands to fit openings 29”-56” without needing to buy additional expansion kits, one-touch release safety lock with multiple-lock features, 16” extra wide walk-through design, includes hardware for wall-mounting (if you like that option), and an all-metal frame
  • Type: Pressure-mount baby gate that can also convert to wall-mount (hardware included in the box) for use on door frames and hallways
  • Capabilities: Extendable baby gate that can also be used as a pet gate
  • Portability: Yes
  • One-handed operation: Yes

 

Materials & Safety Features:

  • Material: Metal
  • Safety features: Includes multiple-lock features
  • Other extra features: Includes three expansion kits (one 4” wide, one 8” wide, and one 12” wide)

 

Other Specifications & Special Features

  • Dimensions: 29”-56” expandable width, 30” height, and 2.5” space in-between the bars
  • Warranty: 90-day limited warranty and a 30-day return policy
  • Quality/safety certifications: JPMA and ASTM 

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • Some complaints about the material being flimsy
  • The gate doesn’t expand to just any size from 29” to 56” but has specific fixed widths. 
  • Like other pressure-mount baby gates, it has a potential trip hazard.

 

5. Graco Premium Walk-Thru Child Safety Gate

(source: amazon.com)

 

Price

  • $69.99

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Best features: Expandable, pressure-mount baby gate (29.5” to 40.5”) with three extensions, rubber bumpers, opens in both directions but with an option for swing-open mode in one direction, made of steel, and can be used as a gate for small pets
  • Type: Pressure-mount baby gate
  • Capabilities: Ideal for doorways and hallways
  • Portability: Yes
  • One-handed operation: Yes

 

Materials & Safety Features:

  • Material: Metal alloy
  • Safety features: Double locking system

 

Other Specifications & Special Features

  • Dimensions: 29.5” to 40.5” expandable width, 29.5” height
  • Warranty: 1-year limited manufacturer’s warranty
  • Quality/safety certifications: JPMA

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • Can’t be used at the top of the stairs
  • Possible trip hazard (like other pressure-mount gates)
  • Some complaints about the plastic gate hinge that could easily break

 

Summary & Recommendations

Hardware-mount Gates

Choose Cardinal Gates Model SS-30 Stairway Special ($89.95) if:

  • You prefer a top-of-stairs gate that opens in both directions
  • You want a gate that can be used for different openings, including stairs and doorways
  • You need one with a childproof, one-hand latch system
  • You prefer one that can mount at an angle of up to 30 degrees to adjust with your drywall
  • You need stainless steel hardware for a durable gate that can also be installed outdoors
  • You prefer one that can attach to the banister (clamps available are sold separately)
  • You like that it has extension kit options to increase the width for wide openings up to 64”
  • You don’t mind that it isn’t portable
  • You don’t mind that this baby gate had a recall in Canada for safety issues

 

Choose Dreambaby Nottingham 2-In-1 Gro-Gate ($79.99) if:

  • You prefer a 2-in-1 hardware mount extendable wooden gate that fits openings from 27.5” to 41” (without buying or using additional extension kits)
  • You want a product that can work as either a hardware-mount gate or a pressure mount barrier
  • You need a portable barrier (great for vacations and other trips)
  • You want a baby gate that swings in both directions
  • You like that this product is also approved for installation on top of the stairs
  • You prefer a baby gate that can also work as a pet gate

 

Choose North States Toddleroo Deluxe Décor Gate ($119.99) if:

  • You prefer a deluxe hardware-mount baby gate with one-hand operation
  • You want a barrier gate that swings open on both sides
  • You need one with a stay-open feature (one swinging walk-through panel)
  • You prefer a baby gate with a childproof double-locking system
  • You need a gate that’s expandable up to 162” wide (15” extension kits sold separately, up to six extensions allowed)
  • You like that it has an extra-wide opening (25.5”)
  • You prefer a gate with pivot points on the gate panels to mount on straight or angled walls
  • You don’t mind its higher price tag and might have a trip hazard under the opening
  • You don’t need a gate for the stairs

 

Pressure-mount Gates

Choose Regalo Widespan Extra Wide Baby Gate ($69.99) if:

  • You prefer a pressure-mount baby gate that expands to fit openings 29”-56” (no need to buy additional expansion kits)
  • You want a baby gate with a one-touch release safety lock that has multiple-lock features
  • You like that it has a 16” extra wide walk-through design for easy pass-through
  • You prefer one with included hardware for wall-mounting
  • You’re looking for an all-metal frame with rubber bumpers to protect the wall
  • You want a baby gate that can also be used as a dog gate
  • You don’t mind that it has a possible trip hazard (like other pressure-mount baby gates)
  • You don’t need one for use on the bottom top of the stairs (this one can only be used for doorways and hallways)

 

Choose Graco Premium Walk-Thru Child Safety Gate ($69.99) if :

  • You need an expandable, pressure-mount baby gate (designed for openings 29.5” to 40.5”) with three extensions already included with the purchase
  • You want a baby gate with rubber bumpers to protect your walls
  • You need a gate that opens in both directions but with an option for swing-open mode in one direction
  • You prefer one made of steel
  • You need a baby gate that can be used as a gate for small pets
  • You don’t need to use a gate on the bottom or top of the stairs (this could only be used at doorways)
  • You don’t mind that it has a potential trip hazard (similar to other pressure-mount baby gates)

 

How To Choose The Best Baby Gates

Types Of Baby Gates

Pick the safety gate that suits your needs, budget, and preference from these types:

 

Hardware-mounted Baby Gates

They’re mounted to the walls, banisters, or door frames using hardware, so they’re sturdier and are less likely to be knocked down by your baby or pets.

Top-of-stairs baby gates are usually hardware-mounted. 

Most hardware-mount baby gates have openings that don’t have a bar at the bottom (found in pressure-mount designs) that could potentially become a trip hazard

Safety note: Not all hardware-mounted gates can be used at the top of the stairs. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

 

Pressure-mounted Baby Gates

These baby gates could be easier to install because they don’t require the more complicated installation of hardware-mount gates.

Aside from these major gate types, you can also find options for these subtypes:

 

Swing Through Gates

These gates have openings that swing open, either on one or both sides.

 

Step Over Gates

These gates don’t have a door. They require you to climb over, but these aren’t ideal because the baby gate or barriers should be tall enough (average height is 28” to 32”) to keep your little one from climbing over them.

 

Stair Gates

These gates are especially made for use as barriers on stairs.

Safety note: Check the manufacturer’s recommendations if the product can be used for the top of the stairs before installation.

 

Safety

Your little one’s safety must always be the priority in choosing a baby gate.

Check the product description and the manufacturer’s recommendation before picking and installing any gate on your stairs, especially at the top. Not all baby gates can be used at the top of the stairs.

Most retractable baby gates are pressure-mounted and have bars at the bottom that could potentially become a trip hazard. Never use them on top of the stairs.

 

Product Safety Certifications (JPMA Certification)

It’s important to pick baby gates JPMA certification to ensure that it is safe for use with young children and babies.

 

Childproof & One-handed Operation

It’s essential for you to easily open or close the gate without your baby knowing how to do it.

 

Clear Instructions For Set Up

Most baby gates don’t come pre-assembled but should be easy enough for you to safely set up on your own at home.

 

Versatility

Expandable baby gates are best sellers because they can fit different doorway or hallway sizes.

Some baby gates are also sturdy enough to be used as dog gates or safety gates for small pets.

 

Portability

The pressure-mounted baby gates are usually portable, so they’re ideal if you travel often and need a security gate for your baby while you or other caregivers are in a different location.

 

Average Height

Most baby gates have an average height from 28” to 32”.

Although some security gates could go as high as 36” or taller, they might not be safer than the shorter ones. 

They might be more difficult for your little one to climb, but if the child actually does, a taller gate can have an increased fall risk for them.

 

Price & Good Value For Your Money

Many parents prefer having a baby gate until their babies are at least 24 months old or possibly a bit longer. So, a sturdy gate is important.

While pressure-mounted gates might be less expensive, they aren’t likely to last as long as hardware-mounted gates.

Although more expensive, hardware-mount gates could offer a better value for your money.

 

FAQs

Are Pressure-fit Gates Alright?

Pressure-fit gates can be an option for use in doorways and hallways, but they have several drawbacks:

  • The threshold bar at the bottom of the gate can be a trip hazard.
  • The pressure mounting could actually do more damage to your walls than hardware-mount baby gates over time because the rubber bumpers might dig into your paint and wall material (especially if it’s wood) to create a dent due to the pressure.
  • Over time, the force and tension on the bar could be reduced, making the baby gate unsafe because your little one or pet might knock it over. There’s no hardware to keep it in place.

 

Still, they also have the following advantages:

  • Pressure-mount gates are portable, so they can be a good choice if you’re always on the go, love to travel with your little one, or need to move the gate in various parts of your house.
  • They might be easier to install than hardware-mount gates.
  • They’re slightly less expensive than hardware-mount security gates.

 

What’s The Best Type of Baby Gate?

Although the final choice is still up to you, we recommend choosing hardware-mount baby gates over pressure-mount because:

  • Hardware-mount gates have a sturdier installation that’s harder for babies or your pets to knock down.
  • Most hardware-mount gates don’t have a threshold bar at the bottom that could become a trip hazard.

 

The disadvantages of hardware-mount gates are:

  • They aren’t portable
  • They require certain hardware for installation and might damage your wall, stairs, or door if holes need to be drilled.

 

What Age Are Baby Gates Good For?

Baby gates are best installed if you have little ones between six months and two years old. 

But once your toddler starts to climb the gates, it might be time to remove them. That’s especially true for baby gates on top of the stairs. (2)

If possible, choose a gate without any notches that your child can use for climbing.

 

What’s The Best Baby Gate For Stairs?

Only hardware-mounted gates should be used for the top of stairs, but ensure that the one you pick is designed for this purpose.

While you can use a pressure-mount gate at the bottom of the stairs, it isn’t advisable because the force might damage the banisters, or the gate could still be knocked down, making the stairs accessible to your baby.

 

What Can I Use As A Makeshift Baby Gate?

Here are some ideas:

  • Half doors
  • Barn doors
  • Pallet gates
  • Fabric gates
  • Plywood gates
  • Baby play yards (such as the North States Superyard)

 

Although some blogs feature DIY (do it yourself) PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes as a cheap alternative to baby gates, we advise against using them because PVC can be toxic to your baby. 

PVC contains lead, cadmium, phthalates, and/or organotins (organic compounds with tin) that could lead to liver problems, early puberty in girls (which can increase their cancer risks later in life), and increased risk of testicular cancer in boys. (3)

 

What’s The Difference Between A Pet Gate And A Baby Gate?

These gates are made of similar materials (wood, steel, aluminum, or plastic), but they can’t always be used interchangeably.

In general, baby gates might be used as dog gates if you have small breeds, but for larger dogs, pet gates are preferable because they’re sturdier and are designed to withstand the force these could exert on the barrier.

 

Can Dogs Knock Down Free-Standing Gates?

Small dogs and puppies might not be able to knock down free-standing gates, but these products aren’t ideal for medium-sized and larger dogs who could easily knock these gates down.

 

Are Pet Gates Okay For Babies?

While some pet gates, especially those designed for larger dogs, might be okay for babies, free-standing and smaller gates require constant supervision.

 

Other Baby Gates To Consider

  • Skip Hop Playview Retractable Mesh Gate
  • Munchkin Easy Close XL Metal Baby Gate
  • Baby Delight Span Expandable Folding Gate
  • North States Easy Swing & Lock Gate
  • Retract-A-Gate
  • North States Deluxe Decor Gate
  • North States Metal Superyard
  • Toddleroo by North States Supergate
  • Qdos Extending Safegate 
  • Regalo Wooden Expandable Safety Gate 
  • Baby Delight Span Expandable Folding Gate
  • Munchkin Loft Aluminum Baby Gate
  • Qdos Crystal Clear Acrylic Gate – Pressure Mount
  • Summer Infant Multi-Use Decorative Extra Tall Walk-Thru Gate
  • Evenflo Barn Door Walk-thru Baby Gate
  • Cumbor Auto Close Safety Baby Gate
  • Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Baby Gate 
  • Summer Deluxe Stairway Wood Gate
  • Summer Decorative Wood & Metal Safety Baby Gate
  • Regalo Super Wide Baby Gate & Play Yard
  • Safety 1st Easy Install Walk Thru Gate
  • Mesh Magic Gate
  • Kidco Safeway Top of Stair Baby Safety Gate

 

 

 

References

(1) https://recalls-rappels.canada.ca/en/alert-recall/cardinal-gates-recalls-stairway-special-safety-gate

(2) https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/newsroom/news-releases/2014/05/new-study-finds-number-of-children-treated-in-us-emergency-departments-for-baby-gate-related

(3) https://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/opmrdd/health/pvc.html

 

 

as seen on
We Got You, Mama.

Self-Care Rituals & Self-Love Practices To Support You & Your Family.

[gravityform id="6" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]