The Best Baby Gate | Reviews by Wirecutter | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

The ideal baby gate is easy to breeze through while you’re carrying a bag of groceries but also an impenetrable obstacle for a toddler.

After talking to four child-proofing professionals and installing and testing 20 baby gates, we think the best one for most situations is the Cardinal Gates SS-30 Stairway Special. (And it’s the best for dogs too.)

We have additional suggestions for those with wide openings, retractable gates, and freestanding enclosures. But we don’t recommend pressure-fit gates; these popular gates are less secure than our picks, not really easier to install, and actually likely to do more damage to your walls.

Our pick

With the most durable frame and latch we tested, this all-metal gate isn’t the cheapest of its kind—but it’s the best value. Opening it is easy for adults, and it’s easier to securely install (in more situations) than its competitors.

The Stairway Special by Cardinal Gates is the only one we tested with an all-metal build, including the latch, making it a very durable gate, one that could even hold the weight of a 180-pound person without having it flex (like the plastic gates did). The latch mechanism is simple for an adult to use, yet confounding to a toddler, and the gate can be easily opened midstride. It can also be set up at an odd angle (unlike the majority of its competitors, which install only perpendicular to a wall), making it a more versatile choice. The Stairway Special is also among the easiest gates to install, needing just four screws and taking less than 20 minutes to complete. Last, it has a swing stop, so the gate can be prohibited from swinging out over a set of stairs.


The North States gate is easy to use and install. It’s less expensive than our main pick, but it has a lot of plastic in the locking mechanism and can’t be set up at an angle.

If our main pick is not available, we also like the North States Easy Swing & Lock Gate. It’s less expensive than our main pick, but it has a plastic latch, so it lacks the strength of the all-metal locking system. It also can’t be set up at an angle, so it will work only in doorways or other areas where it can be mounted perpendicular to the wall. But it’s a snap to install, easier than some to open and shut quietly, and far more secure than comparably priced competitors, including pressure-fit gates.

Also great

The costliest type of gate we recommend uses a sheet of fabric (rather than a swinging gate), so it is good for tight spaces and has a nicer handle and easier latch than other retractable gates.

For a tight space without room for a swinging gate, or if you just prefer a discreet look, we like the Retract-A-Gate by Smart Retract. It’s a piece of mesh fabric that unspools across an opening and hooks on the other side. We looked at three retractable gates, and the Retract-A-Gate stood out for its simpler handle. It was also the easiest to hook in the closed position, and the sheet never got bunched up during testing. The downsides are that it has a multistep lock that can be tedious, and it’s also expensive.

Also great

The Deluxe Decor can fit in an opening up to 6 feet wide and has a larger opening than similar models and a manageable latch.

If you have to gate off a wide opening up to 6 feet, the North States Deluxe Decor Gate will serve you well. It’s like a small fence with a doorway in the middle. We tested three wide-opening models, and the Deluxe Decor really impressed us—it has a large door, plus a latch that’s secure yet easy for parents to use.

Also great

For closing off a larger area like a fireplace hearth, the six-panel North States Metal Superyard offers a nice latch and an easy installation. It can also be configured into a small stand-alone play yard.

For keeping kids from touching wood stoves, fireplaces, AV cabinets, or other dangerous or sensitive areas, we like the North States Metal Superyard. It’s a six-panel adjustable fence, complete with a door panel. The ends can be secured to a wall, or to one another to make a small play yard. The Superyard distinguished itself with a nicer latch and simpler installation than the competition.


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