Looking to start baby-proofing your home in 2020? We researched more than 20 baby gates before choosing 8 competitors for extensive side-by-side testing in real homes. We tested each gate for stability, ease of use, and ease of installation. We included a variety of gate styles and types with different mounting methods and sizes using them across hallways, rooms, doorways, and other openings to bring you the details you need to find the best gate for your mobile baby.
Best Baby Gates of 2020
The Cumbor 43.3" Auto Close Safety Baby Gate is a straightforward, standard gate that is simple to set up and easy to use. It isn't an eyesore, even if it isn't particularly stylish, and it will go with most interior decor. The Cumbor is easy to set up with pressure mounts and features auto-close, lock open, and two-way swing capability. The gate has an easy and secure latch system, and extensions can be purchased to make it wider. The pass-thru gate is fairly wide at 23.6 inches and suitable for most adults to move through without difficulty, which is not true of all competitors. This gate installs using pressure (suitable for non-critical locations) or screwed in place wall cups (for critical safety locations like stairwells).
The Cumbo has a trip crossbar at the bottom that is relatively standard on most pressure mount gates. This bar can cause tripping if you don't know it is there or forget to step over it. Tripping can result in injury or the gate dislodging from the opening. While some users report that their gate came missing parts, we didn't experience this, and many retailers like Amazon have easy return policies. This gate is also not suitable for all opening sizes (will not fit 35-37.8") as the sizes of the extension panels limit it. While it may not be perfect for every scenario, this gate is good at what it does, and if it fits your opening, we think you'll find it up to the baby proofing job.
The Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Baby Gate gets the job done and includes a certification from both JPMA and ASTM. This gate includes a safety lock to increase toddler-proofing and feels durable and strong with additional extensions available to increase the size. It is lighter weight than some of the competition and easily moves if you use the pressure cups instead of hardware.
While some testers feel this gate is easy to assemble, others experienced missing parts and parts that didn't go together smoothly, and in our experience, it is one of the most convoluted in the groups. The walkthrough portion of the gate is surprisingly narrow at only 16" wide, and some adults may not be able to get through without turning sideways, which could be a deal-breaker for some. Also, this gate has a typical trip bar on the bottom, but it is a common design found in most gates, though some report this one is two pieces, and it isn't as stable as one-piece designs. This gate only swings one way, and some users feel the latch is hard to use and can require two hands. While this option has a few issues, we think the price makes it an attractive option for many families, and most issues are obvious upon setup and can quickly be returned if it doesn't meet your expectations.
The gate opening on this option only swings one way, and there is no real "lock" to prohibit inquisitive, older toddlers from opening the gate. However, it does require pressing the button to open the gate, which is enough to prevent younger and less gregarious toddlers from getting through. We really like this large gate and everything it has to offer. While you need tools to screw it in place and it won't pressure mount, it does a great job solving the awkward angle or wider opening problem faced in some houses.
This warm and inviting stairway gate is easy to use and simple in its straightforward design. This gate mounts to the wall using screws and has an attachment point you mount on the opposite wall or banister. This gate requires hard mounting, but the directions are adequate enough that installation isn't too challenging. We think the latch is easy to operate even though it requires lifting the gate once it is unlocked to move. This gate is very adjustable with two parts sliding against one another for a custom fit as opposed to extensions that can be somewhat lacking. The gate opening is wide, and it swings both ways for easy pass-thru.
Special care should be taken when mounting this gate to limit the space under the gate. Without the dreaded trip bar, little ones could slide under a gate installed too high, which could be dangerous with stairs on the other side. Also, we don't think it is a good idea for a gate to open out and over stairs as this could accidentally happen if a baby places enough on the gate. However, the majority of stairway gates share this design, and we like the look and feel of the finished wood gate and the easy latch that comes with it.
The Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco Extra Tall Walk-Thru Gate is a nice looking taller gate to prevent little ones from trying to go over. It can be pressure mounted in place or installed with hard mount screws. The gate is easy to install, easy to use, and sturdy using either installation method. We like how straightforward this option is and the fancier curved top that makes it somewhat more pleasing to the eye than a traditional gate you typically find at the big box stores.
This gate has a fairly narrow opening, which could be challenging for larger adults. It also has the standard trip bar along the bottom that is common in almost every modern baby gate. This gate only swings one way, and it has a top and bottom latch that require a thumb shift and lift up to operate, but it isn't hard to accomplish once you get a few turns under your belt. While this gate may not be perfect, it is a good looking, easy to use option that can be the problem solver for escape artist toddlers or larger pets you're trying to keep from your baby.
This stained wood and metal gate has a more stylish look than most of the competition fitting in with home decor better than traditional metal or plastic gate might. It installs easily with pressure mounts and includes a small wrench to help turn the adjustment knobs on the mounting circles. The gate is relatively stable once installed, and the door opens both ways with one hand. It has a child lock you shift with your thumb to release the gate and then lifts up and off the floor crossbar to swing in the direction of your choice. This gate feels durable and was tested in one home for over two years with giant dogs proving it can withstand the typical toddler without much trouble.
This gate has a relatively standard floor crossbar that can cause tripping if you aren't used to it. However, this design is standard on all pressure mount gates and many hardware mount gates as well. It also can get somewhat unstable the more extensions you use, so for wider openings, it might be easier for a hearty or active toddler to coax it out of the opening. Overall, we like the way this gate looks and its ability to stand the test of time with useful features like a one-handed child-lock and swinging both ways. We think most families will find much to love with this high-end option.
This versatile gate can be hard-mounted to the wall across a wide opening up to 192 inches wide, or it can be set up as a play yard. The multi-panel gate system can be rotated and moved as needed but it only comes with one set of hard mounting plastic brackets and screws if you plan to set it up in one location. If you have a wide opening as often found in homes with open floor plans, this could be one of the few baby-centric options that aren't colorful or intended for pets. The opening on this gate swings both ways and there is a lock on the gate that can be operated with one hand and some practice. There are also bottom turn-style safety locks on the bottom to help dissuade toddlers who figure out the top latch.
This wide opening barrier has a very narrow walk-through gate, which many adults may find too small to pass through naturally. Even a tester of only 120 lbs and 5'7" tall had to turn sideways to avoid bumping the edges when walking through. As a play yard, this product is somewhat small, and only stationary children or babies just learning to crawl will find the size suitable; older toddlers will be frustrated by the limited real estate it creates and the lack of space for multiple toys. While this gate has a smaller opening and is better as a barrier than play yard, we think it is one of the best options going to cover a wider distance and parents with this problem will like what it has to offer.
This foldable mesh gate is super small and can stuff into a diaper bag with ease. If you use a removable sticky wall mount like a Command Strip, it can be easily set up and taken down in new locations without much hassle. It is somewhat stable, and depending on the situation, it can fit much smaller openings than its full size if there is room to mount the corner further down a wall. The Magic Mesh also works without permanent holes or potential damage to walls if used correctly. It also has the lowest price in the group, making it a useful, cost-effective solution for many situations.
This gate takes some time to set up with some assembly required. It is also not the best at keeping Houdinis inside and is best used when a parent is nearby to monitor the situation or if it's blocking a non-dangerous space. While not perfect for all situations or openings and we wouldn't suggest you use it near stairs, we do think it can be useful for temporary blocking areas when away from home.
Why You Should Trust Us
We've been testing all kinds of baby gear for over 7 years, buying and testing each item hands-on and with real families and little ones. We bring you the details and information you need to make the right buying decision for you and your family with an unbiased analysis. Each gate in this review was assembled and used by Wendy Schmitz, mother of two and Senior Review editor for BabyGearLab since 2014. The gates were tested side-by-side for stability, ease of use, and installation before being used in-situ for an extended time with kids and pets alike.
Analysis and Test Results
We performed a variety of tests for ease of use, stability, and installation rating each gate compared to the competition for everyday use to give you an idea of how well the gates perform in the real world under normal circumstances.
Stability encompasses how well a gate stays in place and whether or not little ones can manage to knock it over or potentially injure themselves, trying to knock it over.
The Magic Mesh Gate is arguably the least stable of the group, and it can potentially be breached by a hearty toddler with determination to push it down or slip through the sides. Also, many of the pressure mounted gates can become unstable the more extensions you add; depending on the strength or determination of your child, the gate can be pushed out of place, which is why we don't recommend them for stair protection. The most stable gates are those that use screws to attach to the door frame, stud, or the wall (drywall anchors). The Toddleroo Deluxe Décor Baby Gate is stable when installed correctly, though the three-panel design can create the opportunity for the gate to shift as you walk through it. Still, it will stay connected to the mounting points. The following additional gates can be mounted using some kind of hardware making them more stable than pressure cup use alone: Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Baby Gate, Summer Deluxe Stairway Wood Gate, Summer Infant Extra Tall Gate, Cumbor Auto Close Safety Baby Gate, and Regalo Super Wide Baby Gate and Play Yard.
Ease of Use
Ease of use testing includes how easy the gate is to use going through it, unlatching it, locking it closed, or locking it open. Some of the latches can be operated one-handed, and others cannot. Some have narrow gates difficult to pass through while others have gate openings wide enough for dads carrying toddlers to pass with ease.The Cumbo and Toddleroo gates are some of the easiest in the group to use with a wider opening to walk through, one-handed latches, and relatively quick setups. The Summer Deluxe Stairway Simple to Secure Wood Gate is also easy to use for a stairway gate, as those tend to be more challenging thanks to stronger safety concerns. The Summer Decorative Wood & Metal 5 Foot Pressure Mounted Baby Gate and the Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco Extra Tall Walk-Thru Gate are somewhat more challenging as you need to unlock the gate and lift it up to move it; however, neither is difficult.
Ease of Installation
How easy a gate is to install varies from gate to gate and seems to be a primary reason that parents return gates to retailers. While none of the gates is impossible to install, and many manufacturers offer videos to help users, some still require a little bit of patience or tools to finalize the proper installation. The gates are either pressure mounted or hard mounted using screws that come with the gate, and the Magic Mesh uses stick in place hooks. Pressure mounting can cause damage to paint and walls over time, but hard mounting means putting permanent holes in the wall. What type you need and what kind of impact it has on your home will be up to you and the gate you choose. For stairways and entrances into potentially dangerous areas, we believe hard mounting is safer as pressure mounted gates are more likely to fail under the weight of pushy toddlers. However, the occasional failure might be acceptable in areas where little ones are being monitored and can't get hurt by anything on the opposite side of the gate.
Many of the gates come with odd wide gaps in the top that makes the gate appear to be broken. This design is intentional and fixes itself when you install the gate properly. While disconcerting at first, it is not a flaw, and there is no need to return the product.
Pressure mounted gates like the Cumbor or the Summer Decorative Wood Gate are quick to set up and use and relatively stable depending on the location. Wider gates and gates at the top of stairwells require hard mounting to function safely. The Summer Deluxe Stairway Gate and the Toddleroo by North States both mount into the wall with screws and are relatively easy, but you will need some tools and be somewhat handy to get the job done. The Magic Mesh Gate is the most convoluted installation as it requires more assembly than the competition. Still, its portability makes it unique in this lineup, and the installation is something you'll just have to tolerate if you need something for travel. The Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Baby Gate is also challenging to install as it is the only traditional gate that requires "building" before the setup with at least five parts you need to assemble before you try to mount it in place.
Finding a useful and functional baby gate is often a necessity for families with babies on the move. Whether you need to stop little ones heading down the stairs or prevent them from exploring your kitchen, it is often easier to block off a complete room instead of locking every cabinet or danger zone. However, not all gates are created equal, and finding the right gate for your needs can be more challenging than you think. Once you identify your needs and the size of your opening, you're well on your way to finding the right gate with this lineup of top options.
— Wendy Schmitz