Best Baby Gate
The Evenflow Barn Door Walk-Thru gate was a standout choice during testing. Now and then, a product comes along that is so superior compared to the competition that it clearly stands alone and deserves more kudos and praise than the standard contender. This gate is that once in a review product. We were instantly impressed with the quick assembly, the one-hand operation, the color-coded closure, and the self-closing door. This option swings either way and can lock in place to prevent accidental baby escapes or be left to swing both ways. We like the satisfying soft clunk sound when it self-closes, so you know it's closed without visual confirmation. Most of the gate is real wood and looks great with a variety of interior designs. This gate will fit most average size doorways, and it stays put after you tighten the tension mounts. We tested this gate on bedroom and bathroom openings and were very impressed overall.
This product can be a bit more expensive than some of the competition (depending on sales). However, after testing, we feel it is worth the price if your budget allows it. This gate feels like it will last longer than cheaper versions, and the quality is higher than similar contenders. The closing can be somewhat loud when you let it self-close, and it could potentially wake a sleeping baby. However, if you want a softer sound, you can guide the gate in place for a much quieter connection. Overall, we can't say enough positive things about this gate; we absolutely love it, and we think most parents will too.
The Cumbor 43.3" Auto Close Safety Baby Gate is a straightforward, standard baby gate with a simple assembly that is easy to use. This option isn't an eyesore, even if it isn't stylish, and it won't clash with most decor. The Cumbor has pressure mounts and features auto-close, lock-open, and two-way swinging. This choice includes an easy and secure latch system, and you can purchase extensions for wider openings. The pass-thru gate is relatively wide at 23.6 inches and works well for most average-sized adults to pass through, which is not true for all competitors. You can install this option using pressure mounts (suitable for non-critical locations) or hardware with wall cups for safety-critical locations like stairwells.
The Cumbo has a trip crossbar on the bottom that can create opportunities for accidental tripping. However, this feature is relatively standard for pressure-mounted options and something we saw in most competitors. Tripping can result in personal injury or the gate dislodging from the opening and potential damage to the wall or gate. Some users say their gate arrived missing parts, so you'll want to assemble your gate when you get it in case it needs to be returned. This gate is not suitable for all openings (will not fit 35-37.8") as the extension panels' sizes limit the width it can span. We encourage twice measuring your opening to ensure a good fit before you buy. 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 task.
The Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Baby Gate gets the job done and includes a JPMA and ASTM certification. This gate includes a safety lock to increase toddler-proofing and feels durable and strong, with additional extensions available to increase the size of your opening is larger than average. 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. This gate has a typical trip bar on the bottom, but it is a common design found in most gates, though 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 Toddleroo by North States 72" wide Deluxe Décor Gate is a 3-panel straightforward gate that articulates to fit odd or wider openings. This gate can also go around smaller fireplaces or wood stoves to protect little ones from hot surfaces or sharp corners. We like how easy this gate is to use with true one-hand operation and a simple button push/lift gate to move. The Toddleroo is lightweight for its size, sturdy, and once hard-mounted, it stays in place well. The gate opening is wide and easy to walk through, and the bottom crossbar is small and easier to cross than some of the competition.
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, and it could be one of the only options that work for wider openings. 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 homes.
This warm and inviting stairway gate is easy to use and has a straightforward design. This option mounts to the wall using screws and has an attachment point you mount on the opposite wall or banister to lock the gate closed. This product is a hard mount-only design, but the directions are good enough that installation isn't challenging, even if you typically find the task daunting. We think the latch is easy to operate even though it requires lifting the gate once it is unlocked. This gate is very adjustable, with two parts sliding against one another for a custom fit instead of extensions that can be somewhat lacking. The gate opening is wide, and it swings both ways for easy pass-thru.
Attention to detail should be taken when mounting this gate to limit the space under the gate. Without the dreaded trip bar, little ones can potentially slide under the gate if you install it too high, which could be dangerous if you have 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 weight on the gate. However, most 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. If you want a hardware-mounted wood gate instead of the more common metal option, this is a good choice for you.
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 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 or moving objects between rooms. 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 requires a thumb shift and lift 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 away from your baby.
This stained wood and metal gate is somewhat more stylish than most of the competition, fitting in with some 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 felt durable and was tested for over two years with giant dogs proving it can more than withstand the typical toddler without difficulties.
This gate has a somewhat typical floor crossbar that can create a trip hazard if you aren't careful. However, this feature is standard on most pressure mount gates and many hardware mount options as well. It also can become somewhat unstable depending on the number of extensions you use, so for wider openings, it could be potentially easier for a hearty or active toddler to push it over. Also, the wood slats can break if enough force is put on them, though it is unlikely the average toddler can manage this feat without help from a canine pal. Overall, we like how 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, stylish option that is arguably less of an eyesore than some traditional gates.
This versatile gate can be hard-mounted to the wall across a wide opening up to 192 inches wide, or it works 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 a single location. If you have a wide opening like those in homes with open floor plans, this could be one of the few baby-centric options that aren't super colorful or intended for pets. The walkthrough opening on this gate swings both ways, and there is a lock on the gate that operates with one hand and some practice. There are also bottom turn-style safety locks on the bottom to help further dissuade toddlers who sort out the top latch design (and some definitely will!).
This wide-opening barrier has a very narrow walk-through gate, which many adults will find too small to pass through naturally, requiring a side step motion through the opening. Even a tester of only 120 lbs and 5'7" tall had to turn sideways to avoid hitting the edges while walking through. As a play yard, this product is small. Only stationary wee ones or babies learning to crawl will find the size suitable; older toddlers will be frustrated by the limited real estate and the lack of space for a variety of toys. While this gate has a smaller opening and is better as a barrier than a play yard, we think it is one of the best options around to cover a wider distance, and parents with an "open floor plan" problem will like what it offers.
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 depending on the situation, and it can fit much smaller openings than its full size if there is room to mount the corner further down the 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 like travel or visiting with relatives.
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 temporarily blocking areas when away from home as long as you can provide supervision as a backup.
Why You Should Trust Us
We've been testing all kinds of baby gear for over 10 years, buying and testing each product 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 baby 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 various 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 we tested, and a hearty toddler can potentially breach it 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 your child's strength or determination, the gate can be pushed out of place, which is why we don't recommend them for stair protection. The most stable gates use screws to attach to the door frame, stud, or 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 gates can also 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. The best pressure-mounted gate is the Evenflo Barn Door Walk-thru Gate which feels so secure it may as well be hardware mounted. Ours didn't shift or even slightly move over several months of use with children of various ages.
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 to move it; however, neither is difficult. The EVenflow Barn Door has a one-hand latch and self-closes so you can walk through and let the gate go so it can do its thing with a satisfying clunk.
The Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Baby Gate is a harder option to use with a clumsy assembly and a lock/latch that claims to be one-handed but is far easier with two. This model's narrow gate makes it challenging to walk through for the average adult and near impossible or impossible for larger parents. It definitely isn't going to work if you are carrying something that hangs down low. Also, because the gate comes in multiple pieces you assemble, it has a rickety feeling not shared by the competition.
Ease of Installation
How easy a gate is to install varies from gate to gate and seems to be a primary reason parents return gates to retailers. While none of the gates are impossible to install, and many manufacturers offer videos to help users, some still require a little patience or tools to finalize the 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 puts 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 gate's opposite side. Most damage that gates cause can be easily repaired with a trip for some supplies to the hardware store.
Several gates come with wide gaps in the top that make the gate appear broken or misaligned. 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 Evenflo Barn Door, 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 mount on the wall with screws and are relatively easy, but you will need some tools 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 review, and the installation is something you'll need to tolerate if you require 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. If you loath the idea of putting something together, then this is not the gate for you.
Selecting the best baby gate is traditionally a must-do gear item for home baby-proofing once your baby is on the move and beginning to explore. Whether you have concerns about your little one taking a tumble down the stairs or preventing the exploration of utensils and cleansers, it is often easier to block access to a specific area instead of locking every cabinet or potential danger zone. Unfortunately, not all gates work well or do what they claim, and finding the right gate for your needs and opening could be more challenging than you think. Once you determine your goals and the sizes you need, you'll be on your way to choosing the best gate for your needs in our lineup of impressive contenders.
— Wendy Schmitz