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Best Baby Gates

By: Kelly Burgess on September 12, 2017

The best baby gates

The Summer Infant Multi-Use (Est. $60) is a parent favorite for several reasons. With a bronze or beige finish and arched gate, it's easier on the eyes than other models, but it's also easy to use. It can be pressure- or hardware-mounted, and can span openings from 28 to 48 inches wide.  

Reviewers say the Multi-Use Decorative gate is sturdy and stable even when shaken or scaled by a determined toddler. Because it's 34 inches tall (36 at the top of the arch), it's well-suited for families who need to keep older, taller toddlers or kids from a certain area. While the gate does include hardware that allows it to be more securely mounted to block stairs, some reviewers expressly warn against it. That's because they say the opening is too narrow to easily navigate at the top of the stairs, and there's also a bar along the bottom of the gate's opening that could pose a tripping hazard.

The Multi-Use Decorative gate has a convenient auto-close feature, a nice bonus for busy parents who may forget to latch the gate after rushing through. Reviewers do have a small quibble here: They say the gate is quite noisy when it slams shut. On the bright side, most say installation is easy and, because the gate is tall, there's little need for most adults to stoop down to operate the latch. Meg Collins of LuciesList.com calls that latch "really easy to open with one hand and intuitive for guests," unlike many of the other gates she's tried. Reviewers agree, but several complain that the opening itself, roughly 17 inches wide, is too narrow to squeeze through with laundry baskets or grocery bags. A stopper prevents the gate from opening in both directions, but it's easily removed.

The Regalo Easy Step Extra Wide Walk Thru Gate (Est. $45) shares some of the high points of the Summer Infant Multi-Use Decorative gate, but at a more budget-friendly price. Made of utilitarian-looking white metal, it's definitely not as pretty, and it can only be pressure-mounted, so it's not for the top of the stairs. This gate can span openings from 29.5 to 44 inches with included 4- and 6-inch extensions.

At 31 inches tall, the Regalo Easy Step is a bit shorter than the Summer Infant gate. Reviewers say it's plenty tall enough to foil young toddlers, but probably not the best choice for corralling slightly older children. Still, it's reportedly sturdy enough to withstand intrepid climbers and other jail-break attempts, with a latch that foils little hands. Some reviewers complain that using the extensions make it a bit less stable, however.

Note that "extra wide" does not describe this gate's opening: At roughly 16 inches, it's even more narrow than the Summer Infant's, and some may even need to negotiate it sideways. The Easy Step latch gets mixed reviews: Some parents say they can use it with one hand, but others say that's tricky and it's much easier to operate with both hands. Reviewers say installation is easy and, while some wish for a self-close feature, others appreciate having the choice to leave the gate open when small children aren't around.

Wide baby gates can block off open areas

Basic baby gates are convenient, but they aren't enough for larger doorways, wide-open kitchens, large hearths and other tricky hazards. In these cases, wide baby gates that can protect irregular doorways and spaces may come to the rescue.

Reviewers say the Evenflo Soft and Wide Gate (Est. $45) is an easy, inexpensive way to block off larger openings between rooms. Comprised of a metal frame with a fabric barrier, this pressure-mounted gate can be stretched to cover openings from 38 to 60 inches wide.

The Soft and Wide gate is very stable, users say, and it can't be shaken loose or scaled by small toddlers. However, it does not have a walk-through opening for parents, which means that it can trip up parents attempting to step over it too quickly. For that reason, it's not the best for high-traffic areas. It also measures just 27 inches tall, which means taller toddlers and older children could be able to climb over sooner than later.

On the bright side, the Soft and Wide is quick and easy to install between two solid surfaces and typically doesn't cause any paint damage. It can also be removed and stowed against a wall when not in use. Because it's so easy to put up and take down, it can be a good option for families who need a baby gate while they're on the road. Babies can lean against the gate comfortably and can see through it easily, and reviewers say it's easy to wipe greasy hand and face marks from the fabric, too.

If you're looking for something more attractive and parent-friendly than the Soft and Wide, the North States Deluxe Décor Gate (Est. $70) is a more traditional baby gate with a door that can span openings up to 72 inches wide. If you need something even wider, add the North States Supergate Deluxe Décor Extension (Est. $35) – up to six of these can be used to span openings more than 13 feet wide. The gate comes in brown and off-white, and the door is slightly arched.

The Deluxe Décor is 30 inches high, so it stands a better chance of foiling an intrepid climber than the Evenflo Soft and Wide. The gate also has pivot points that allow it to be installed on angled walls. And once installed, it's very sturdy, parents say. However, since it must be hardware mounted to the wall, it's a better bet for a permanent installation. Most reviewers say installation is easy, and newer versions of the gate adjust to account for baseboard molding.

Meg Collins of Lucie's List praises the Deluxe Decor for its "easy one-hand operation, stay-open feature and double locking system" and says the gate was sturdy enough even for outdoor use (though that's not recommended by the manufacturer). The opening of the Deluxe Décor Gate is nice and wide at 25.5 inches, so parents can fit through without any gymnastics, even with a baby or a laundry basket on their hip.

If you've got an abnormally shaped opening to block off, or you simply need to safely corral a baby in an impossible-to-childproof space, the North States 3-in-1 Metal Superyard (Est. $110) can function as both a play yard and a baby gate. It has 24-inch-wide panels that can span up to 12 feet or form a 10-square-foot enclosure. An optional 2-Panel Extension (Est. $45) can increase that space to 19 square feet.

Built of sturdy metal, the 3-in-1 Metal Superyard is stable and well-balanced when used as a freestanding play yard or in a half-moon position, users say. The panels, all 30 inches high, interlock with hinged attachments, making it possible to angle them for greater stability. Reviewers also say the Superyard works well mounted on a wall, but some say the included plastic mounting hardware is too flimsy, causing them to opt for higher-quality hardware or professional installation. Users say the double-action locking mechanism is easy for an adult to open, but too hard for a child. The Superyard's vertical spindles thwart eager climbers, and parents report that the panels don't collapse during climbing attempts.

According to parents, it's easy to assemble the 3-in-1 Metal Superyard. The panels are attached via poles in plastic sleeves that can be loosened to make adjustments or remove a panel, or tightened to create a rigid angle between two panels. Tightening the connections maintains the stability and shape of the enclosure, but parents warn that moving the gate while the connections are tightened can break the connection sleeves. Most users say that the gate is easy to open with one hand, but the opening is narrow. The gate does not swing shut, which is convenient for parents who want to leave it open when kids aren't present, but it requires greater diligence when kids are around. Many parents report that it is easy to fold and unfold the gate, but those using many panels say it can be heavy and cumbersome.

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