Once your little one learns how to walk (and even crawl!) it’s time to look at everything your home has and toddler-proof it as best as possible. We aren’t saying that you have to cover everything in bubble wrap, but you should look at every object through a toddler’s eyes and see if it poses a risk to your little one.
This usually involves locking away any cleaning chemicals, putting covers on your electrical outlets, and installing baby gates to prevent your little one from getting into a room they aren’t supposed to.
Baby gates work wonders for babies and pets when you don’t want them to enter a room, or in the case of this article, going up the stairs.
Table of Contents
- Stairs Can Hurt
- Baby Gates and Features to Look for
- The Best Gates
- Regalo Easy Step (Best Budget)
- Summer Deluxe Stairway (Best Wooden Gate)
- Cardinal Gates StairwayAngle Baby Gate 27″-41.5″ (Best for the Top of the Stairs)
- Evenflo Easy Walk Through Top of Stairs (Best for Easy Passing)
- The Stair Barrier Baby and Pet Gate (Best Fabric Gate)
- Bonnlo 73-Inch Configurable 3-Panel (Best Curved Gate)
- ALLAIBB Narrow Baby Gate (Best Gate for Narrow Stairs)
- In Summary
- How We Selected Everything
- Baby Gate Tips and Tricks
Stairs Can Hurt
If your home has stairs, you probably don’t think anything of it. You climb up and down, not blinking as you do so. However, once your baby learns how to move around, you need to look at them from their eyes.
To a toddler, stairs are fascinating. They are a portal to another dimension, and climbing up the stairs feels like scaling a mountain. Because toddlers can run up them carelessly, and they don’t know the risk, they may fall off and be injured.
Your toddler may trip off the first stair and bump themselves a little. Or, they may decide to jump off the stairs from the top, leading to severe injuries. In the worst case, those stairs could be a stairway to heaven, and not in a good way.
It’s estimated that every six minutes, a child hurts themselves on the stairs. It makes sense that having adequate protection for your toddler is important, and baby gates designed for stairs can help.
Baby Gates and Features to Look for
A baby gate is designed to block a child from going up or down the stairs, protecting them from any injury. As you shop for baby gates, they tend to look the same, but not all of them are created equal. When shopping for a gate, here are a few considerations to make.
- Assembly. Some gates are known as tension gates, and they don’t need any assembly. They just squeeze right in. Meanwhile, other gates may require a bit of assembly. For some parents, they want to pop the gate out of the box and use it ASAP, and they may worry about assembling it wrong. However, there are gates that don’t need too much assembly.
- Durable. Toddlers are tougher than you think, and a flimsy gate may not be a match for them. You want a gate that can handle some roughhousing. Most gates are good for the job, but a few models may not be.
- Easy to open for you. You want a gate that is impossible for your toddler to open, but easy for you. Some gates are stubborn for both parties, especially if your hands are full.
- Aesthetically pleasing. Some parents may care about the gate’s appearance. Most gates look like prison bars, but there are some that have a polished wood look to them, like the entrance to a beautiful country ranch.
- If your stairs are spiral, curved, or have another unique shape to them, take a critical look at the gates you’re purchasing. Many are designed for your average stairs that don’t curve, and you want to make sure that the gate will fit.
- Storage. Some gates fold up after use, allowing you to store it with ease. Others may stay in one place. You may not mind this, but if you live in a smaller home, this may be an important consideration.
- Auto close. Some gates close automatically after you open them. If your hands are full, you want to make sure the gate closes behind you so that the toddler doesn’t follow!
- Materials used. Most gates use steel bars, but some may be made from a mesh sheet.
- Know the right type of gate to get. Some gates use pressure mounting, while other gates require you to drill a little. A pressure mounted gate works well on the bottom of the stairs, but if you’re going to install it on the top, you should avoid a gate that is pressure mounted. You want a gate with a top edge that is straight, too.
- Look at the age range. Most baby gates are recommended for 6 months to 2 years. However, some gates do go for up to 3 years. If you have a child who is extra curious, this type of gate may be recommended.
- Lasting value. For a single baby, you don’t need a gate up for long, but what happens when you want to have another kid, or you end up adopting a pet that you’re going to have for 15 years? You want a gate that can last you a long time, in that case.
The Best Gates
With that out of the way, let’s look at some of the best gates for your lifestyle.
Regalo Easy Step (Best Budget)
Baby gates aren’t too pricey, but most are at least $50. If you’re on a budget or just don’t want to spend too much, the Regalo Easy Step is your solution it goes for around $35 on Amazon, making it one of the cheapest around.
- It’s quite wide and tall. If your openings are 29-34 inches or 35-38.5, it should fit. If your opening is between 34-35 inches, the gate won’t fit, so beware. This gate is 30 inches in height, or about two and a half feet. This should be good for toddlers up to 24 months old. With any gate, you always want to measure everything beforehand.
- This gate can be used for various parts of your home. It works for the bottom of the stairs, the doorway, or the hallway.
- It’s easy to remove if you don’t need it at the moment. Then, you can put the gate in the storage spot of your choice.
- It’s quite durable. This gate uses all steel, meaning that your toddler won’t be going anywhere when this gate is in front of them.
- It’s easy to adjust thanks to its spindle rods or extension kit.
- Finally, this gate has various features to give you a little more peace of mind. It uses wall cups, securing the gate in place more, and multiple locks.
- The gate’s lock is annoying for an adult. You can’t use one hand to unlock it, which may be a little bit of a hassle for parents who have their hands full. Ironically, the Amazon page shows a woman opening the gate with a baby in her hand, but many users have reported it’s not that easy.
- It’s a bit cheaply made in some regards. Some users have reported parts that were a bit flimsy and scratched their baby. Always make sure the gate you receive isn’t defective, and don’t hesitate to send a gate back should it not work for you.
Summer Deluxe Stairway (Best Wooden Gate)
Some people may want a gate that has a wooden appearance to it. This makes your gate feel less like something out of a prison and gives it a rustic vibe. One of the best gates for this job is the Summer Deluxe Stairway.
It goes for around $75, but you can find it on Amazon for around $45. Here are its pros and cons.
- A beautiful finish. It does look like old oak, improving your home’s appearance quite a bit, we must say.
- It’s easy to release with one hand. This gate uses a grip handle designed with comfort in mind.
- Great for openings that are 30-48 inches. The gate also stands at about 32 inches, making it good for most toddlers.
- No measuring needed. It comes with a precision fit template to give you the measurements needed.
- The included hardware can make assembly a bit hard to perform. While it may work for most users, some have reported that it’s difficult.
- In some units, the screws may be easily breakable. Always double check the materials included and make sure that everything is in working order. Sometimes, you may get a defective unit.
Cardinal Gates StairwayAngle Baby Gate 27″-41.5″ (Best for the Top of the Stairs)
When buying a stair gate for your baby, you need to decide if it’s for the bottom or top of the stairs. Any gate should work well with the bottom of the steps, but if you need a gate for the top, you need a special one. A pressure-mounted gate is a safety hazard for the top of your stairs.
If you have a basement, having a gate for the top of the steps is especially important. This gate from Cardinal works wonders. It’s a bit pricier, around $71, but it’s worth it. Here are the pros and cons.
- This gate includes a stop bracket, which makes it harder for the gate to open when you install it on the top of the stairs. This gives you a bit of peace of mind whenever you have any safety concerns.
- The latch system is quite childproof. It’s been tested by some of the most rambunctious toddlers around, and it seems like none of them can figure out the latch. Most gates work well in that regard, but some toddlers have mastered a few of them.
- It has a one-handed opening, meaning you don’t need to put down your baby or do anything complex whenever you’re dealing with this system.
- It’s good for angled steps, mounting anything up to 30 degrees. It’s adjustable as well, going from 27”-42.5 inches.
- A bit annoying to install.
- Some users reported missing or defective hardware. However, there is always a chance of this happening.
Evenflo Easy Walk Through Top of Stairs (Best for Easy Passing)
If you’re looking for a gate for the top of your stairs that’s easy for you to pass, yet will keep your child second guessing how to open it, Evenflo is your answer. Here are its pros and cons.
- It’s easy for you to tell if it’s locked or unlocked. This is because of its locking indicator. It is red when it’s closed, and green when it’s open. You can easily double check to make sure your child is protected.
- It’s so easy to open. It’s one of those gates that you can open up with one hand, allowing you to go through it when parenting doesn’t let you relax.
- It has a swing stop installed so you don’t need to worry about swinging it open too hard.
- There’s no floor trip bar, meaning you won’t have to worry about the gate tripping you up.
- Finally, its lock is sturdy and it will prevent your child from accessing it.
- This gate is a bit tough to install, but this is a little subjective.
- You’ll have to latch the gate yourself. It doesn’t self-latch.
- It has pieces made of plastic, and if you plan on using your gate for a while, these pieces may end up failing on you.
The Stair Barrier Baby and Pet Gate (Best Fabric Gate)
Some gates are made from fabrics that are sturdy, but don’t have any hard barriers to them. This gate is a bit pricier, but if you want a gate that is made from fabric, this one is one of the best. Here are some features of the The Stair.
- It’s available in quite a few colors and patterns. No matter what your house looks like, there’s a good chance that you can find a color or pattern that fits your home perfectly.
- It doesn’t require any drilling, and it’s easy for you to stay up. Also, it’s easy for you to put away when you’re done due to the fact that it rolls up with ease.
- The fabric design is sturdy and is much harder for a baby to climb when compared to a traditional gate.
- It’s tested with the strictest standards possible to ensure you a gate that will last you for a long time.
- Some users have had a difficult time opening and closing the gate, especially when they have to climb up and down the stairs at a relatively fast pace.
- Some toddlers may be a bit too big for this gate, so make sure you use it for a younger toddler.
Bonnlo 73-Inch Configurable 3-Panel (Best Curved Gate)
If you’re looking for a curved gate for unique-shaped staircases or other entrances, you can’t go wrong with Bonnlo.
- Easily configurable. This gate is bendable for most openings and for an easy storage method. You can even add or take out panels as needed. It’s a versatile gate that everyone will love.
- It’s easy to open and walk through it. It’s also an auto-close and it can swing in either direction. Like most auto closing gates, it’ll stay open past 90 degrees, so keep that in mind.
- It’s quite sturdy. There are no cheap materials with this gate. It should be able to handle most children and most pets with ease.
- It has a good warranty as well. It’s three years, meaning that it can last for multiple kids, or for a pet.
- Some users have reported that the gate latch isn’t that good.
ALLAIBB Narrow Baby Gate (Best Gate for Narrow Stairs)
Finally, if you have a stairway that’s narrow, normal gates may be a little too big. This gate is much more narrow.
- It’s an auto close gate, and it closes for both sides.
- Its gap is tight enough for babies not to get caught into it.
- It’s a pressure mount, meaning that you don’t need to install it with drilling. Installation is a cinch!
- One reviewer reported missing parts, but most customers have 4 stars or more with their review.
Here are the gates we’ve chosen.
- Best Budget: Regalo Easy Step. This gate is incredibly cheap, and is quite competent. However, there are a few drawbacks, such as the gate not being able to open without two hands, and some signs of low quality materials.
- Best Wooden: Summer Deluxe Stairway. This has a beautiful ancient oak design and fits in with most homes quite well.
- Best for Easy Passing: Evenflo Easy Walk Through Top of Stairs. This gate has a design that makes it easy for parents to ensure that the gate is locked and that they pass by it with ease.
- Best For Top of Stairs: Cardinal Gates. This gate has some extra security to prevent it from opening. In addition, it works for stairs up to a 30 degree angle, making it quite versatile for most types of homes. Give it a try.
- Best Fabric: The Stair Baby and Pet Gate. This is a fabric gate that is extremely easy for you to roll up and store, and it comes in a variety of colors and patterns. In addition, the fabric design means your child will have a harder time climbing up it
- Best Angled Gate: Bonnlo 3-panel. This gate is one of the most versatile around, with the ability to add or remove panels, if you so wish.
- Best Narrow Gate: ALLAIBB besides being easy to install, this gate has other unique features going for it such as its double sided auto close and we highly recommend it if your space is small.
How We Selected Everything
When we choose the gates, we do so through certain criteria. Here’s a list of considerations we make.
When you’re a parent, taking reviews from customers like you into consideration is always important. No matter how good the gate is, there’s going to be an unsatisfied customer.
From getting a dud in the mail to not understanding how to assemble it, you can’t satisfy everyone. However, we only select products that have had a four star or higher score on Amazon.
If it has under 4 stars, this indicates that a chunk of customers had problems with it.
We try not to select from similar types of gates. Instead, we pick one of each specific category. We look for cheap, mesh, wooden, or other types of gates that will give readers quite a bit to pick from.
We try to pick gates that are cheaper, but also some higher budget ones as well. Baby gates don’t have a large price gap, but there are still gates that are cheaper and ones that are a little more expensive. We try to cover both ends.
Baby Gate Tips and Tricks
Installing and maintaining a baby gate isn’t too complicated, but some people struggle with it. Here are some common issues, ways to install, and more.
With any gate, you should always read the manual and learn how to install the gate from there. With that said, there are some general installation tips that are worth following for any gate. Let’s look at a few of them right now.
- First, let’s talk about spacing. Gates are going to have spaces between the floor and the gate’s bottom. It’s important that the spacing is small enough so that your baby can’t squeeze through it or get their head stuck in it. If the opening is more than 2/3 inches in depth it can’t be wider than an inch and a half.
- We can’t stress enough that you should install according to the instructions of the manufacturer. This sounds like common sense, but many people end up cutting corners during assembly or installation. This may work for that couch you got from IKEA, but this is your baby’s safety we’re talking about, and you should make an effort to make sure the gate is as installed as possible.
- When it’s installed, make sure you’re monitoring your baby at first. This is to ensure proper installation. Chances are, your child will give the gate a tough time when they first see it, and by watching your child, this is a good first impression. You can see whether or not the gate gives your child an easy or challenging time, and you can look for any signs of under-installation loose parts. Always give a gate a test run before you run off and think it will protect your baby.
Baby Gate Safety Precautions
In order to get the most safety out of your baby gate, here are some things to remember before and during your purchase.
- First, you may wonder how long you should use the gate. Remove the gate after two years of age, or after your baby reaches the height recommended by the gate’s manufacturer. When your baby is too tall, they can climb over it and injure themselves.
- Make a habit of closing the gates after you go past them. Some parents forget, and all it takes is one mess-up for your baby to make a break for it and possibly injure themselves. Even with self-closing gates, always make sure it’s closed after you move past it. Always check and make sure the gate is properly locked, too.
- Don’t buy gates used. Even if it looks good, it may have worn-out parts and you may not be able to replace or return it. Baby safety goods, in general, should be bought new whenever possible.
- When you adjust a gate, make sure there aren’t any sharp edges that your baby could hurt themselves on.
- For the top of stairs, use a gate that is wall mounted for best results. On the other hand, pressure mounted gates work well for doorways. Pressure gates should not be on top of the stairs because you can trip over them.
- Double check any bolts and see whether or not they need some tightening. Any loose bolts could lead to the gate falling apart.
- Always read the installation instructions and make sure that you’ve installed the gate properly.
- When purchasing a gate, look for a gate that is certified by the JPMA, or Juvenile Products Manufactures Association. This means that the gate meets all the international safety standards and can be used with plenty of peace of mind. You always want a gate that is confirmed to be tested for quality and is proven to work.
- When you’re purchasing a mesh gate, check the holes. You don’t want the holes to be big enough for your baby to put their fingers in and potentially climb. If there is a hole in your mesh gate, make sure to return it whenever possible.