I have not one, but two, retractable baby gates. “Why?” you ask. Because I have a five-year-old (for a few more weeks) and three grandbabies – all of whom insist on being underneath my feet the entire time I’m in the kitchen.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind them helping to prepare meals or load the dishwasher, but there are certain times when the kitchen is off limits. Like, for example, when I’m pulling an extremely heavy turkey out of the oven or when I’m frying up some chicken on the stove. My retractable gates not only give me peace of mind while I’m cooking, but they also keep the little ones safe at the same time.
So, basically what I’m saying is this: Baby gates are the best thing since sliced bread. That may sound silly and corny to say, but if you’re having a baby or are a new parent, a baby gate should be on your gift-buying registry.
My favorite gate is the hard-mounted, retractable Retract-A-Gate Safety Gate. I love it because it’s so very easy to use and has stood the test of time over the past years.
Mostly we use it at the top of the stairs. My youngest is now 6 years old, and even though she is old enough to be able to open the gate herself, she knows she isn’t allowed to without permission from an adult. Then, when the grandbabies come over, I move it downstairs to block off the bottom of the stairs for added security.
If you need a wider gate, the Retract-A-Gate also comes in a 72″ version:
I added this gate to both my daughter and daughter-in-law’s registries when they were expecting.
Continue reading to find out more about this gate, and to see my other choices for the top retractable baby gate of 2021.
Table of Contents
- What Should You Look For in a Retractable Baby Gate?
- Here’s How I’ve Determined the Best Retractable Baby Gate
- My Top Picks for the Best Retractable Baby Gates of 2021
- #1. Retract-A-Gate Safety Gate 52" (Best Overall)
- #2: Retract-A-Gate Safety gate 72" (Best for It’s Width)
- #3: Summer Retractable Baby Gate (Best Value)
- #4: Gaterol Active Lite (Best for Toddlers)
- #5: Evenflo Expansion Walk Thru Room Divider Gate (Best Under $50)
- #6: The Stair Barrier Baby and Pet Gate (Best for Stairs with Banisters)
- #7: BabyDan® Guard Me™ Auto-Retractable Safety Gate (Best for Auto-Retract Capabilities)
- #8: Babepai Retractable Baby Gate Door (Best for 360-Degree Coverage)
- What Is the Longest Retractable Baby Gate?
- Are Retractable Baby Gates Safe?
- At What Age Do You Stop Using Baby Gates?
- Verdict: Your Best Retractable Baby Gate
I do love the topic of baby gates. These things are a life-changer once your little bundle of joy starts crawling all over the place or begins their little walking journey. While the recommended age for most baby gates is six to 24 months old, they can also be quite useful as they get older…if you have the right gate. Another good thing about these retractable gates is that when you’re not using them, they sort of disappear. You can find a product that’ll match your home decor, so they’re virtually unnoticeable when not in use.
What Should You Look For in a Retractable Baby Gate?
This is a great question and, quite honestly, shouldn’t be taken lightly when it comes to child safety. To decide what type of retractable gate you will need, will depend on several factors. I’ve taken the time to list some of the most important criteria I factored in, not only while writing this article but also when making my own baby gate purchases. When choosing the best retractable baby gate for your family, consider the following criteria below. This will help you determine what your needs are and what type of product will best fit your family’s needs.
Criteria #1: How wide is the area where you’ll be using the baby gate?
This is where you come in. You’ll need to accurately measure the area where you’re planning on installing your retractable gate. Once you measure the area, measure again. And then have someone else measure. This is particularly important if you’re ordering your gate from an online store like Amazon or eBay. That’s because sometimes it can be a pain to return or exchange products when you buy it off the good ol’ Internet. If you do have a problem with your gate or it comes to you defective, be sure to contact the store’s customer service department right away.
Criteria #2: What types of materials is it made of?
While most retractable baby gates are made with mesh or cloth, you can also choose from plastic, wood, or metal gate options. It’ll depend on what your family’s needs are and the look you’re going for. Baby gates don’t have to be an ugly eyesore in your home. Find a gate that fits your home decor.
Criteria #3: Does it meet safety standards?
Check with the manufacturer, but almost all of these gates are Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certified, so they’ve been tested and came out on the other end alive and well. If you’re unsure about the safety of some of the retractable baby gates, read the reviews. There’s no one more honest than a parent who’s bought a certain product for their little one only for it to fail in some way.
Criteria #4: What type of locking mechanism is on the gate?
The answer to this question will solely depend on the type of retractable gate you purchase. While most have a pretty good locking mechanism on them that can easily be opened and closed with one hand, you may want to consider looking for a double latch system for added security. There are even some that have an optional third lock, which you should consider if your kid figures out locks and escapes easily.
Here’s How I’ve Determined the Best Retractable Baby Gate
I am actually in the market to buy two more so the grandbabies can have baby gates at their homes and so my daughter and son can keep their sanity while their babies play in peace, so I thought I’d share my favorite ones with you.
I’ve considered several factors when choosing the baby gates for this list. First of all, the best retractable baby gate should be focused on safety. Baby safety is without a doubt, a top priority. The gates on this list are all hardware mounted. Durability and long-lasting materials are also important. You’ll find these are made of a variety of materials, including mesh, cloth, and wood. I’ve also considered the reviews – what better way to determine the best product than to read the experiences of other parents?
My Top Picks for the Best Retractable Baby Gates of 2021
#1. Retract-A-Gate Safety Gate 52" (Best Overall)
I also own this retractable baby gate, and let me just say this: It’s amazing! Even though my youngest is about to turn six years old in a few weeks, I still use this retractable gate at the top of our stairs. She’s long since figured out how to open the gate, she just knows that she isn’t allowed to without permission from an adult. Plus, to my surprise, the mesh fabric has stood up.
If money’s no object and you’re wanting to buy the best of the best of baby gates for your little one, this one is it. This hardware-mounted, retractable baby gate is 34 inches high and fits openings up to 52 inches wide. It comes with virtually everything you need to install the gate, minus the tools. There’s even an additional wall bracket kit so you can quickly and easily relocate the gate if needed. This is a bonus feature for me. I like being able to move it downstairs to keep the grandbabies off of the staircase when they’re over for a visit.
It’s Safe for the Bottom and Top of the Stairs
The Retract-A-Gate Safety Gate has been certified by the JPMA for use at the bottom and top of the stairs. You can feel confident that your baby or toddler will be safe around the staircase with this one.
The Childproof Lock Prevents It from Opening
This product has a childproof lock that prevents it from being opened by little hands. It’s also easily opened and closed with one hand, which is great if you’re trying to do laundry or pick up a bunch of toys.
It’s Made with See-Through Fabric
As one of the best retractable safety baby gates on the market, this baby gate is made with see-through, mesh fabric that retracts automatically. Don’t worry – the mesh is scratch-resistant, so your baby won’t be able to tear a hole in it three days after you put it up.
One parent said they like this gate because of the one-handed opening and closing feature. It makes it convenient when you’re holding a baby. Another parent said these gates are durable and sturdy enough for their twins to hang and climb on without fear of them being injured. Though I will say this, I don’t recommend letting your baby hang on a baby gate. It’s quite dangerous. Just saying.
#2: Retract-A-Gate Safety gate 72" (Best for It’s Width)
The Retract-A-Gate Safety Gate has made our list again. This time for its width capabilities. If you have extra-large openings, this is the gate you need. It’ll stretch a whopping 72 inches wide. This product is perfect for the open-concept room or unusually large entryways or doorways and can even be used at angles. It’s also JPMA certified for use at the top or the bottom of the stairs.
Uses Mesh Materials
This product is made with scratch-resistant mesh materials. So not only will your baby not destroy it, but your furry friends won’t be able to either.
The Retract-A-Gate Safety Gate auto-retracts with a simple, one-handed operation. The childproof lock on top will prevent little fingers from being able to open it. Another great thing about this feature is that you can walk through it without completely opening it first.
Consumers like that this will stretch up to 72 inches and will stay durable and sturdy. Not having to pull it out all the way to open and close it is also a bonus.
#3: Summer Retractable Baby Gate (Best Value)
I have this retracting gate to separate the family room from the dining room. I love my child, and I love my grandbabies. I just don’t love trying to cook with them all at my feet begging for more chocolate milk or just one more cookie. This baby gate helps me keep my sanity when making dinner.
The Summer Retractable Baby Gate is a hardware-mounted, high-quality baby gate. It stands 30 inches tall and will fit openings up to 50 inches wide. This is one of the best retractable baby gates for everyday use. It’s simple to install and comes with all of the mounting hardware. You just need to provide the tools. Also, there’s no need to worry if you have baseboards because this retractable baby gate comes with a baseboard kit.
Its retractable feature will give you full walk-thru space when you need it, while providing security for your baby when it’s fully extended. Simply push down to lock the lever and pull up to unlock.
Like the Retract-A-Gate Safety Gate, the Summer Retractable Baby Gate is made with a durable mesh fabric. The silver satin finish and charcoal accents will complete any modern look.
Consumers like that this is easy to install and that it comes with the baseboard kit. They also claim the quality is good and durable.
#4: Gaterol Active Lite (Best for Toddlers)
This is the gate you should get if you are using your gate for taller babies or older toddlers. It’s taller than the other retractable gates on this list, and, to be honest, probably my next purchase. Although the one I have now is great, my two-year-old grandson is getting taller and is quite rambunctious. I need a gate that’ll slow him down when he’s visiting, and I think this might just be it. And, since this gate can be operated with only one hand, it makes it great when my hands are full of crying toddlers or I’m dealing with a kindergartner refusing to share her toys.
Designed for Narrow Spaces
This baby gate is specifically designed for narrow spaces from 18 inches to the standard 55 inches. It’ll fit perfectly in bathroom doorways or hallways. Use it at the top of a banister or the bottom of the stairs. This gate can also be used outdoors, including on the patio.
Extra Tall Baby Gate
Not only is the Gaterol Active Lite one of the best for narrow spaces, but it’s also one of the tallest. Coming in at 36.6 inches, the height of this gate makes it virtually impossible for your baby or young child to climb over. There’s also no threshold, so there’s no worry about tripping.
Customers state this is a great retractable gate for the price. It has helped one family keep their baby from climbing up the stairs. Another family used this both at the top and the bottom of their stairs to keep their baby safe. Others like it for the ease of removing the gate when it’s not needed.
#5: Evenflo Expansion Walk Thru Room Divider Gate (Best Under $50)
For under $50, the Evenflo Expansion Walk Thru Room Divider Gate is a great low-cost option for a retractable baby gate. The hardware attachment can be installed in just minutes, and its latch is easy to maneuver with just one hand.
Made of Wood
Unlike the other the retractable gates featured on this list, this baby gate is made of wood and plastic, while the others are mostly made of steel or metal and mesh.
Ideal for Extra-Wide Openings
These gates are perfect for great rooms or rooms with open floor plans. It’ll fit openings of 24 inches up to 60 inches, so it covers more area than the Gaterol Active Lite or the Retract-A-Gate Safety Gate.
Ideal for High-Traffic Areas
Like the other gates on this list, the Evenflo Expansion Walk-Thru Room Divider Baby Gate retracts. But this one has a special baby safety feature. It has a telescoping safety rail so your (or your child’s) fingers won’t get pinched when you expand or contract the gate.
Customers say this is a retractable baby gate that is light and so easy to install. It’s an excellent value for the money. Also, it’s durable and strong, so babies and small children can’t easily destroy it.
#6: The Stair Barrier Baby and Pet Gate (Best for Stairs with Banisters)
This retractable baby gate is ideal for the top of the stairs and/or the bottom of the stairs. Since this product was designed for different banisters in mind, you can use them on round or square banisters, and you even can mount these at an angle if the need arises. These gates come in various sizes ranging from 36 inches to 52 inches wide to match just about any banister combination.
Banister to Banister
This retractable baby gate will get you the perfect fit whenever you use it with your banister at either the top or the bottom of your stairs. All you need to do is measure from the innermost edge of both banisters to find the right size. Custom and banister-to-wall gates are also available. These baby gates have been tested to meet all US standards for stair gates and enclosures.
The Stair Barrier Baby and Pet Gate isn’t only great for stairs, it’s just as good for traveling. This gate features an easy setup design with no drilling needed, so you can take it with you on those road trips to visit the grandparents.
The fabric gate will discourage your baby or child from attempting to climb on it. It rolls neatly to one side when you don’t need it, and it’s easy to clean.
It doesn’t require two solid spaces, so this is good if you have a banister-type staircase. Reviews say that it installs easily and rolls away when not in use even more easily, making it convenient for the top of stairs.
#7: BabyDan® Guard Me™ Auto-Retractable Safety Gate (Best for Auto-Retract Capabilities)
This retractable gate will keep your baby safe from staircases, wide doors, or you can use it as a room divider. The gate measures 28 inches high with a width adjustment from 21.6 inches to 35 inches and meets all safety standards.
It Features a Folding Design
This metal and wood auto-close, smart-retract gate features a folding design with a triple locking system that can be locked and released with one hand.
The BabyDan Guard Me Auto-Retractable Safety Gate in White is pressure-mounted, so there’s no need to destroy your walls. This makes the gate not only easy for installation but removal as well. It also makes a great portable gate for travel.
Parents highly recommend this product. They love using this gate at the bottom of their stairs because it doesn’t have a threshold bar. They say the folding design makes it easier to put away when it’s not needed, and the pressure mounts don’t leave marks all over the walls.
#8: Babepai Retractable Baby Gate Door (Best for 360-Degree Coverage)
This product is 34 inches tall and fits openings up to 54 inches wide. The diverse ways you can use this mesh gate makes it perfect for using at angles or in unusual directions.
It Can Be Used in Any (360-Degree) Direction
This kit comes with two closing direction parts so you can pull these retractable gates closed in any direction.
It Has a Stay Open/Closed Feature
The childproof double locking mechanism provides the added baby safety you’re looking for when it comes to keeping your baby safe. It can also be locked and unlocked easily with one hand – just press and twist. With this gate, you can choose to keep it closed or lock it open, and the little ones won’t be able to mess with it.
As far as reviews go, there isn’t anything bad about this gate. The installation is simple and easy and the mesh is durable and kid-proof. It’s a great choice for any household.
What Is the Longest Retractable Baby Gate?
The Retract-A-Gate Safety Gate 72″ is the widest in its class, beating out the Evenflo Expansion Walk Thru Room Divider Gate by 12 inches. This six-foot-long product is perfect for extra-wide spaces such as great rooms, large staircases, and unusually large doorways or entryways, or you can use it as a room divider.
Are Retractable Baby Gates Safe?
The simple answer here is yes, a retracting baby gate is safe for your babies and small toddlers. However, to keep your baby safe, measure the area where you want to put the gate. If the gate is too short and doesn’t fit the walls just right, your baby may be able to knock it over. The best thing you can do for your babies or toddlers and their new retractable gate is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. This is vital to prevent injuries.
At What Age Do You Stop Using Baby Gates?
Baby gates are typically recommended for babies between six months and two years of age. This is because, at this age, they are crawling and learning to walk. It also provides extra protection when you’re busy.
Another way to know it might be time to get rid of your baby gate is if your toddler’s chin is at the same level as the top of the gate. These are very vague and general rules because each family situation is going to be unique. Take, for example, my home. My youngest will be six years old in a couple of weeks, but I still use our gates, even though she’s clearly taller than the top of the gate by quite a bit. And, even though she can lock and unlock it now, she knows the gate is there as a boundary to keep her safe from harm.
Verdict: Your Best Retractable Baby Gate
Okay. For those of you who decided to not read the entire article and just wanted to skip to the bottom ( I see you!), here are our top picks for the best retractable baby gates of 2021.
If you want the best value for money, get the Summer Retractable Baby Gate.
If you want the very best option, pick the Retract-A-Gate Safety Gate 52".
If you want the best for toddlers, pick the Gaterol Active Lite.
If you want to keep the cost under $50, pick the Evenflo Expansion Walk Thru Room Divider Gate.
If you want the best for banisters, pick The Stair Barrier Baby and Pet Gate.
If you want a gate that auto-retracts, pick the BabyDan® Guard Me™ Auto-Retractable Safety Gate in White.
If you need 360-degree coverage, pick the Babepai Retractable Baby Gate Door.
Child safety should be your number one priority when deciding on your retractable baby gates purchase. Remember to measure the height of your baby. Gates should be three quarters as tall as your child. Choosing a gate that’s the right height will ensure your baby can’t easily climb over it.