When it comes to buying a baby gate, it’s easier to find the ones parents have sworn off for good than get actual recommendations (“By the time my kid outgrew it, I wanted to take a baseball bat to it, Office Space–style.”). All of the options seem so similar—an eyesore reminiscent of jail cell bars designed to keep your child from whatever danger lurks on the other side of it—that you’re tempted to settle for whatever seems least frustrating to use. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
We polled moms all over the U.S., then cross-referenced their picks with reviews online, to uncover the best baby gates: ones that won’t take you all afternoon to install; that stay put, even when your toddler thrashes at the gate; that you and anyone over 18 can open easily (but your 2-year-old can’t). Here are the ones that made the cut.
1. Best Doorway-Blocking Baby Gate: Regalo Easy Step
With nearly 14,500 reviews on Amazon—the bulk of which give it five stars—this pressure-mounted gate is known for being easy to install (in roughly ten minutes, one person said). Because this style gate works like a tension rod, you don’t have to put any holes in your walls, and a Dallas mom raved that after two years of daily use, it hasn’t budged an inch.
What’s most impressive to us, though, is its open-and-close latch: There’s no fumbling to open it, yet its two-step process is just complicated enough that toddlers can’t easily master it. Or force it open by sheer willpower.
2. Best Baby Gate for Blocking Off Stairs: KidCo Safeway Gate
Don’t let the fact that this gate needs to be screwed into the walls intimidate you—it’s a necessity for styles that block off stairs to help ensure that kids can’t knock them loose by slamming into them. A paper measuring tape comes with the kit, making it easy to drill holes in exactly the right spots, and the steel frame means it doesn’t warp easily. “That safety doesn’t come at the cost of aesthetics—these white metal gates fit right in with our Scandi-style home vibes,” one New York City mom told us. “The open/close takes a little getting used to, but I appreciate that there is no way in hell that any baby, toddler or child will be able to bust out.”
3. Best Baby Gate You Can Open with One Hand: Summer Deluxe Simple-to-Secure Wood Gate
If metal gates aren’t your thing, try this oak style. It’s got more of a rustic vibe, but what moms really love about it is the comfort-grip handle that allows you to open and close the gate with just one hand (while also passing the toddler-can’t-easily-unlatch-it test). It’s designed for use in doorways and stairways, and it comes with screws so it can be installed on the walls, making it extra secure.
4. Best Baby Gate for Large Walkways: Homesafe by Summer Infant Custom Fit Gate
You loved your open floor plan…until your baby started crawling. Then, suddenly, cordoning off a portion of the room seemed impossible—and so did retaining your sanity, as you chased the baby all over the place. That’s where this extra-wide gate is a lifesaver. “You can position it however you want,” said one Brooklyn-based mom, who linked two together, forming an L-shape gate to partition off her living room. “It’s study, secure and, dare I say, a bit chic?” She loves that it isn’t bulky; her son loves playing peekaboo through the mesh. Win-win.
5. Best All-Around Baby Gate: Summer West End Safety Baby Gate
Summer’s line of baby gates came up several times when we talked to moms, but this one earned a spot on our list because it checked off several boxes at once. It can be drilled in (great for stairways), but there’s also a no-drill installation method for doorways. Extensions allow it to block pathways as wide as 60 inches, and there’s an auto-close feature to gently close the door behind you. Plus, that slate gray and honey oak combo? Ooh, baby.
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