We may earn money when you click our links. Learn More. X

Best Baby Gates: Pressure-Mounted, Hardware-Mounted, and Play Yards

If you had asked me, before I had kids, how many baby gates I thought I’d end up using, I definitely would not have guessed that I would end up purchasing three different types of safety gates for our first child alone! Not until I had a mobile baby who was curious and wanted to get into everything did I truly appreciate the value a stable, secure gate added to our home.

Finding the right baby gate for your space is just one part of baby-proofing your house, but it’s certainly an important one, especially if you have a multi-level home. There isn’t one gate that’s right for every spot in your house, so I’ve got the rundown on the different types of gates and top recommendations for each category to get you started.

If you already know what type of gate you are looking for, you can jump ahead to see my recommendations for each type.

Best Baby Gates: Pressure-mounted

Pressure-mounted baby gates are the most common kind and they work exactly as they sound—by extending pressure against the walls or sides of a doorframe to hold the gate in place. For our first child, we purchased two simple pressure-mounted gates to block off the doorways to the bedrooms, and we moved them easily on a daily basis as needed.

Pros

  • Easy to set up and take down
  • Less expensive than other types of gates

Cons

  • No installation hardware
  • More likely to fall over if installed incorrectly
  • Not appropriate for areas with a height difference, such as the top of the stairs
Our Ranking#1. Regalo Easy Step #2. Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco #3. Dreambaby Chelsea Auto Close
List Price$32$59.99$49.99
Height31 in.36 in.29.5 in.
Opening Width29 to 39 in.28 to 48 in.28 to 32 in.
Additional ExtensionsYesNoYes
Multidirectional OpeningYesYesYes
Release MechanismOne-touch releaseDouble-locking releaseOne-hand latch
JMPA CertifiedYesYesYes
View ProductView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon
Our Ranking
List Price
Height
Opening Width
Additional Extensions
Multidirectional Opening
Release Mechanism
JMPA Certified
View Product
#1. Regalo Easy Step #2. Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco #3. Dreambaby Chelsea Auto Close
$32 $59.99 $49.99
31 in. 36 in. 29.5 in.
29 to 39 in. 28 to 48 in. 28 to 32 in.
Yes No Yes
Yes Yes Yes
One-touch release Double-locking release One-hand latch
Yes Yes Yes
View on Amazon View on Amazon View on Amazon

#1 Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Gate

Our top pick from the many pressure-mounted baby gates on the market is the Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Gate. It is a top-rated safety gate, and users particularly praise the ease of setup and sturdiness of the gate and lock materials. In addition to being a reliable and easy-to-use safety gate, it is also the least-expensive option on our list. The gate opens with a simple one-hand release lever so you can move through the gate even if you’re holding your child. The gate comes with four wall cups to add stability to the pressure points on the walls, though we do not recommend using it at the top of a flight of stairs, even with the added stability. Overall, this is an excellent choice for a pressure-mounted baby gate.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • One-hand release lever
  • Up to 60 inches wide with extensions (sold separately)
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Easy to set up
  • JPMA certified

Cons

  • Only 39 inches wide without extensions
  • Not suitable for the top of the stairs

#2 Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco Extra Tall Walk-Thru Gate

While some baby gates are low enough that an adult could probably hop over them (though we don’t recommend doing so while carrying a child), the Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco Extra Tall Walk-Thru Gate is not one of them. The extra-tall gate ensures your little ones won’t attempt to climb over this barrier anytime soon. The gate swings shut and locks automatically, so you don’t have to worry about locking it behind you once you go through it, and the gate locks with a release and lift double-locking feature. As an added bonus, the gate includes hardware to mount it to the wall in case you prefer that option. One drawback is the narrow gate opening and another is the lack of extensions to make the gate fit wider openings. However, it gets extra points from users for the overall stylish design, and both parents and experts highly recommend this gate.

Pros

  • Release and lift double-locking feature
  • Gate automatically swings shut and locks behind you
  • Extra tall at 36 inches high
  • Extends up to 48 inches wide
  • Installation hardware included
  • JPMA certified

Cons

  • No extensions available
  • Narrow gate opening
  • Bottom threshold makes it unsafe for the top of the stairs

#3 Dreambaby Chelsea Auto Close Security Gate

Although the Dreambaby Chelsea Auto Close Security Gate is only 32 inches wide (the narrowest among our picks), it has some pretty incredible extension options. Enough, in fact, to make it almost the length of a play yard at 111 inches wide. The gate has a latch that you can release with only one hand, and like our previous pick, the gate automatically locks when it swings closed. The extended length makes the Dreambaby Chelsea gate one of the more versatile pressure-mounted safety gates out there, which earned it a mention on our list, but because all of the extensions have to be purchased separately, the basic gate itself came in below our other picks. However, this is still another great option if you are looking for a pressure-mounted gate for a doorway of almost any size.

Pros

  • One-hand latch release
  • Gate automatically swings shut and locks behind you
  • Up to 111 inches wide with extensions (sold separately)
  • Versatile placement options
  • JPMA certified

Cons

  • Very limited range without extensions at only 32 inches wide
  • Not suitable for the top of the stairs

Hardware-mounted baby gates

Hardware-mounted safety gates screw directly into your wall or door frame, so you’ll need to fill the holes left in the walls if the gates are taken down (or if you misalign the sides of the gate—we learned that the hard way). Look for a gate that does not swing open over the stairs.

Pros

  • More secure and more permanent than pressure-mounted gates
  • Can sometimes be installed between angled walls
  • Only type of gate recommended for blocking off the top of the stairs
  • No bottom threshold to potentially trip over

Cons

  • Installation will take more time and attention
  • May require adapter kits to attach the gate to the banister spindles
Our Ranking#1. Cardinal Gates Stairway #2. North States Supergate#3. Evenflo Easy Walk Thru Top of Stairs
List Price$62.80$38.82$59.99
Height29.5 in.29 in.30 in.
Opening Width27 to 42.5 in.28 to 48 in.29 to 42 in.
Additional ExtensionsYesNoYes
Multidirectional OpeningYesNoYes
Release MechanismOne-hand latchOne-hand latchOne-hand latch
JMPA CertifiedYesYesYes
View ProductView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon
Our Ranking
List Price
Height
Opening Width
Additional Extensions
Multidirectional Opening
Release Mechanism
JMPA Certified
View Product
#1. Cardinal Gates Stairway #2. North States Supergate #3. Evenflo Easy Walk Thru Top of Stairs
$62.80 $38.82 $59.99
29.5 in. 29 in. 30 in.
27 to 42.5 in. 28 to 48 in. 29 to 42 in.
Yes No Yes
Yes No Yes
One-hand latch One-hand latch One-hand latch
Yes Yes Yes
View on Amazon View on Amazon View on Amazon

#1 Cardinal Gates Stairway Special Gate

The Cardinal Gates Stairway Special Gate is both an excellent top-of-the-stairs gate and an anywhere-you-need-it hardware-mounted gate. The gate opening swings open in both directions, but you can use a built-in stop bracket to prevent it from opening over the stairs, and the latch opens easily with one hand. The greatest feature of the Stairway Special Gate, however, is that it can be installed at up to a 30-degree angle between two walls instead of straight across them. This is especially attractive at the top of a flight of stairs where one wall or flat surface may end before the wall on the other side. It is one of the more expensive safety gates on our list, but the added security and stability of this gate make it worth the higher cost.

Pros

  • Can be mounted at up to a 30-degree angle
  • Designed for the top of the stairs
  • Up to 53 inches wide with extensions (sold separately)
  • Stop bracket can prevent gate from opening over the stairs
  • One-hand latch release
  • JPMA certified

Cons

  • High cost

#2 North States Supergate Easy Swing and Lock Metal Gate

The North States Supergate Easy Swing and Lock Metal Gate is another highly recommended and positively reviewed gate. Specifically designed for installation at the top of a flight of stairs, it has a gate that only swings open in one direction. When you swing it shut, it locks itself, and the latch release on the gate only needs one hand. This safety gate doesn’t have any available extensions, but with a width of up to 48 inches, you may not even notice. To top it off, this is the second-least-expensive gate option on our list, which very nearly made its our top pick for hardware-mounted baby gates.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • One-hand latch release
  • Gate locks itself when it swings shut
  • Up to 48 inches wide
  • Gate will not swing open over the stairs
  • JPMA certified

Cons

  • No extensions available

#3 Evenflo Easy Walk Thru Top of Stairs Gate

Like several of our other picks, the Evenflo Easy Walk Thru Top of Stairs Gate automatically locks when you swing it shut. Unlike any of our other picks, though, this safety gate has a red/green light lock indicator that lets you know if the lock has been properly engaged. Being able to see at a glance that the gate is closed securely makes this gate an extra-secure barrier for the top of the stairs. You can activate the built-in stop to keep the gate from opening over the stairs, or you can install it in another location in your home and let the gate swing open both ways. The handle for the gate slides and lifts open. You can operate it one-handed, though the number one complaint we found is that it’s difficult to do, which gave it a lower ranking in our list. Overall, this gate is another long-lasting, secure hardware-mounted option, especially with that lock indicator feature.

Pros

  • Red/green light indicator lets you know if the gate is locked correctly
  • Gate locks itself when it swings shut
  • Up to 52.5 inches wide with extension (sold separately)
  • Gate opens in either just one direction or in both directions
  • Designed for the top of the stairs
  • JPMA certified

Cons

  • Opening with one hand can be difficult

Best Baby Gates: Play yards

Play yards are essentially extra-wide safety gates. When my husband insisted we needed a play yard, I initially resisted because of the price, but now I never hesitate to recommend them to other parents. It was incredibly convenient to have a good-sized playpen that we could move around, take down, or reconfigure easily, and when we moved to a new apartment with an open floor plan, the gates perfectly blocked off the opening to the kitchen.

Pros

  • Versatile placement and usage
  • Stretch across a wide opening
  • Can block off a specific area (such as the bottom of a staircase or around a fireplace)
  • Connect at the ends to form an enclosed area
  • Include multiple panels and a gate that opens

Cons

  • Prices run higher than other types of gates
Our Ranking#1. Regalo Super Wide#2. North States Superyard
List Price$119$114.90
Height28 in.30 in.
Opening Width192 in. long/19 sq. ft. enclosed151 in. long; 10 sq. ft. enclosed
Additional ExtensionsCan connect multiple setsCan connect multiple sets
Multidirectional OpeningYesYes
Release MechanismOne-touch release leverButton release and lift
JMPA CertifiedYesYes
View ProductView on AmazonView on Amazon
Our Ranking
List Price
Height
Opening Width
Additional Extensions
Multidirectional Opening
Release Mechanism
JMPA Certified
View Product
#1. Regalo Super Wide #2. North States Superyard
$119 $114.90
28 in. 30 in.
192 in. long/19 sq. ft. enclosed 151 in. long; 10 sq. ft. enclosed
Can connect multiple sets Can connect multiple sets
Yes Yes
One-touch release lever Button release and lift
Yes Yes
View on Amazon View on Amazon

#1 Regalo Super Wide Gate and Play Yard

If you have a large, open living space without a lot of doorways or halls, the Regalo Super Wide Gate and Play Yard may be the perfect solution for your space. You can stretch it across an extra-wide opening (up to 192 inches wide), configure it to protect just one smaller area (such as a fireplace or the bottom of the stairs), or connect it to create an enclosed play pen of 19 square feet. It even includes the mounting hardware if you want to create a long-term barrier around part of your home.

Please note that the panels are meant to be set up at angles from each other for stability—a straight line of panels will wobble significantly. The Regalo play yard includes eight panels, including one gate, that fold up easily for storage, though you can purchase and attach multiple sets together to create an even larger play yard. Its versatility and stability earned it our top spot for play yards.

Pros

  • Up to 192 inches wide or 19 enclosed square feet
  • Comes with eight panels, including one locking gate
  • One-touch release lever
  • Can be set up in a variety of configurations
  • Mounting hardware included
  • JPMA certified

Cons

  • Not stable unless the panels are angled or mounted to the walls

#2 North States 3-in-1 Metal Superyard

The North States Superyard 3-in-1 Metal Gate is very nearly equal to our top pick for play yards, but it only includes six panels (including one gate) for nearly the same price. As such, it is slightly smaller at 151 inches wide or 10 square feet enclosed. However, like the Regalo play yard above, you can connect multiple sets to create larger barriers, but you have to pay for an entire set as there aren’t individual extension pieces. The gate panel can be held open if you need to go through it several times, and the gate has a double-locking feature for extra security (you have to push the release button and lift the gate up). This play yard has the same stability and versatility as our top pick.

Pros

  • 151 inches wide and 10 square feet enclosed
  • Release and lift double-locking gate
  • Hold-open feature
  • Mounting hardware included
  • Can be set up in a variety of ways
  • JPMA certified

Cons

  • Includes fewer panels (six) than similar products
  • Not stable unless the panels are angled or mounted to the walls

Before you buy

best baby gatesOnce you’ve decided what kind of gate (or gates) would be most appropriate for your home, be sure to measure the width of the opening(s) you need to block and take into consideration how tall your baby is. Generally, a safety gate is no longer a reliable way of restraining children once they are about two years (24 months) old.

You can find the right fit

No matter what kind of home you have or how you set up your space, there is a baby gate out there that will work for you and your family. Even though I never would have thought we’d end up with so many different gates, let alone so many different types of gates, I’ve always been grateful for the freedom they gave me to worry less about where my baby is and just enjoy being with her more.

Was this article helpful?

Thank you for your feedback!

Tell us how we can make your experience better next time.

Back to Top

We use cookies to enhance your website experience. By continuing to use our site you agree to the use of cookies in accordance with our policy. Click for more information to find out what cookies we use, what they do and how you can disable them.