Best Baby Gates for Stairs

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
229 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best baby gates for stairs

Last Updated November 2019

A parent's most important job is to keep their children safe. As soon as your baby starts crawling, it's time to begin worrying about the stairs in your home. You can't have your eyes locked on your little one 24 hours a day, and they move so fast that an accident could happen even under your watchful eye. Baby gates for stairs can help avoid this.

If you’re in the market for a baby gate for your stairs, you’ll need to figure out which product is best. There's plenty to consider, including whether you want a classic swing gate or a retractable gate, what mounting type you'd prefer, and the width of gate you require. Then you have other possible features to consider, such as two-way opening, one-handed safety catches, and automatic closing.

We organized the information you need so you can easily pick the right stair baby gate for you. We also listed our top baby stair gates for your perusal.

Before buying a baby gate, check for any footholds that could help an adventurous toddler climb over.

Key considerations

Mounting type

Baby gates are either wall-mounted or pressure-mounted. Wall-mounted options need to be screwed into the wall using a drill and the supplied hardware. Once properly mounted, it would take an awful lot to wrench a wall-mounted gate from the wall. There's no need for a bottom bar, so you could use a wall-mounted gate at the top or bottom of your stairs.

Pressure-mounted baby gates fit into your space without the need for hardware. They're ideal for use in rental properties where the landlord might not take too kindly to you drilling holes in the walls. The problem is that, to create the pressure needed to keep the gate in place, these gates need a bar at the bottom that runs all the way between the two points of attachment. The bar is a potential trip hazard, and we strongly recommend against using a pressure-fit baby gate at the top of the stairs, where you or your little one could fall all the way down. The bottom bar isn't such an issue at the bottom of the stairs, as you only risk falling down a single step.

Swing vs. retractable

The standard swing baby gate swings open and shut, much like a garden gate. A retractable baby gate can be pulled across the opening when needed and retracted when not in use. The majority of these use a piece of fabric that pulls out from a roll, much like a roller blind. However, there are also concertina wire options available.

Width

It's vital that you choose a baby gate of the correct width to fit the gap between your walls — or the wall and bannister — at the top and/or bottom of your stairs. While the majority of baby gates fit standard staircase widths, it's a good idea to check the dimensions of your stairway before you buy.

Material

Many baby gates are made from powder-coated metal, which is lightweight and easy to keep clean. You can also find wooden baby gates, which may look more at home in a house with traditional decor and plenty of wooden furniture. Retractable baby gates are generally made from durable fabric, such as nylon.

EXPERT TIP

Some pressure-fit baby gates for stairs have a pressure indicator to show when you've fitted them with the correct degree of pressure.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Color and appearance

Baby gates are available in a range of colors, and it probably won’t be difficult to find one that blends in with your décor. You can also find some models with a more interesting aesthetic than your average baby stair gate, such as art deco-inspired options.

Safety catch

A stair gate needs a safety catch difficult enough to open that your little one won't be able to figure it out — but not so hard to open that adults will struggle.

Automatic close

The automatic close function is where the baby gate swings and locks itself shut with no effort from you. This is highly useful on stairs where you might already have your hands full.

Two-way opening

It's safer if a baby gate opens away from the stairs rather than onto the stairs. Two-way opening is usually seen as an attractive baby gate feature. However, if you're using it on the stairs (particularly at the top of the stairs, but also at the bottom), you should be able to adjust it to swing just one way.

EXPERT TIP

There are extra-tall baby stair gates for taller toddlers. This is just what you need if you have a tall toddler who isn't yet stair-safe.


Staff  | BestReviews

Stair baby gate prices

How much should you expect to spend on a baby gate for stairs? This varies depending on a product’s features and overall quality.

Basic pressure-fit baby gates can cost $50 or less. These products aren't of the greatest quality and definitely aren't suited for use at the top of the stairs.

Mid-range baby gates cost from $50 to $100. This price bracket includes higher-quality pressure-fit gates and average wall-mounted options.

High-end stair gates cost between $100 and $200. Baby gates in this price range generally have an attractive design or some kind of unique selling point.

Tips

  • Find out what tools you need to install your chosen baby stair gate. Pressure-fit options don't require tools for installation, but you’d need a drill to install a wall-mounted gate. In some cases, you might need other tools, too.
  • Choose a stair gate designed for babies, not for dogs. Pet gates look extremely similar to baby gates, but on some models, the slats are too far apart to prevent a child from getting through. Therefore, a dog gate on the stairs is unsafe for babies and toddlers.
  • Consider choosing a baby gate that's certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). A JPMA-approved baby gate has gone through rigorous testing to ensure its safety.
  • Check if your chosen baby gate has any width restrictions. Some models can fit openings of 28 to 31 and 35 to 40 inches, for example, but they do not fit openings between 32 and 34 inches due to the way that you adjust the width in increments.
EXPERT TIP

If you choose a pressure-mounted stair gate, the bottom bar should be no more than two inches off the ground to minimize the tripping hazard.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

We came across a range of alternatives during our research that were extremely close to the top spots. Munchkin’s Aluminum Hardware Mount Baby Gate has a trendy aluminum finish with chunky bars. It's wall-mounted, and there's no bottom bar to create a tripping hazard, so it's safe for use at the top or bottom of the stairs. The integrated tuning system gives a great fit even when walls aren't level.

The BABYSEATER Retractable Baby Gate is great for stairs of non-standard widths, as it simply pulls across to fit any space up to 48 inches. It's excellent for spots where you don't need a baby gate 24/7, since it retracts into a discreet box when not in use.

The Evenflo Easy Walk-Thru Top-of-Stairs Gate gives you the option of wall-mounting (for safer use at the top of the stairs) or pressure-mounting at the bottom of the stairs (or elsewhere in the home). The safety latch is designed to baffle little ones but can still be opened one-handed.

You can find baby gates that quickly and easily unmount and remount. This is great if you want to get rid of visible stair gates when you're entertaining.

FAQ

Q. Do I really need a baby gate for my stairs?
A.
The is a judgement call that all parents must make. Some parents like the peace of mind that comes with having their stairs completely cordoned off, but there are potential dangers with baby stair gates. For instance, if your toddler scales a baby gate at the top of the stairs going down, they’re more likely to become injured than if there were no gate at all. The alternative is to use doors or baby gates in doorways to restrict your child's movements when you're not there — and to teach your child how to safely ascend and descend the stairs from an early age.
 

Q. How will my pet get through our new stair gates?
A.
You want to keep your child safe without restricting the movement of your pets, which can be a tricky balance. You can buy baby gates for stairs with pet doors in them, but these generally only work for smaller pets, as a pet door big enough to let a large dog through would also be big enough for a baby or toddler to wriggle through. Retractable baby stair gates are a decent choice for households with large pets, as they're easy to leave open when you're not home.
 

Q. My child and I are visiting a relative, and I’m worried about their lack of baby gates. What should I do?
A.
Consider buying a travel baby gate, which is lightweight and extremely quick and easy to pressure mount. This type of gate does have pressure bars, however, so it’s best for use at the bottom of the stairs. To restrict your child's access to the top of the stairs, it's better to use a travel baby gate in the doorway of the bedroom and avoid allowing them to roam free upstairs.

The team that worked on this review
  • Erica
    Erica
    Writer
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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