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Like all baby things, choosing a baby gate for your home’s stairs may sound cute and exciting. But when you become a parent, it can be a headache to select the perfect gate for your home and kids. With so many baby gates for stairs, how can you pick the right one? This in-depth guide will help new parents save time and anxiety when choosing the baby gate to keep their little ones safe.
When Is the Recommended Time to Buy a Baby Gate for Stairs?
When your boy (girl) starts to crawl around and starts “exploring” the environment, it is time to buy a baby gate. This is usually when your baby is between 7 and 8 months old. Carpeted stairs are less risky than wooden and concrete stairs which can be really dangerous.
A fall from these kinds of stairs can cause serious injuries and trauma to your baby. When your little “explorer” learns how to open a gate or climb over it, that will be the sign that you can no longer count on baby gates to protect your child. At that point, a baby gate can even become a potential danger.
What Should You Know before Buying a Baby Gate for Stairs?
There are two main things you will need to know before buying a baby gate:
1.Distance to be covered by the baby gate
The first thing you will need to do before buying a baby gate is measure the area where the baby gate will be put. Pay careful attention when measuring, and even measure twice, because it’s very annoying to buy an exciting new gate only to come home and find out it is too short to fit.
2.Height of your baby
After measuring your home, take time to measure your baby as well. Why does this matter when buying a baby gate? Well, the baby gate must be at least three quarters as tall as your baby. The gate’s height will prevent event the biggest little troublemakers from pulling themselves over the baby gate. It’s important to remember that you cannot rely on the baby gate to stop your kid as soon as he or she becomes taller than 36 inches or heavier than 30 pounds (usually around two years old). Don’t worry if your baby is taller than average for its age; there are extra tall baby gates that can ensure your child’s safety.
After you know these basic things, you can consider different types and features of baby gates. We have listed many options and their relatives merits below. We also tested various designs to make your lives easier; you can find a list of the best brands below, including detailed descriptions as well as advantages and disadvantages.
Here are the most important features you should consider when comparing different types gates for boys and girls.
The baby gate should be high at least three-quarters of your baby’s height (about 22 inches).
2. Strong Construction
For the safest option, make sure your gate is strong and baby-proof! If you choose wooden baby gates, they should be smooth, splinter-free, and with rounded rather than squared edges. Compared to wooden baby gates, metal ones are more durable and stronger.
3. Space Between Slats
The distance between the vertical slats should be less than 3 inches to avoid your child’s head getting stuck and injured.
4. Latches and Hardware
Many baby gates include a dual action latch. This type of latch enables you to push on it with only one hand without worrying if it’s completely in place or if your baby is safe.
5. Latch Indicators
There are several different types of latch indicators: “click” indicators, color indicators, and alarm indicators. An indicator is very useful when you’re in a hurry, but it is always good to double check if the gate is properly closed. No alarm can replace your hands and eyes!
Types of Baby Gates for Stairs (Reviews)
There are two basic types of baby gates for stairs: hardware-mounted gates and pressure-mounted gates.
Hardware-mounted Baby Gates
Hardware-mounted baby gates, as the name suggests, are attached directly to the wall. Yes, you will have to drill holes in your walls and they will stay after you remove the baby gate, but these are negligible irritations when considering your baby’s safety.
This type of baby gate is the most secure because it is supported by your home’s walls. It will be almost impossible to knock down the hardware-mounted baby gate, even if you have the most stubborn and persistent little rascal. We do recommend that you make sure to carefully read and understand the instructions that come with this type of product before installing it. If you don’t do this and don’t have experience in this type of work, you risk damaging the walls.
Advantages of hardware mounted baby gates:
- They provide the highest level of protection, preventing your child from reaching the stairs.
- It is the safest solution for the top of the stairs.
- It can be installed between angled walls and above the trim molding or baseboard as well.
- It can support the baby’s weight without falling.
- There is no risk of tripping over a threshold because (unlike pressure-mounted baby gates, the second type) they do not have a threshold.
- Larger dogs won’t be able to break it.
Disadvantages of hardware mounted baby gates:
- Setting this gate up is much more complicated in comparison to pressure-mounted baby gates.
- It takes lot of time to remove the gate when you don’t need it any more.
- The unwanted holes stay in walls after removing the gate. The problem is bigger if you are renting the home and need to pay attention to aesthetics, but these can always be patched with some spackle and spare paint.
Best hardware-mounted baby gate brands
When choosing between different hardware-mounted baby gate brands, you will need to note the difference between gates intended for the bottom of the stairs and for the top of the stairs.
Fits: 26.5” (extension pieces included)
This is the best solution if you need a really strong baby gate that can resist all attacks from your little superhero without budging. Why is it one of the favorite choices of parents? The Cardinal Gates “Auto-Lock” Baby Gate is very easy to install, despite being a hardware-mounted baby gate.
It makes the adults’ lives easier; the same can’t be said for the restless little explorers. It will definitely make all your wishes come true. The door can swing both directions. It also gives you “click” sign indicating that the gate is locked, so it will spare you the extra effort of turning around and checking it “just in case.” It is a jackpot for those parents with extremely energetic babies who will try to overcome any obstacle at full tilt. No matter how strong and athletic your child is, it won’t defeat this baby gate.
2.Best baby gate for uneven walls
Fits: 28”-48” (extension pieces included)
North States Supergate is a simple-looking but solid baby gate that won’t detract from the aesthetics of your home decoration. It has no metal threshold that you could trip over. We just have to warn you to prevent your baby from “riding” the gate while the door is open, because the gate is pretty shaky.
It is easy to open, even when your second hand is occupied with your child, the laundry, or any of the other tasks that keep new parents busy. Its main negative is that it isn’t the easiest to install. We really needed a chunk of time to figure out how to set it up, even with pretty detailed instructions. Nevertheless, if you don’t have a deep wallet but still want good quality, this will be the best choice.
Hardware-mounted baby gates for the top of the stairs
The top of the stairs is probably the most dangerous part of a home when it comes to baby safety. That’s why the hardware-mounted baby gate for the top of the stairs is a must! Let’s see the best ones for this purpose.
1. Height: 31”
Fits: 27”-42.5” (Up to 64” with extension pieces)
Cardinal Gates Stairway Special Gate is applicable whether both sides of staircase are flat or not. We were amazed by the most impressive feature of this product: it can be set up at angles up to 30 degrees! It also has an integrated Auto-Lock mechanism.
Another more significant feature of this baby gate is that it can be extended up to 64” thanks to extension pieces that are sold separately:
- 10 ½” extension– Extends 42 ¼” to 53”
- 21 ¾ ” extension– Extends 48 ¾” to 64”
2.Best baby gate for uneven walls
Fits: up to 192”
The Regalo 192 Inch Play Yard is great if your staircases are too tricky even for professionals to set up a typical baby gate. If you have rail-less staircases, spiral staircases, staircases with low rails, staircases with glass rails, multi-story stairs with landings, stairs that curve, etc. then you should definitely choose this product. With the Regalo 192, you will not need anyone’s help for installation.
All you will need is two walls at the top of the stairs. The gate could be also bent in an L-shape or a U-shape. Isn’t that great? The bad thing about this baby gate product is that you will lose a bigger space in your home, but that is unimportant compared to the safety of your little one. A very important thing to know about this product is that it is Juvenile Product Association Certified.
Pressure-mounted Baby Gates for Stairs
Most baby gates on the market are pressure-mounted, maybe because they are so easy to install. This type of baby gate simply pushes on opposing walls to create support, so they are not the best solution where there is even a small risk of injuries.
Pressure-mounted baby gates are not recommended for use at the top of stairs, even to avoid paying the extra price of holes in your walls. You also should avoid choosing accordion-style gates that have no top filler bar and gates with horizontal slats or other tempting footholds.
Advantages of pressure-mounted baby gates for stairs:
- Pressure-mounted baby gates are very easy to install and you won’t have to make holes in your walls.
- They are cheaper than hardware-mounted baby gates.
- You have a wide selection of different brands to choose from.
- This baby gate isn’t as stable, so there is always the danger that the gate will slip and fall when your baby tries to reach the stairs.
- A medium-sized dog can easily knock it down.
- A pressure-mounted baby gate shouldn’t be used at the top of the stairs because of its instability.
1. Height: 29”
Fits: 28”-31.5” (up to 38.5” with included extension pieces)
North States Supergate “Easy Close” Metal Gate is the top pressure-mounted baby gate for many reasons. Installation of this baby gate requires no mounting. It makes your life easier at the beginning, right? All you need to do is to open the box and put it where you want. With this product you also get two extension pieces. Thanks to this, you can expand the width of the baby gate up to 38.5”.
In comparison to other baby gate products where you must buy additional extensions, these are included with the gate. The other great thing about this gate is that the door is simple to open (even with one hand!) and moves both ways. That makes gate-opening easier regardless of which side you are on. And that’s not all! The door could be opened an incredible 90 degrees. This might not seem so fancy, but anything that makes life easier for the average parent is excellent in our eyes.
Fits: 36”-60” (extension pieces included)
Only two things make the Summer Infant Deco Baby Gate different from the North States gate. Unfortunately, these differences are not in favor of the Summer Infant baby gate. Unlike the North States gate, it has the option of hardware mounting; but if you are going to make the effort to install this thing, why wouldn’t you buy a hardware-mounted baby gate instead? If you are putting in the extra time and effort of setting it up, you will at least have the peace of mind to know you provided the best safety for your kid.
The second difference is a very narrow door. It can be pretty annoying to walk through this baby gate carrying something clunky in your hands. This is not a recommended solution for the top of the stairs, even if it can be hardware-mounted, because it is too narrow and may be knocked down. These two disadvantages are almost negligible, keeping in mind that the rest features are the same as the North States gate. With the exception of the previous model, this baby gate is better than all the other pressure-mounted baby gates offered on the market.
1. Why Do We Need a Baby Gate for the Stairs and What Kind of Gate Is Ideal for This?
No matter where you live, the first thing you need to do is ensure your child’s safety. If you live in multi-story residence, you absolutely need to protect your child from falling down the stairs. The top of the stairs is the most critical point, so you should start by putting a baby gate there.
We also recommend putting a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs so your little one can’t climb the stairs only to get stuck or fall back down. If you want to provide the best safety solution, then hardware-mounted metal gates are the best choice. They offer the most safety because they are screwed to the walls, unlike pressure-mounted baby gates.
2. My Baby is a Super Climber, What Should I Do?
If your baby is a great climber, you might think that baby gates for stairs won’t stop your child. But there is a solution for you! There are extra tall baby gates on the market, approximately 5 inches taller than regular baby gates. Those additional inches should stop your baby from scrambling over.
3. I Want an Attractive Wooden Gate That Matches My Furniture, but I Still Want it to Be Safe. Is There a Good Option for Me?
Most people prefer wooden baby gates over metal baby gates as they can match them with furniture and create a warmer atmosphere in their homes. Because of this, you might prefer a wooden gate, and these can be safe. But if you have a dog or other pet who likes to scratch and chew, the gate may quickly go from attractive to destroyed.
4. Are Metal Gates Safe for My Baby and Are They PVC Free?
The most common material for baby gates on the market is metal. These gates are mostly available in the color white. Steel construction offers a strong, scratch-resistant baby gate that makes these products safe. Yes, most of these products are PVC-free and certified by the JPMA and according to ASTM safety standards.
5. What Should I Consider in Terms of Fit?
Even if the most baby gates on the market fit the average doorway, it is always good to carefully measure the space where you intend to put the baby gate. Expandable baby gates are also very practical and can help you find a baby gate that fits a wide range of different home spaces.
6. What Should I Consider in Terms of Safety Standards?
Safety standards are very important when choosing the baby gate. Features like auto-lock or gravity-fed hinges will give you safety and ease-of-use at the same time. JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) certification is the standard indicator assuring that a baby gate meets all the applicable safety laws and standards.
What to Look for When Buying?
1. The baby gate should be easy to open. Most hardware-mounted gates on the market are easy to open, but there are some pressure-mounted gates that are more complicated (usually the basic models). It may sound unimportant when you’re in the store, but when you’re at home, in a hurry and with full hands, you will appreciate an easy-open gate.
2. The slats shouldn’t be more than 2 3/8 inches apart. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) recommends that the vertical slates be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. That is because of the risk that a child’s head can be trapped in a larger gap, even potentially causing strangulation.
3. Safety standards are very important. If you can’t find JPMA certification on the packaging of a baby gate you’re interested in, avoid that product. Only products with this certificate can guarantee that voluntary safety standards are met. If the baby gate you’re considering doesn’t have an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and/or JPMA certification on the packaging, keep shopping. Whether you choose hardware- or pressure-mounted baby gates, pay attention to this because only models with this seal are guaranteed to meet voluntary safety standards. The standards include various safety and performance issues like the strength of components, the size of the openings (to prevent stuck fingers or heads), and the integrity of latch. It also specifies that the gate can’t be less than 22 inches tall and the distance between the gate bottom and the floor can’t be less than 3 inches. That will prevent your baby’s small torso or head getting stuck in the gate. These are brands of baby gates that have the JPMA certificate: Cardinal Gates, Dorel Juvenile Group (Safety 1st), Evenflo, GMI, KidCo, Lascal/Regal Lager, Munchkin, Inc., North States Industries, Regalo International, Retract-A-Gate/Creative Frontier, Summer Infant Products, Tee-Zed Products and TOMY International (formerly RC2/Learning Curve).
4. Don’t forget the baby gate fit. Most baby gates on the market have dimensions that fit an average doorway. But what if you have a larger area to protect? In that case, make sure you buy the baby gate that stretches farther or has interlocking sections to block off a bigger hazard.
Important Safety Notes
We recommend you avoid older, accordion-style gates that open to form large diamond-shaped gaps. These are dangerous because the head of your baby can get stuck in these spaces and make a potentially deadly situation. The earlier designs were removed from the market in 1985, but they can be still found in secondhand stores and garage sales. The new models have smaller gaps that meet current safety standards.
How Much Will Baby Gate Cost You?
The price of baby gate varies widely depending on quality and size. It ranges from about $50 to several hundred dollars.